Publication - Minutes

STEM Strategy Implementation Group minutes: 3 April 2019

Published: 18 Nov 2019
Directorate:
Learning Directorate
Part of:
Education
Date of meeting: 3 Apr 2019
Date of next meeting: 4 Sep 2019

Minutes from the fifth meeting of STEM Strategy Implementation Group.

Published:
18 Nov 2019
STEM Strategy Implementation Group minutes: 3 April 2019

Attendees and apologies

  • Richard Lochhead, Minister for Further Education, Higher Education and Science (Chair)
  • Lesley Sheppard [LSh], Scottish Government
  • Roddy McDonald [RM], Scottish Government
  • Oonagh Gil [OG], Scottish Government
  • Linda Pooley [LP], Scottish Government
  • Iain Gordon [IG], Universities Scotland
  • Ian Menzies [IM], Education Scotland 
  • Ken Edwards [KE], Skills Development Scotland
  • Martin McGuire [MM], Colleges Scotland 
  • Sue Pope [SP], Scottish Qualifications Authority
  • Lorna Sweeney [LS], Association of Directors of Education in Scotland (ADES)
  • Talat Yaqoob [TY], Equate Scotland
  • Rodney Ayre [RA], Developing Young Workforce
  • Beverley Akinlami [BA], Community Learning & Development Managers Scotland
  • Angela Cox [AC], SDS on behalf of South of Scotland Economic Partnership
  • Robin Hoyle [RH], Glasgow Science Centre

Apologies

  • Julia Brown, Scottish Enterprise
  • Eddie Follan, COSLA
  • Morven Cameron, Highlands and Islands Enterprise
  • Alan Armstrong, Education Scotland
  • Kevin Mitchell, Care Inspectorate
  • Catherine Agnew, Care Inspectorate
  • Robert Hynd, Community Learning and Development Managers Scotland
  • Matt Lancashire, Scottish Council for Development and Industry (SCDI)
  • Michael Cross, Scottish Funding Council
  • Stephen Breslin, Glasgow Science Centre

Secretariat 

  • Sara Lightbody [SL], Scottish Government
  • Barbara Morton [BM], Scottish Government
  • Jamie Duguid [JD], Scottish Government

Others attending:

  • Irene Permaul [IP], Scottish Government
  • Professor Iain Hunter [IH], Co-Chair of the STEM Strategy External Advisory Group

Items and actions

Welcome and introductions

The Minister welcomed members to the fifth meeting of the Implementation Group, and outlined the agenda for the meeting flagging the key role of the group in ensuring continued challenge and support in the delivery of the strategy.

It was noted that Linda Leuchars of Dundee Science Centre, representing the Science Centres has temporarily stepped down from the Group due to upcoming maternity leave. She will be replaced on the Group in the interim by Dr Stephen Breslin of Glasgow Science Centre, with Dr Robin Hoyle standing in for this meeting.

It was also noted that Angela Cox, Principal of Borders College, was replacing Robert Orr of SDS as the representative for the South of Scotland Economic Partnership.  

Minutes and action points from the previous meeting

No comments were received on the minutes of the fourth meeting which were approved and will be published on the Scottish Government web page.

Action:  

  • minutes of the fourth meeting of the Implementation Group to be published on the Scottish Government website.

SL confirmed that all the actions from the previous meeting had been completed and provided an update on discussions around employer representation. It was advised that a potential representative from a recruitment agency had been identified who may be able to offer an insight in to skills gaps for employers, and that other routes for engagement will continue to be explored e.g. through the DYW regional groups, the STEM Hubs or one-off events. RA suggested that the Federation of Small Businesses or Scottish Engineering may be worth approaching.

Progress update    

External Advisory Group and Equalities Sub-Group update

SL provided an update on the most recent meetings of the Equalities Sub-Group and External Advisory Group.  

An overview of the discussions from the latest meeting of the Equalities Sub-Group meeting of 28 February was provided and it was advised that the group had accepted feedback from the External Advisory Group that they should focus on early years, primary and family engagement. The inclusion of a new column in the action tracker on equalities was flagged and that feedback had been provided that there appeared to be a focus on female participation, with more emphasis needed on tackling broader characteristics and that greater intersectional data would be helpful. It was advised that the group has asked for future updates from SDS and SFC, with the next meeting scheduled to take place on 1 August.

