Publication - Report

Supporting Scotland's STEM Education and Culture - Science and Engineering Education Advisory Group - second report

Published: 28 Feb 2012
Learning Directorate
Part of:

Recommendations for improving the profile of science in the community and enhancing science and engineering education.

133 page PDF

416.2 kB

133 page PDF

416.2 kB

Supporting Scotland's STEM Education and Culture - Science and Engineering Education Advisory Group - second report

133 page PDF

416.2 kB


Continuing professional development for teachers


The Teachers Agreement (McCrone, 2001) [34] created an career-long commitment by teachers to maintain and develop professional expertise beyond their initial teacher education through a programme of continuing professional development ( CPD). It made provision for an additional contractual 35 hours of CPD per year in addition to that undertaken during the contractual 35 hours/week working agreement, to consist of a balance of personal professional development, attendance at nationally accredited courses, school-based activities and other CPD activity, taking account of individual needs, together with school, local and national priorities.

There are many forms and models for CPD. Within a school, it may include, for example, professional reading and research, lesson observation and analysis, subject-based activities and attendance at in-service days (Donaldson, p63) [12] . Within a subject context, it may serve many purposes, supporting subject knowledge and understanding, context, content, skills, pedagogy and assessment. A survey of CPD accessed by teachers in 2009-10 reported by Donaldson (p65) [12] shows an emphasis on internal personal or group development and local authority ( LA) courses, whereas current teacher priorities (Donaldson, p67) [12] emphasises improvement in (72%), sharing of (69%) and learning about (52%) new teaching practice, and increasing subject area knowledge (50%). This disparity may raise doubts about the perceived quality, relevance and balance of currently available professional development accessed by teachers. With respect to LA CPD provision, a significant number of newly qualified teachers reported that the quality of some CPD was low and did not always develop knowledge and understanding in subjects across the primary curriculum. Most teachers sought more subject-specific CPD.

Many practical challenges surround the development and delivery of relevant, high quality CPD that has a positive impact on learner achievement. These relate to the time allocated to and available for CPD; CPD provision and cost; additional professional development demands arising from implementation of CfE; engaging teachers who do not currently participate in externally provided CPD; the balance between different types of CPD; the role of LAs in CPD provision and co-ordination; the roles of local and national provision, the quality assurance of CPD and its impact on improving outcomes for learners; the role of ICT in professional development; the overall co-ordination of access to external CPD.

Research evidence

Teachers in successful education systems [21] are well supported in their ongoing professional development (e.g.100 hours/year in Singapore; one afternoon per week in Finland). Significant effects of professional development programmes for STEM teachers are seen when the programmes include a focus on content knowledge together with follow-up pedagogical training for total times of at least 50 hours/year [35] . One-off CPD sessions and programmes of less than 14 hours in total have no measurable effect on student learning, but programmes of between 30 and 100 hours over 6-12 months have a measurable positive impact on student outcomes [36] , indicating that 'sustained and intensive professional learning for teachers is related to student-achievement gains'. At the same time, 75% of Scottish teachers who responded to a survey for the Donaldson Review [12] reported that they were unable to undertake all their CPD and collegiate activities within the allotted time.

It is vital for STEM teacher development and stimulation that they are provided with, and enabled to access, opportunities for CPD throughout their careers. These opportunities should enable them to refresh and update their subject knowledge and pedagogical skills and thereby re-invigorate their teaching [25] .

Four factors are particularly important for effective CPD [37] :

  • Teachers have some control over their professional development, so that it meets their changing needs as their experience develops
  • Effective CPD requires the support of senior leaders and managers
  • Professional development must focus on learner needs and achievement
  • CPD is enhanced by external support and by networking with other schools, education authorities and universities

The content of CPD that improves student achievement is characterised by common features [38] :

  • CPD builds on, and from, what teachers already know
  • Teachers are encouraged to support each other
  • There is external input by sharing experience with other schools/teachers
  • There is a shift in 'ownership' from providers to teachers

The research evidence above sets high standards and criteria for STEM teacher support and professional development that exceed those currently widely practised in Scotland.

