STEM strategy for education and training: second annual report

Second annual report on progress with the STEM Education and Training Strategy which shows how we have built on progress in the first year to start to deliver benefits for educators and young people.

5. Equity

To address inequity and inequality of opportunity and access to STEM that contributes to occupational segregation in the workplace and inequality in society, we will promote Equity by:

  • tackling inequity in STEM learning and careers
  • improving participation in STEM further and higher education courses and apprenticeships
  • increasing access to public science engagement events

As a result of the actions under this theme by 2022, we expect to see:

  • 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. (KPI III)

This section provides an overview of progress against individual actions under the Equity theme. While there has been an initial focus on gender, the Strategy aims to ensure equity of access across all of the protected characteristics, and equity and equality are also being considered across all the actions under the Strategy.

Tackling Inequity in STEM learning and careers

The team of six Improving Gender Balance and Equalities (IGBE) officers is now established in Education Scotland. These officers are working with schools and early learning and childcare (ELC) settings on a regional basis to expand and embed the approaches developed in the Improving Gender Balance pilot. The pilot programme was instigated by Skills Development Scotland and the Institute of Physics, and it developed practical ways to address gender bias and stereotyping and tackle inequity in learning.

The IGBE officers have been working to build their networks through speaking at events, visiting ELC settings, schools and clusters and rolling out their training offer. For the period to December 2019, the IGBE officers engaged directly with 50 school clusters, and had over 2,200 engagements with practitioners. A new blended programme of professional development has also been developed and is being trialled before being extended nationally in 2020-21.

STEM in rural schools

Sgoil Breascleit

#Equity #Rural #Primary #Digital

Bun Sgoil Breascleit is a predominately Gaelic school on the west coast of the Isle of Lewis with two classes and 25 children. The school has embedded STEM and coding over a number of years, and make the most of their beautiful surroundings and local community for STEM learning. Although being a small, remote island school, they have made excellent links with STEM industries and demonstrate a global outlook with their work. They have won many national awards for their work, being named SCDI Young Engineers and Science Club of 2019 for the Highlands and Islands.

Aviemore Early Years and Childcare

#Equity #Rural #EarlyYears #OutdoorLearning

Aviemore early years and childcare is set within the Cairngorm National Park. The establishment applied for an Enhancing Professional Learning in STEM Grant from the Scottish Government and were awarded £3,000 to develop STEM in the outdoors for early level practitioners. Two child development officers attended STEM in the outdoors training and are now cascading this training for early level staff across the associated school group. They are also delivering training to parents to encourage them to look at STEM in the outdoors with their own children.

Dunoon Cluster (Cowal)

#Equity #Rural #Clusters #IDL #Gender

Dunoon Grammar hosted a Cowal STEM event for ten of their associated primary schools, where the primary seven pupils took part in nine workshops based on a Mission to Mars. This included testing different materials for heat shields, using virtual reality to explore the red planet and coding robots to explore bumpy terrain. The primary pupils were assisted by volunteer pupils from the secondary school, as well as teachers and staff. There was very high engagement from pupils with 98% of boys and 89% of girls reporting an increase in their knowledge of science, 76% of boys and 88% of girls reporting an increase in technology, 82.5% of boys and 77% of girls reporting an increase in engineering, and 69% of boys and 56% of girls reporting an increase in maths.


#Equity #Deprivation #STEMAmbassadors

Working4U is a partnership developed by West Dunbartonshire Council, initially aimed at helping families and pupils from Balloch Primary in the lowest deprivation category.

The project involved six families meeting on a weekly basis after school for two hours. During this time they undertook a STEM activity and then subsequently learned how to prepare a meal from scratch, using basic ingredients. Each STEM activity directly relating to the subsequent cooking topic. For example, sustainable fishing for the fish week, photosynthesis and the growth of plants for the vegetarian week. The sessions finished with the families sharing their meal together.

The Council approached Science Connects, the STEM Ambassador hub for the west of Scotland, with a request to support this six week STEM project. The hub provided two STEM Ambassadors to support this project. Evaluation of this approach to sourcing, cooking and sharing food was very positive and West Dunbartonshire Council are looking to expand the initiative. In response to this, Science Connects are now running training sessions on the activities so that additional ambassadors can support more schools.

