STEM strategy for education and training: first annual report

Overview of progress in the first year of the five year STEM Strategy for Education and Training in Scotland.

Progress Towards Outcomes

The Strategy identifies a number of key outcomes we expect to see by 2022. These are:

  • increases in the proportion of people undertaking STEM-related learning, engagement, study and training across all sectors including in school-level qualifications and awards, and participation in apprenticeship programmes (Excellence and Inspiration);
  • increased practitioner confidence in STEM learning in the early years, primary years and in Community Learning and Development (CLD) settings and increased practitioner engagement in STEM professional learning opportunities (Excellence);
  • significant reductions in the equity gaps in participation and achievement in STEM learning, engagement, study, courses and training across all sectors in relation to gender, deprivation, rurality, race, disability and for care leavers (Equity);
  • increased numbers of people who understand the benefits and value of STEM for themselves, their families and their communities (Inspiration);
  • increased employment in STEM-related occupations, and employers are more satisfied with the STEM skills and capability of the people they employ from schools, colleges, universities and from apprenticeship programmes (Connection).

The STEM Strategy Implementation Group, chaired by the Minister for Further Education, Higher Education and Science, provides direction and oversight of delivery. This Group includes the key organisations responsible for implementing the Strategy. An External Advisory Group is making sure that the delivery reflects expert advice from a range of stakeholders. In addition, an Equalities sub-group has been formed to provide support and challenge and help us to ensure that equality and equity considerations are built into all the actions. The remit and membership of the Implementation Group and minutes of meetings are published on the Scottish Government website.

In its first year, the focus of delivery partners has mainly been to put infrastructure and resources in place to underpin, facilitate and drive forward delivery of the aims and actions of the Strategy.

Key achievements have been:

  • We have awarded 107 STEM Bursaries, totalling £2.08m, to encourage STEM career changers into teaching and have developed new routes into STEM teaching for graduates.
  • Maths Week Scotland and school holiday maths challenges have been established as an annual event to raise the profile of numeracy and maths and promote the value, relevance and joy of the subject. Schools in every local authority and many early learning and childcare settings in Scotland took part in the second annual Maths Week Scotland in September 2018 with events for children, families and adults right across the country.
  • Education Scotland has developed and published a self-evaluation framework to allow early learning and childcare providers and schools to evaluate and improve their STEM learning and teaching. The framework encourages providers and schools to collaborate with one another and work with external partners to improve STEM learning experiences for young people.
  • A new team of Gender Balance and Equalities Officers has been appointed to extend and embed the approaches of the successful Improving Gender Balance project across all schools in Scotland.
  • Education Scotland has launched the ‘Enhancing Professional Learning in STEM’ Grants programme to develop new STEM-related professional learning programmes and resources for early years and community learning practitioners, teachers and school technicians.
  • We have initiated a new Young STEM Leaders programme to support young people to inspire each other to get involved with STEM.
  • Science Centres and Festivals are working with the community learning and development sector to expand their reach into deprived communities.
  • Colleges are leading the development of regional STEM Hubs to strengthen collaboration between partners including universities, Science Centres and employers. The STEM Hubs will facilitate the development of regional STEM strategies to progress the aims and aspirations of the STEM Strategy.
2018-19, 107 approved bursaries £2.08m

The STEM bursary programme exceeded its 2018-19 target (of 100), with 107 bursaries approved totalling £2.08 million.

In Year Two we will build on the momentum developed in Year One. In particular:

  • New Regional STEM Advisors will work with key partners to support practitioners through the Regional Improvement Collaboratives, helping to co-ordinate STEM regionally.
  • We will promote and raise awareness of the links between outdoor learning and STEM subjects in the early learning and childcare sector, including the production of an online module.
  • The newly-appointed Gender Balance and Equalities Officers will deliver gender training to schools and teachers, and develop a gender champion network and a gender kitemark to grow and spread best practice.
  • A national STEM engagement campaign will be launched and implemented.
  • New STEM Awards will be introduced with an initial focus on early learning and childcare and schools, to recognise and build on activities in these sectors.
  • We will hold the first annual community learning and development STEM conference to showcase inspirational lifelong learning STEM practice.
  • An online directory of quality assured STEM inspiration activities for schools will be developed.
  • We will develop a comprehensive careers strategy for the all-age careers service in colleges and universities.
  • Education Scotland will undertake a national thematic inspection of numeracy and mathematics as part of a range of national thematic inspections during 2018-19.
A STEM career changer bursary recipient said:

"I am already getting huge satisfaction from working in the classroom and I’m looking forward to being able to use my experience in industry to prepare young people for the workplace.
It’s important to be able to explain how the skills we teach are relevant to real jobs and having a career under your belt gives your words extra credibility."

The following chapters expand on progress, set out future plans and examine our priorities as we enter the second year of implementation.

Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) have been identified to measure progress against the aims and key outcomes of the Strategy. These indicators are long-term targets, reflecting the ambitions and five-year lifespan of the programme from 2017 to 2022.

While some of the KPIs are closely linked to obvious specific actions within the Strategy and should see early results (for example, Initial Teacher Education intake targets), many of the KPI targets will be dependent on a wide range of factors which the Strategy attempts to address across a number of actions and for which there are complex inter-relationships which could take some time to see results. For example, improving the gender balance in attainment in key STEM-related subjects will be dependent on a wide range of factors including early years and primary school activity, and work with parents, carers and families. We are still in the first year of implementation and data collection, and analysis is retrospective. In many cases the information we can provide at this point relates to the period before the Strategy was in place. This year’s KPI analysis is, therefore, largely a baseline for measuring progress. These KPIs will be kept under review as we move forward with delivery of the Strategy.

We have linked activities to the KPIs throughout the report and the full indicators and summary data are set out in Annex B. Tables showing the full background data for the KPIs are being published separately on the Scottish Government website[1].


Email: Frank Creamer

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