STEM education and training strategy - refresh: annual report

Annual report of progress on delivery of the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) education and training strategy. Sets out a range of actions by education and other stakeholders under each of the four themes of the strategy.

5 Inspiration

Maths Week Scotland

Maths Week Scotland 2021 ran from 27 September to 3 October with a mix of digital and in-person events with the theme "Our World". There were approximately 65 different activities, events and downloadable resources delivered by 25 organisations, many supported by project funding schemes. 75,448 pupils from 289 schools registered from all corners of Scotland. Public activity included virtual talks, family open days and maths trails at visitor attractions including National Museum of Scotland, Aberdeen Science Centre, Dumfries and Galloway towns and a range of local museums across Scotland. Workplaces got involved with the #ShowYourWorking social media campaign sharing how they use maths in their industries.

A new Large Grants Funding scheme expanded the reach of Maths Week Scotland, working with eight organisations to deliver large-scale projects to school, adult, family and community audiences. This included CPD training, virtual apps, workshops, videos and community activity days. Funding was awarded to: Aberdeen Science Centre, Scottish Schools Education Research Centre, Dynamic Earth, Dumfries and Galloway Council, University of Glasgow, University of Edinburgh, Learning Link Scotland and Open University.

To help create a strong pipeline of STEM talent into the labour market and ensure that everyone develops STEM skills and knowledge we will promote inspiration for STEM by:

  • creating positive STEM role models, mentors and coaches.
  • promoting the opportunities and benefits of STEM learning and careers.
  • recognising and celebrating success.

Great British Bake Off Winner and National Numeracy Ambassador Peter Sawkins hosted a virtual session for 750 primary pupils. Pupils helped him plan a Maths Week Scotland cake and heard how vital maths has been in his baking career. According to evaluation 92% of educators felt that Maths Week Scotland had given them new ideas for how to cover maths topics and 75% said it gave them more confidence covering maths topic. This was particularly the case among primary and early years teachers.

Parental Engagement

Parents continue to play a vital role in supporting their children's learning. We are aware that the pandemic has created a number of challenges for parents. Parents' involvement in school and communication between school and home has continued to be vitally important at this time. In relation to STEM, Education Scotland continues to promote and support a range of family learning resources associated with STEM and the National Parent Forum's "STEM in a Nutshell" guide provides information to parents about STEM careers and subject choices.

My World of Work

My World of Work Live is a set of fun, interactive activities to help young people understand future careers. Aimed at P5 to S6 pupils across Scotland, activities are designed and delivered by experts with a passion for education and learning. Delivered virtually or face-to-face in schools, activities use the latest technology to engage and inspire, bringing school subjects to life. Activities are designed to support the delivery of experience and outcomes in Curriculum for Excellence and are aligned to the Career Management Skills framework and support the realisation of self, strengths, horizons and networks. In 2021/22, My World of Work Live has delivered interactive, hands-on sessions to over 12,500 young people across Scotland.

STEM Nation Award Programme

The STEM Nation Award programme has been developed to promote and celebrate whole-setting approaches to STEM. Education Scotland's STEM self-evaluation framework provides the foundations for the new award, helping to guide settings to highly effective practice, whatever their starting point.

Practitioners are encouraged to engage in professional dialogue and evaluation to support improvements to STEM learning in their setting. The aim of the award is to promote transformative and sustained change at setting and community level to support Scotland's journey to be a leading STEM nation. Early learning and childcare, schools and community learning and development settings can all participate in the award programme.

The award consists of five elements that settings can work towards over a three-year period. The five STEM Nation Award elements are:

  • leadership in STEM – supporting effective leadership at all levels including children and young people leading STEM learning.
  • STEM family learning / STEM learning in the community – recognising commitment to family and community learning which is helping to build the STEM capital of learners, their families and the wider community.
  • Employability and STEM partnership working – encouraging sustained collaboration between settings and their STEM partners to develop learners' STEM and employability skills.
  • STEM curriculum and learner pathways – recognising the work of settings in developing an inspiring STEM curriculum and associated learner pathways.
  • equity and equality in STEM – celebrating the work settings are undertaking to address the issues of equity and equality in STEM.