Different approaches are also being used to increase capacity for raising awareness and supporting practitioners, including local networking events 'IGBE Meets' for practitioners to share ideas. Many local authorities have included IGBE workshops in their teacher probationer programmes for 2019-20.

In 2020, a self-evaluation framework for Improving Gender Balance will be finalised and piloted with ELC settings and schools. These will support establishments to reflect on their strengths, and identify next steps.

Stakeholders and partners are helping to steer the programme, and external evaluation of the impact of this work has been commissioned which will guide the way the programme develops. The programme will also be informed from wider evidence gathered via the Regional STEM advisers, the college-led STEM Hubs and through the education inspection and review process.

Skills Development Scotland is supporting work in this area through sharing examples of good practice among their providers in challenging stereotypes, and ensuring their careers advisers are able to actively challenge gender assumptions about subject and career choice.

Young people and career changers are also being supported to access high value opportunities in Scotland's tech sector. Skills Development Scotland published Scotland's Digital Technologies Report in summer 2019, which identified that the sector supports almost 100,000 jobs in the Scottish economy. The number of people needed to support the tech industry continues to increase with more than 13,000 jobs available each year in Scotland.

Diversity in the tech sector continues to be a priority. Despite research revealing that the number of females joining the technology sector has risen from 18% to 23.4% in the last two years, there is still much to do. Skills Development Scotland facilitate the industry-led Tackling the Technology Gender Gap Together workstream which consists of partners from across education, public sector and government. Activities include a research programme, a network of female technology apprenticeship ambassadors, a mentoring and diversity resource for technology employers, and a coding badge for uniformed groups developed by Skills Development Scotland, Education Scotland and Girl Guiding Scotland.

Through the Digital Start Fund, Skills Development Scotland is also supporting individuals on low incomes to gain skills and jobs in growth areas such as data, cyber security and software.

These actions are contributing to KPI III which measures gender and deprivation gaps in STEM at school, college, university, in apprenticeships and in STEM engagement. Over the medium to long term we expect this action to lead to an improved gender balance in the STEM National Qualifications, STEM Awards and STEM learner pathways. We are measuring this through KPI III a on the attainment gap in STEM qualifications and KPI IIIb on gender balance in attainment in Physics and Computing at SCQF Level 6 (Higher Level). The attainment gap reduced from 36.8pp in 2015-16 to 34.4pp in 2018-19. Data for KPI III b does not yet show noticeable improvement for Physics but there is some improvement for Computing.

The attainment gap in STEM qualifications at SCQF Level 6 or better reduced from 36.8pp in 2015-16 to 34.4pp in 2018-19 (KPI III a)
36.8pp 2015-16; 34.4pp 2018-19

Higher education courses and apprenticeships

Each college and university has now produced a Gender Action Plan (GAP) outlining how they will advance equity and reduce gender disparities within STEM subject areas. A first progress report was published by the Scottish Funding Council in December 2017 with further reports in 2018 and 2019. This cycle has now changed to reporting every two years, with the next progress report due in 2021. The data provided in the accompanying Gender Action Plan Technical Report will, however, continue to be captured in the Scottish Funding Council's Widening Access Report, due to publish in Spring 2020.

The February 2019 progress report suggested some movement in engineering, particularly in the college sector. It also suggested some (slight) shifts in other subject imbalances in colleges. Imbalances in the university sector appear more stubborn. Against the background of the GAP's target to improve men's representation in the university sector, data for 2015-16 and 2016-17 suggest the position has worsened. This further highlights the need for a sectoral approach, led by the Scottish Funding Council, to tackle these issues.

The ambition of the GAP is that, by 2030, no college or university subject will have a gender imbalance greater than 75% of one gender.

The Scottish Funding Council's School Engagement Framework continues to result in a number of new delivery models for engagement between schools, colleges, universities and employers. This includes online, blended and on-campus approaches.

Skills Development Scotland has worked with Equate Scotland to provide mentoring support to female apprentices in STEM. As part of this project, Equate Scotland has developed an SQA accredited module for employers that will provide them with the knowledge and skills to establish their own in-house mentoring specifically aimed at women in STEM sectors. This module was successfully piloted during summer 2018 and has been delivered by West Lothian College on behalf of Skills Development Scotland and Equate Scotland.