It was highlighted that the External Advisory Group meeting on 14 March had considered the same papers being presented at this meeting and that feedback had been incorporated in to the papers. It was indicated that moving forward the group had indicated that it would like to receive updates on the DYW programme and specific SDS actions in the strategy linked to this, areas where there are higher scoring risks to actions being met, and social science research on what engages adults and encourages ongoing engagement with STEM. It was advised that the next meeting of the group is scheduled for 15 August 2019.

IH informed the Group that the External advisory Group had commented on some of the language within the key performance indicators, and that they had suggested that there needed to be consideration of a heat map of initiatives and where the greatest impacts can be made.

Annual report/action tracker

BM provided an overview of the annual report and latest action tracker and flagged that data tables reporting on the key performance indicators had been published alongside the report. Individual action owners were asked to report on progress for their respective areas.

KE provided an updated for SDS and outlined the following key points:

  • additional capacity has been created in the central support team within SDS and will work with Education Scotland Action Officers
  • new mechanisms to measure school by school activity are being put in place
  • good progress is being made on apprenticeships, with a low drop-out rate and 7 out of 12 frameworks being STEM related. A pilot of National 4/5 level Foundation Apprenticeships was flagged
  • development of new careers site (My Kids Career) was highlighted that will be forward looking and focus on areas of growth to complement MyWoW
  • a delay in the NPFS Nutshell was advised but it was expected to be progressed in the next month

BM provide an SFC update on behalf of MCr who had been unable to make the meeting. 

  • as with SDS, SFC has an internal STEM Reference Group comprising staff from across the organisation reflecting that work on the STEM Strategy is distributed across several business areas (Innovation Centres; Gender Action Plans; DYW) allowing clear oversight of progress 
  • Gender Action Plan Annual Progress Report and Technical Report was published in February
  • work continues on STEM Hubs with challenges around regional coordination and the funding necessary to drive the ‘image’ and identity of the initiative
  • university placement audit largely complete, awaiting some further data, to provide a baseline for STEM placement activity across the sector. A similar exercise will be undertaken in colleges in the second half of the year
  • the national STEM Hub Steering Group will move to publish an annual report at the end of 2019
  • LSh provided an update on work to increase STEM teacher numbers and positive progress as a result of focussed activity through STEM bursaries;  the Teaching Makes People Campaign and the drive towards increased targets for STEM teacher related intakes to universities although reflected that in some areas shortages were still evident

IM provided an update on the work within Education Scotland including:

  • new STEM, IGB and CLD teams in place
  • restructuring within Education Scotland to align with regional structures and focus on local priorities
  • supporting and leading CLPL, including new CLPL grants programme
  • potential national rollout of RAiSE programme pending evaluation

RM provided an update on work within the Higher Education and Science Division:

  • Science Centre funding announced for 2019/20 of £2.6m
  • Women in Science social media campaign completed and analysis underway
  • national STEM Engagement Campaign to be launched in next month

OG provided an updated on work within the Fair Work and Skills Division and flagged the important contribution of graduate apprenticeships with opportunities being increased from 900 to 1300 this year, most of which will be STEM related. The importance of the DYW regional groups and employer engagement with schools was highlighted.

LP outlined good progress in relation to actions and continued effort around the DYW programme which is in year five of a seven year programme and the pivotal role of colleges.  

RA confirmed that there are 21 regional DYW groups in place and that the recent National Advisory Board meeting had identified challenges around the pace of change and that the group felt that competing priorities and capacity in schools were holding back progress. It was advised that four KPIs for the groups had been agreed. In relation to developing and recognising skills in schools, it was flagged that there are a wide variety of options within the range of qualifications open to schools to recognise achievement.

Action:

  • LSh, working with OG and LP, to provide an update on progress with diversification of pathways and choices in schools under DYW at the next meeting.

There was discussion within the group about the delivery model for foundation apprenticeships and the level of flexibility and variance across the country which brought both challenges and benefits. The issue of parental attitudes to apprenticeships was also discussed.

There was also discussion around the need for a co-ordinated approach from officers within Education Scotland across the regions and schools, the need for digital solutions, and the need for consistent and good quality technician service across schools. There was a call for the development of a specification for what would constitute a good quality technician and technical support service for STEM learning in schools, recognising that these services were a local authority matter.

