Publication - Consultation responses

Science, technology, engineering and mathematics: consultation on a strategy for education and training

Published: 21 Mar 2017
Learning Directorate
Part of:

An analysis of responses to the consultation on the draft science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) strategy.

Science, technology, engineering and mathematics: consultation on a strategy for education and training
The STEM Improvement Framework

The STEM Improvement Framework

The draft strategy proposed that a National STEM Improvement Framework is developed to provide early years, schools and clusters with a clear approach to improve STEM learning and teaching. A draft of the Framework is included as part of the consultation document.

Question 15 sought views on the proposal for a STEM Improvement Framework, and on how to ensure take up of the Framework.

Q15. Tell us what you think about this Improvement Framework. How can we best ensure uptake of this Framework in early years learning settings, schools and clusters?

A total of 134 respondents provided further comment at Question 15, 70% of all respondents. This included 87 group respondents and 47 individuals.

Most of those providing comment expressed some level of support for the Framework, with reference made to its principles as robust and setting out the correct vision for STEM improvement. However, a number of those expressing positive views nevertheless raised some issues or concerns around implementation - and the majority of respondents providing comment at Question 15 used their comments to raise issues or suggest amendment to the Framework.

For a number of these respondents concerns were focused on implementation of the Framework, including particular concerns for school and nursery level. This included reference to the Framework as "too general" to support detailed implementation. A small number of respondents also referred to the Framework as being too "top down", and some suggested that the Framework may place a significant strain on capacity across sectors. This included a suggestion that schools and clusters should be challenged to evaluate and declare their own timeline for implementing the Framework, so that more achievable deadlines could be set.

Measurement of performance also emerged as a theme across responses. This included reference to a need to benchmark evidence from a common starting point, and that measurement of performance incorporates qualitative elements to provide a more accurate account of progress.

A number of respondents included more detailed comments on the content of the Framework, including suggested additions and deletions:

  • Suggestions that links between the Framework to the overarching STEM strategy need to be clearer, and also the relationship to other relevant strategies.
  • Some respondents felt the role of bodies such as the schools inspectorate should be made clearer, particularly in supporting school clusters to develop.
  • A small number of respondents also suggested reconfiguring examination and assessment regimes to meet the needs of the Framework, including a potential role for The Scottish College of Educational Leadership in implementation.
  • Refocus the framework from self-evaluation of individual institutions to one based on evaluating partnerships and hubs.
  • The specifics of the implementation need to be fleshed out the Framework, and should include a 'spine' against which actions can be planned and enacted.
  • Some respondents suggested that the STEM leads should perhaps be a full-time role, rather than an addition to an existing job.
  • A number of respondents felt the Scottish Government should consider how many frameworks are in place, and how STEM relates to this - including for example, the National Improvement Framework. Some of these respondents felt the landscape could be simplified.
  • The role of STEM ambassadors was noted, including suggestions that the programme should be promoted as a central part of the Framework.
  • Consider matching the baseline to international benchmarks.
  • The Framework should avoid allowing measures to lead activity and could for example include a set of hard and soft performance indicators.
  • The use of 'named persons' was supported by some respondents, including some STEM industries. However, others raised concerns including calls for additional evidence to support the rationale for this proposal. It was also suggested that named persons should be supported with adequate training and resources, and that the aim should be for named persons in each primary school.

Suggested approaches to ensure uptake

Respondents raised a range of specific points in relation to uptake across sectors, and the measures that would maximise uptake in the target sectors. These are summarised below:

The main points raised in relation to Early Years were:

  • There needs to be more of a focus on primary schools and early years, with early years STEM provision also focused on preparing children for the school curriculum.
  • Professional learning for Early Years teachers needs to be brought out more clearly in the Framework.
  • Learners should be exposed to STEM careers and what they involve at the early years stage - it was suggested that pathways into STEM should begin at this stage, and continue through to HE level.
  • Expert and technical support should be provided locally, and when needed to early years educators was felt to be particularly important to ensuring uptake in early years education. This could also involve collaboration with secondary school teachers.

The main points raised in relation to Schools were:

  • A number of respondents referred to the potential pressure a new Framework could place on the time and resources of schools staff. These respondents suggested that targeted support and funding would be needed to aid schools in meeting the challenges set out by the Framework.
  • Several respondents referred to the value of external expertise for educators, including suggestions that this is based around long-term effects and relationships. Identifying innovation contacts for schools was also seen as essential to ensure their buy-in to the Framework and its successful implementation.
  • Collegiate approaches across school and between education levels - such as teachers from secondary schools, universities or colleges working with early years counterparts.
  • Some respondents felt that the Framework required a proactive approach to influence uptake by schools. These respondents suggested that buy-in from schools would be more likely if support was targeted towards middle management/administration, teacher workloads, and the role of carers.
  • Teacher training and CPD was mentioned by a range of respondents as a key means of implementation and support for the Framework.

The main points raised in relation to Colleges were:

  • Several respondents, and colleges in particular, suggested that the Framework emphasised early years and schools educational clusters, and suggested a stronger role for further and higher education, and community learning sectors. This included suggestions that colleges should engage more with primary education, and an example of STEM awareness days for primary school educators.
  • Vocational training though apprenticeships, such as Foundation Apprenticeships or Graduate Apprenticeships, were areas where colleges could play a particularly important role.
  • Several college respondents noted that they already play a role in collaboration and partnerships as STEM regional leaders. These respondents encouraged further development of partnerships and hubs alongside the Framework.

The main points raised in relation to Clusters were:

  • Respondents across a number of sectors wished to see clusters to be more inclusive, taking a community focused approach and bringing in, for example, out-of-school care settings. and parents/families. It was also suggested that rural clustering could be effective in addressing geographic inequalities.
  • The Framework's commitment to equality and diversity was specifically welcomed by a number of respondents, although some suggested amendment to the scope and focus of this. This included suggestions that the focus on learner needs was too narrow and would not meet aim 3, and that the Framework should do more to acknowledge the complexity of equality issues, especially those that arise between sectors and the impact on teacher training. Embedding equality within performance measures was suggested here.
  • Several respondents noted that existing practice within schools and academic clusters should be further developed. This included measures suggested for addressing equality and diversity, such as equality auditing of teaching materials and inclusion/embedding within CPD.


Email: Frank Creamer