We note that the McCormac Review [ 16] recommended that the 35-hour CPD allowance should "not be viewed as a time limit" (recommendation 8) and strongly endorse that, but on the basis of the evidence above we consider that it is essential for science teachers to be formally committed to 50 hours per annum.

Recommendation 3.1
It is recommended that the Scottish Government ensures effective implementation of CfE by providing funding to support an increase in the time provision for CPD to 50 hours per year for all STEM teachers, and that primary teachers devote at least 15 hours per year to STEM CPD.

Appropriate CPD models for science and engineering

The Donaldson Report [12] , drawing on research by Kelly [39] , finds that CPD is most effective when it is 'site-based', fits within an existing school structure and ethos, addresses the needs of different groups of teachers, is peer-led, collaborative and sustained, and notes that such forms of CPD offer a richer learning experience than is usually offered in short courses. While noting that conclusions about effectiveness cannot easily be detached from the quality and availability of CPD, the type of CPD offered also needs to reflect and respond to the 50% of secondary teachers (and perhaps an equal or greater proportion of primary teachers) who call for CPD to improve their subject area knowledge and understanding. In addition, without external stimulus, the horizons of teachers will be far too narrow and diminished.

The Donaldson Report [12] does not make specific recommendations about subject-specific CPD, other than to identify science, languages and areas of mathematics as having a particular and priority need for improvement in teaching, learning and attainment in relation to national and international benchmarking. However, we believe that subject-based CPD is critical to professional development for teachers in the STEM area. STEM subjects have quite distinctive additional professional development needs from those of many other subject areas because:

  • Science and technology are in a constant state of rapid progress in their principles and practice, creating new applications and impacts in the real world.
  • A graduate STEM teacher cohort may become quickly out of touch with these new contexts and applications, which are encouraged by CfE.
  • Teachers in STEM subjects need to access opportunities to keep pace with recent major STEM developments - new 'big ideas', new thinking, new applications and new technologies.
  • Science and technology are practical disciplines that demand active, hands-on teaching and learning to communicate both subject knowledge and its applications in the workplace.
  • The CfE experiences and outcomes, and new STEM qualifications will reflect and contain much new content and rich new contexts for STEM learning and teaching.
  • The introduction of CfE brings with it a new focus on interdisciplinary learning and teaching, which will have particular relevance to STEM subjects.

These factors set particular demands on the nature and amount of professional development for science teachers that is required if young learners are to be enabled to grasp the principles, opportunities and relevance of science and technology in their lives. The balance of internal (peer-supported) and external CPD undertaken by science teachers should reflect these demands.

STEM CPD can be seen as simply about updating knowledge. CPD about pedagogy and subject knowledge are often seen as separate forms of provision. We disagree. STEM CPD should concern knowledge and understanding, pedagogy, skills, contexts and assessment in an integrated way, as well as enhancing (where possible) understanding of STEM careers in the form of real world exemplification. CPD is found to be most effective when its context, content and skills are delivered together with pedagogical development and training. The need for high quality science CPD to support implementation of CfE is widely recognised by teachers, learned and professional societies, industry, universities, education authorities and a wide range of stakeholders and organisations. This CPD should address the needs of the different sectors, for example the need to improve the competence and confidence in basic numeracy, mathematics and science of many primary teachers, issues of topical science and interdisciplinarity for secondary teachers, and assessment literacy for all teachers.

Recommendation 3.2
It is recommended that STEM CPD providers ensure CPD quality by embedding new relevant content and knowledge within appropriate contexts and with effective pedagogy and delivery, and engage teachers and pupils in active, hands-on investigative learning.

