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by Jenni Davidson
19 November 2019
Systemic change needed to tackle disadvantage in STEM learning, Holyrood committee reports

Science - Image credit: Holyrood

Systemic change needed to tackle disadvantage in STEM learning, Holyrood committee reports

Systemic change is needed to address disadvantage in STEM subjects, according to a report from Holyrood’s Education and Skills Committee on the importance of STEM learning in early years.  

Disadvantages including deprivation, gender and rurality need to be dealt with to improve learning experiences in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, the committee said.

While MSPs found there was a range of positive work being done across Scotland, it noted that disadvantages were being compounded for some young people through unconscious bias, lack of resources or living in a rural area.

The committee is calling for measures to be put in place to increase early years teacher confidence across Scotland as well as improve internet connectivity in schools to help support STEM learning experiences.

Among the committee’s recommendations are that teacher confidence is measured separately for science, technology, engineering and mathematics because a single figure for STEM may be masking a lack of confidence in technology and engineering and that there is more of a focus on long-term interventions in school and early learning settings when the Scottish Government is measuring progress towards the aims of its STEM strategy in order to bring about systemic change to tackle gender discrimination and disadvantage.

Committee convener Clare Adamson said: “We heard so much about the innovative and fantastic work being doing by leaders in our schools and communities to grow STEM skills amongst our young people.

“These are skills which will become ever more critical as we enter the fourth industrial revolution which will see massive technological changes affecting changes to work and employment in the future.

“To ensure our young people are equipped with the skills of the future, we want the Scottish Government to do more to measure the effectiveness of the strategies in place such as the STEM strategy.

“But measurements alone are not enough. We need systemic change to address continued disadvantage which exists, as identified in the committee report.

“We need inclusive economic growth; the fourth industrial revolution will provide so many opportunities for our young people and they need the skills to take up these opportunities.”

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