Scottish Government STEM education and training strategy aims to address teacher shortages
The five-year strategy sets out the government’s plans for science, technology, engineering and maths education and training
Science experiment - Image credit: Pixabay
The Scottish Government has published a five-year strategy for increasing Scotland’s interest in science, technology, maths and engineering (STEM).
One key aim set out in the strategy for STEM education and training, which runs from 2017 to 2022, is to increase the number of teachers in STEM subjects.
This is an area that the Scottish Government has been criticised in, after recent high-profile reports of shortages of maths teachers in schools in Edinburgh and Perthshire, and a need for more maths, computing and science teachers nationally.
The Scottish Government says it is addressing this through recruiting from industry and new STEM-focused courses at the universities of Stirling, Glasgow and the West of Scotland.
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As well as a series of actions aimed at increasing interest in STEM, the strategy also lays out measures for addressing gender bias and stereotyping and for ensuring skills meet employer needs.
Among the planned actions are establishing a new network of specialist STEM advisers for schools, prioritising STEM in the expansion of apprenticeships, increasing access to public science events, creating STEM role models, mentors and coaches and delivering up-to-date advice on STEM careers.
An implementation group will be established to oversee the delivery of the strategy and it will publish an annual report on progress.
The Scottish Government’s minister for further education, higher education and science, Shirley-Anne Somerville, said it was “critical” that Scotland achieves its full potential in STEM.
She said: “The sectors which feature in our vision for a high-tech, low-carbon economy have a golden thread – they all require a highly educated and skilled workforce with STEM capabilities in order to develop and grow.
“The future is truly one of opportunity and we must ensure everyone is equipped and supported to make the most of fast-paced technological change around us and the job opportunities this generates, enabling Scotland to become a STEM nation.”
The Chief Scientific Adviser for Scotland, Professor Sheila Rowan, said: “STEM learning opens up so many careers for our young people, but we also need to encourage more people of all ages to engage with and enjoy science as part of our culture and heritage.
“Being more confident with STEM helps us make sense of today’s big issues – from improving our health to tackling climate change.
“This strategy reflects the twin aspects of STEM for skills and STEM for citizenship, supporting our future scientists as well as recognising the broader benefits of making science activities and events more accessible to a wide audience.”
However, Scottish Labour said the strategy does not go far enough in addressing teacher shortages.
Scottish Labour’s education spokesperson, Iain Gray, said: “This strategy falls short of the urgent action needed.
“Scotland has lost more than 800 STEM teachers since the SNP came to power – that’s two a week.
“Pass rates are falling and STEM teacher training places are lying vacant in our universities.
“SNP mismanagement has led to a crisis in one of our most important subject areas and this strategy is simply too little, too late.
“Our teachers are now amongst the lowest paid and most overworked in the world. No wonder science and maths graduates are choosing other careers.
“We need urgent action from the SNP to tackle this crisis. The time for half measures is over.”
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The Scottish Government published its draft STEM education strategy in November and work is now underway on the final version