Action:    

  • SL/BM to consider with policy colleagues whether and how a specification for technical support services could be developed.

Risk register

SL provided an overview of the draft risk register which had been circulated to the group. It was advised that this has been drafted in line with the current Scottish Government corporate template and risks have been expressed positively, aligned as broader risks against the key themes and with specific action risks identified beneath each. It was flagged that for regular reporting, while the full risk register would be made available, a summary document would be provided flagging any emerging, escalating or substantial risks.

Members were content with the format presented. It was suggested that there appeared to be a focus on schools and early years and that consideration should be given to more current/immediate risks around people leaving the sector e.g. under the industry placements action.

Action:

  • SL to work with action officers to review the risk register in relation to scorings, controls and any additional items for inclusion, taking on board comments from the Implementation Group.

Key performance indicators

BM provided an overview of the paper on reviewing the Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) which had been circulated to the group.

Members discussed the limitations around available data and agreed that it would be helpful to have greater intersectional data available where possible. It was identified that the KPIs appeared to focus more on inputs rather than outcomes. The scope of the strategy was also discussed and how links were being made between the 18-24 learning under the strategy compared to adult re-skilling. It was agreed that options would be looked at around data in this area.

Action:

  • BM to consider with analytical colleagues what intersectional data can be provided in relation to KPIs and wider data relating to the STEM Strategy
  • BM to consider with analytical colleagues what data is available around adult re-skilling in STEM

IM informed the group that data on KPI Ig on Youth and Adult Awards had now been collated and was showing positive progress.

Links to other Scottish Government plans and strategies

SL provided an overview of the paper on links to wider initiatives which had been circulated to the Group and set out how the STEM strategy links with other Scottish Government plans and programmes relating to education and training, and workforce and skills development, highlighting cross-portfolio interests.

The group agreed that the paper was helpful in laying out the connections with the strategy.

A concern was raised in the meeting about the proposal to absorb numeracy and maths funding in the CLPL fund and the potential implications of losing this discrete funding.

Action:  

  • SL to flag concerns raised about the proposal to absorb numeracy and maths funding in the CLPL fund with relevant policy officials.

Any other business and date of next meeting

The Minister asked members for view on the meeting in terms of format and volume of paperwork and discussion was held around potential future agenda items.

Action:  

Members to provide any feedback on format of meetings, papers and potential agenda items by 15 May 2019.

The issue of EU exit and challenges for STEM was discussed and it was agreed that this was an area where impact needed to be monitored.  

The issue of benchmarking against other countries was also raised and members suggested that anecdotal evidence shows that Scotland differs from other countries, including the rest of the UK, with an integrated approach which provides a strong base. Caution was also advised in relation to comparison with other countries such as Scandinavia where despite much investment, hoped for equality improvements had not been made.

KE offered to bring an item of the foundation apprenticeships to a future meeting.

No other issues were raised during the meeting.

(Meeting close)

Summary of actions

Item Action Responsible Due date Progress status
1 Minutes of the fourth meeting of the Implementation Group to be published on the Scottish Government website SL 31 May 2019 Completed
2 LSh, working with OG and LP, to provide an update on progress with diversification of pathways and choices in schools under DYW at the next meeting LSh 4 September 2019 Verbal update to be provided at meeting on 4 September
3 SL/BM to consider with policy colleagues whether and how a specification for technical support services could be developed SL/BM 1 August 2019 Verbal update to be provided at meeting on 4 September
4 SL to work with action officers to review the risk register in relation to scorings, controls and any additional items for inclusion, taking on board comments from the Implementation Group SL 1 August 2019 Risk register updated and circulated with papers for meeting on 4 September
5 BM to consider with analytical colleagues what intersectional data can be provided in relation to KPIs and wider data relating to the STEM Strategy BM 1 August 2019 Being progressed as part of KPI review – update will be provided under item 5 at the meeting on 4 September
6 BM to consider with analytical colleagues what data is available around adult re-skilling in STEM BM 1 August 2019 Being progressed as part of KPI review – update will be provided under Item 5 at the meeting on 4 September
7 SL to flag concerns raised about the proposal to absorb numeracy and maths funding in the CLPL fund with relevant policy officials SL 15 April 2019 Completed
8 Members to provide any feedback on format of meetings, papers and potential agenda items All 31 May 2019 No feedback received