Skills Development Scotland's team of Equality Executives also continue to work at a local level with individual training providers and employers to support positive action. This includes working with providers and employers in STEM sectors to attract more women, for example by holding women-only information evenings or taster events, and actively targeting marketing and recruitment materials at female audiences across industries such as engineering, plumbing or oil and gas. This team also works closely with careers advisers and school staff to promote STEM industries to learners, specifically highlighting apprenticeships as a pathway into these sectors.

Skills Development Scotland has established a Gender Commission, in response to findings by the Scottish Apprenticeship Advisory Board. Members have been drawn from employers, education, trade union and parent/carer representatives. The Commission will develop recommendations and proposals that offer business-ready, practical solutions to what employers can do now, and in the future, to address any real or perceived barriers to improving gender diversity in their workforce. The Commission will run for 18 months and report in Spring 2021. Its work, along with Skills Development Scotland's other gender equality workstreams will be taken in to account as part of the wider considerations of the Deputy First Minister's Gender Equality in Education and Learning Taskforce.

These actions are contributing to KPI III to reduce the equity gaps in participation and achievement in STEM learning, engagement, study, courses and training, particularly KPI III c and d, and outcomes may take some time to become apparent. In Cohort 1 (2016-2018), 8.1% of STEM Foundation Apprenticeship starts were female. This increased to 13.1% in Cohort 2 (2017-2019) and 20.6% in Cohort 3 (2018-2020). We hope to see this positive progress continuing.

The percentage of females starting in STEM-related Foundation Apprenticeships increased from 8.1% in Cohort 1 to 13.1% in Cohort 2 to 20.6% in Cohort 3. (KPI III d)
8.1% Cohort 1 (2016-2018); 13.1% Cohort 2 (2017-2019); 20.6% Cohort 3 (2018-2020)

Increasing access to public science engagement events

An in-depth analysis of Science Centre funding in 2018 helped identify a focus for future funding to improve the offer to under-served communities such as those in more deprived and rural areas.

Funding of £2.65 million is provided to Scotland's four Science Centres to support them to encourage people of all ages to engage with STEM by presenting it in a fun, inspiring and educational way. In 2018-19 our Science Centre funding supported the delivery of science engagement experiences to around a million people. In the same year, 11,505 people from community groups across Scotland visited our Science Centres, exceeding the 10,000 target, and up from 8,604 in 2017-18 and 8,235 in 2016-17.

Funding of £250,000 was provided to support the delivery of 18 science festivals making STEM accessible to a public and schools audience of 200,000 with a particular focus on strengthening young people's interest and knowledge. The festivals provide an annual, local focus for activities and events, often in towns and cities that don't have a Science Centre. Following delivery of Operation Earth outreach to schools attending the Orkney Science Festival in September 2018, 100% of participants 'strongly agreed' or 'agreed' that "Dynamic Earth gave them an experience they couldn't get from somewhere else".

Education Scotland's STEM, IGBE and CLD officers are also helping to build stronger links with the science centres and festivals in their regions and help support community outreach activities.

These actions also contribute to KPI III, and are being specifically measured against KPI III e and f, where improvements have already been seen with an 11.9 percentage point increase in the proportion of schools from the most deprived quintile that receive a quality STEM engagement experience from funded Science Centres between 2017-18 and 2018-19. We have also exceeded our target of 10,000 for the number of members from community groups from the most deprived or rural areas participating in quality engagement with Science Centres, with 11,505 participants in 2018-19. The target for KPI III f has therefore been increased to 15,000 by 2022.

In 2018-19, 62.5% of eligible schools in the most deprived quintile received a quality STEM engagement experience compared with 50.6% in 2017-18 and 37.9% in 2016-17. (KPI III e)
Most deprived quintile 37.9% 2016-17; 50.6% 2017-18; 62.5% 2018-19
The number of members of community groups from most deprived or rural areas participating in quality engagement with Science Centres and Festivals increased from 7,364 in 2014-15 to 8,604 in 2017-18 to 11,505 in 2018-19. (KPI III f)
Quality community group engagement with Science Centres and Festivals 7,364 2014-15; 8,604 2017-18; 11,505 2018-19



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