Education Scotland and SSERC have collaborated to support the development of children and young peoples' leadership in STEM. The two awards have been designed to be complementary. For example, evidence referencing SSERC's Young STEM Leader Programme can be used in support of different elements of the STEM Nation Award.

Hazeldene Family Centre, East Renfrewshire

The team at Hazeldene have been awarded all five elements of the STEM Nation Award. They have successfully embedded STEM in their curriculum with all staff confident in leading STEM learning.

They are an excellent example of collaboration, working with primary schools at key transitions as well as providing professional learning for ELC and Primary colleagues. The enthusiasm of the staff and passion with which they describe their STEM Nation Award experience including overcoming barriers, embracing digital learning and supporting family learning demonstrates their continuing commitment to their STEM journey.

Young STEM Leader (YSLP)

Six levels of the programme are currently available, divided into a non-formal and formal programmes:

Non-formal programme - linked to CfE Second, Third and Fourth levels Formal programme - linked to SCQF Levels 4, 5 and 6
25% 20% 10% 10% 15% 20%

As of March 2022, more than 7,000 young people have engaged with YSLP. Flexibility and ease of delivery are key in ensuring that the programme is available to all young people in any setting. Interventions have included establishing a Community Learning and Development group and supporting ASN centres to participate in the award. Education Scotland's Improving Gender Balance and Equalities Team has collaborated with SSERC to develop a new gender equality module for the YSLP.

SSERC operates Enthuse Partnerships and Education Industry Partnerships in Scotland with the aim of linking educators, schools, colleges and industry together to benefit young people and inspire them in STEM. In 2021/22 this partnership has generated 150 training days for teachers and will lead to Young STEM Leader Awards for the learners. In addition, Nuffield Research Placements are now being led by SSERC and work is underway to create 90 fully funded summer placements in industry or university for young people in deprived, underserved and underrepresented groups in Scotland.

YSLP Tutor Assessor: "This experience has changed my perception of what STEM is. Before, I just thought of it as 'school science' but as I got into it, it opened my eyes to the practical nature of the STEM stuff – and having our own makerspace has meant we've been able to keep expanding our knowledge and confidence about what's possible. I see STEM everywhere now – I'm always thinking about how we can integrate it into our work. I want to get other youth workers engaged too."

Science Centres

Since 2017, Scotland's science centres and science festivals have played a key role in progress towards the goals and outcomes of the Strategy, with a specific focus around increasing the numbers of people from the most deprived and rural areas participating in quality STEM engagement.

Funding levels for the science centres for financial year 2021/22 were maintained from 2020/21, including the Community and Transport Subsidy elements, which directly fund and encourage engagements with people and communities within eligible demographics.

The pandemic had a significant impact on gauging progress in this area, particularly the effect of lockdown restrictions and health and safety protocols on face-to-face engagement with schools, community groups and others. Despite this, Scotland's science centres, science festival organisers and other partners worked with the Government to develop creative and flexible approaches. This approach maximised the technologies available in order to continue to interact and engage with target groups; particularly those in deprived and rural communities.

While, by necessity, this often meant delivering programmes virtually or in a Covid-19-secure manner to smaller audiences, this continuing engagement was crucial at a time when other learning and support services were limited.

In 2020/21, while mainly closed for lockdown, science centres alone were able to engage over 5,622 pupils across 151 schools. They also reported over 103,773 STEM engagements of all types with members of community groups across Scotland. These figures do not include engagement with online resources –conservatively estimated at over 1.5 million.

As science centres and festivals have continued to develop relationships with community groups across the country, there has been an annual increase in the number of engagements. In 2016/17, the baseline figure for engagements was 8,235 which led to the setting of an original STEM Strategy target of 10,000 engagements to be achieved by 2022. The effort and investment made in this area drove engagement figures to increase exponentially with 8,604 engagements recorded in 2017/18, and 11,505 achieved in 2018/19, exceeding the original 10,000 target. This success led to a revised target that aims for 15,000 engagements by 2022.

It is encouraging to note that in the final quarter of 2021/22, the gradual lifting of Covid-19 restrictions has resulted in schools beginning to return to in-person visits to science centres. We are confident that the excellent progress made by our partners in terms of STEM engagements in our schools and communities will continue.



Back to top