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.


We will promote Excellence by:

  • Improving the supply of STEM talent into the profession.
  • Improving STEM learning and teaching, and delivering enhanced professional learning.
  • Prioritising STEM in the expansion of apprenticeships.
  • Maintaining our research excellence in our universities.

As a result of the actions in this section, by 2022, we expect to see:

  • 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. (KPI I)
  • Increased practitioner confidence in STEM learning in the early years, primary years and in CLD settings, and increased practitioner engagement in STEM professional learning opportunities. (KPI II)

Improving the supply of STEM talent to the teaching profession

107 STEM Bursaries of up to £20,000 were awarded to encourage STEM career changers into teaching in the 2018-19 academic year. These bursaries were targeted at secondary teaching in shortage STEM subjects – currently mathematics, physics, computing, chemistry and technical education. The 2019-20 scheme will open for applications early in 2019.

New routes into teaching for graduates have been available from January 2018 and, in 2019, the University of Dundee’s new route will support 30‑50 new STEM graduates into teaching.

Both these actions are contributing to and are being measured against KPI Ia which counts the number of students on Initial Teacher Education courses in STEM subjects. Targets are set for these courses for the subjects where there are shortages of teachers. These targets have been increasing each year and overall intakes for the STEM secondary teacher training courses are increasing in response to the setting of stretching targets.

Improving STEM learning and teaching and delivering enhanced professional learning

Education Scotland has published a self-evaluation framework for STEM learning to help schools and early learning providers improve STEM learning and teaching. A new STEM page on Education Scotland’s National Improvement Hub provides ‘one stop shop’ access to a wide range of STEM learning resources for practitioners. This includes access to the National Numeracy and Mathematics Hub that provides a wealth of professional learning specifically related to numeracy and mathematics. New STEM-related professional learning for early years and community learning practitioners, teachers and school technicians are being supported through the newly-established Enhancing Professional Learning in STEM grants programme. Developing these further will be a priority for the coming year.

63% of primary teachers who responded to an Education Scotland survey, agreed or strongly agreed with the statement ‘I am confident in delivering STEM learning in my practice.’ (KPI IIa)

We have continued to support the Scottish Schools Education Research Centre (SSERC) in financial year 2018-19 for its programme of professional learning for teachers, which is expanding to include more digital learning. We have also continued to fund the Raising Aspirations in Science Education (RAiSE) programme in partnership with The Wood Foundation. The programme, established to support improvements in primary science and STEM practice, is now engaging with its third tranche of local authorities. We continue to provide tailored support to local authorities to improve digital skills and computing learning in schools.

The Scottish Government is investing £1.6 M over four years (2014 to 2019) to support numeracy and mathematics professional development in local authorities. Building on this, in 2019-20, Education Scotland will undertake a national thematic inspection of numeracy and mathematics as part of their implementation of the Making Maths Count report recommendations. This will evaluate the quality of children’s and young people’s learning experiences and attainment in mathematics and share examples of good practice.

A network of Regional STEM Advisors has been recruited to support learning and teaching in the 3-18 curriculum and raise STEM attainment. Their priority in the coming year will be to engage with regional teams including the RAiSE primary science leads, the college-led STEM Hubs and the Regional Improvement Collaboratives (RICs), and to work with the new Improving Gender Balance and Equalities team. Throughout 2019, the advisers will work with these key partners to support practitioners through the Regional Improvement Collaboratives, helping to co-ordinate STEM regionally.

We have provided funding to Inspiring Scotland to work with eight local authorities to improve outdoor learning as part of the expansion of early learning and childcare. We will use the RICs to share the learning from this project across the RIC areas across Scotland. In December 2018 we published, in collaboration with Inspiring Scotland and the Care Inspectorate, Out to Play; practical guidance for creating outdoor play experiences for early learning and childcare. This guide is aimed at practitioners for whom there is a perceived difficulty in setting up or accessing outdoor space and who wish to increase and improve outdoor experiences for children, linking strongly to developing STEM skills. In 2019, we will continue to promote and raise awareness of the links between outdoor learning and STEM subjects in the Early Learning and Childcare (ELC) sector.

During 2019, we will also put in place a contract to produce two online modules on STEM and on outdoor learning accessible to all ELC staff. We will ensure this work is carried out in engagement with the ELC sector. We will also explore how to collect feedback on the module to measure the success of the online training. We will ensure this Scottish Government funded and co-ordinated training, along with all other training options available to ELC staff, are easily accessible through our new Online National Directory of ELC training programmes.

Each of these actions will complement each other and contribute to achieving the target against KPI II to increase practitioner confidence in STEM learning which is being measured through cumulative hours of STEM professional learning.

Prioritising STEM in the expansion of apprenticeships

Improving productivity through inclusive growth and quality jobs with greater alignment of investment in education and skills with industry needs are key drivers for the expansion of work based learning. Consequently, growth in the provision of apprenticeship frameworks, including STEM, reflect this need and this is reviewed annually.

Foundation Apprenticeships provide senior phase school pupils (S5&S6) access to structured work based learning qualifications to industry-recognised standards at Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework (SCQF) level 6 (equivalent to a Higher). Foundation Apprenticeships have been designed and developed with industry and the Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA), and are aligned to key sectors of the economy with current skills shortages and projected future jobs growth. The Foundation Apprenticeships are delivered through partnerships between schools, a local college, or learning provider and local employers. The number of STEM Foundation Apprenticeship (FA) frameworks has increased from four in 2016 to six in 2017. The development of additional frameworks and the expansion of FA delivery saw the number of learners starting STEM FA Frameworks increase from 161 in 2016 to 552 in 2017. 2018 Foundation Apprenticeship data will be published later in February 2019.

A Graduate Apprenticeship is a fully-funded degree programme which provides work-based learning opportunities to new or existing employees. These programmes are designed to enable employees to study up to degree level (Bachelors or Masters) while spending the majority of their time in the workplace. They have been created in partnership with industry and the further and higher education sector. The Graduate Apprenticeships combine academic knowledge with skills development to enable participants to become more effective and productive in the workplace.

The apprenticeship starts target increased in 2018-19 to 28,000, in keeping with the Scottish Government’s commitment to increase apprenticeship starts to 30,000 by 2020. From this year, Graduate Apprenticeship (GA) starts will be included in the apprenticeship total and contribute towards the Scottish Government’s commitment. These annual statistics will be published in June 2019, and Skills Development Scotland will publish a separate Graduate Apprenticeship publication in March 2019.

By the end of 2018, 14 of Scotland’s universities and colleges were delivering Graduate Apprenticeships, in 12 subject areas covering sectors including ICT/Digital, Cyber Security, Data, Civil Engineering, Engineering, Construction and Business. Nine of the 12 new Graduate Apprenticeship (GA) frameworks developed for delivery in Academic Years 2018-2019 are STEM.

This work is being measured against KPI Ic and KPI Id around provision of apprenticeship opportunities, which is showing positive progress.

STEM teacher Training entrants have increased from 380 in 2015-16 to 530 in 2017-18. (KPI Ia)

STEM teacher Training entrants have increased from 380 in 2015-16 to 530 in 2017-18. (KPI Ia)


Email: Frank Creamer

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