The CfE context

Previous educational initiatives and reforms such as Standard Grade and Higher Still were supported by centrally and co-operatively produced support packs for use by teachers. CfE endeavours to offer a more flexible, less prescriptive and more creative approach to teaching and learning by restoring teacher autonomy and creativity, and providing teachers with the freedom to deploy their professional skills more effectively. However, Scotland is rightly being very ambitious by international standards in developing CfE, and this ambition must be balanced against risk. Scotland does not yet have a teaching profession that is fully trained to deliver CfE, insofar as it has not been trained fully in curriculum design and assessment and also requires updating and extension in STEM subject knowledge and contexts. Therefore, the freedom and autonomy that is inherent in CfE must be supported in the long term by CPD that meets a wide spectrum of pedagogical and subject needs. The CfE outcomes and experiences and new science qualifications will contain much new content and new contexts; with these will come increasing and ongoing demands for subject support if CfE is to be creatively and successfully implemented.

Teachers are concerned about how they will access the new curriculum, who will take responsibility in helping them interpret what is expected, and where they will find the time to prepare new resources or modify existing resources. Teachers are also concerned about the pedagogical implications - the 'how' rather than simply the 'what'.

There is a balance to be struck between providing science teachers with sufficient resources to prevent them from having to 'reinvent the wheel' while allowing flexibility to adapt to local needs and building teacher capacity and skills. CfE has provided teachers with flexibility. This balance will change as teachers become more confident in interpreting and implementing CfE and in curriculum development.

CfE also provides increased autonomy for schools and teachers, within which both will have much greater ownership of the direction of teaching and learning. The implication of this is that schools and teachers will have an increasing influence on CPD strategy and development . Increased decentralisation and teacher autonomy have to be balanced against a need for some level of common experience and understanding, and the resources available to support that need. If widely available, CPD has the capacity to provide that continuity, common experience and understanding without requiring central control of the curriculum that would previously have been expected.

Within the context of increased decentralisation and autonomy, there is a critical need to articulate the ways in which teachers can become empowered to influence and drive change in a system that has been historically strongly centralised. In this respect, the need for good, clear leadership and articulation of strategy at all levels to communicate this message becomes paramount if schools and teachers are to have more direct influence on CPD strategy and content, and to ensure some level of common experience for learners.

A wider evaluation is required by teachers and CPD providers about the merits and limitations of different forms of CPD (e.g. in-house, whole-school, hubs/cluster, transition, residential, teacher-pupil (classroom), twilight, teacher learning communities) in delivering positive impacts on learners and teachers, cost effectiveness, and the continuity and common experience and understanding, whilst retaining scope for diversity and innovation.

Web-based support

A lot of attention and resource has been focused on virtual support environments for teacher support and professional development, yet there is a widely articulated plea from teachers for more good quality face-to-face CPD from across the teacher/provider spectrum for the practical reasons listed above. A teacher questionnaire (Donaldson, chart 5.4, p73 [12] ) identifies online provision as the least effective form of CPD, reflecting problems of quality, relevance and access.

More informal web-based resource-sharing mechanisms have suffered from issues including copyright, intellectual property rights and encouraging sufficient people to contribute. Whilst excellent in principle, many teachers feel that Glow suffers from having a user-unfriendly interface and poor internal structure that makes it difficult to find and share content. Glow is also not freely accessible to all involved in Scottish education. The cancellation of the Glow Futures procurement has been announced by the Scottish Government, and while Glow continues to play a part in Scottish education there are many cheaper ways of delivering online services to learners and teachers, linked to the rapidly falling price of educational hardware. Ultimately, it is the quality of teaching that determines what pupils learn, not the quality or availability of technology.

A rebalancing of effort and resource should therefore be given high priority. New web-based methods may have a particularly powerful capacity to support the evaluation of other forms of teacher CPD and provide ongoing feedback and support, promoting self-supported study, and thus ensuring the continuing use and impact of the material and resources. They also enable teachers in remote areas to access CPD and peer support that would otherwise not be readily available.

Recommendation 3.3
It is recommended that virtual learning environments are recognised as a support – and not as a substitute – for interactive, hands-on CPD.

Hands-on STEM CPD

There is little doubt that residential CPD and teacher CPD followed by classroom engagement with teachers and pupils are both extremely effective. In recent years high quality, two-part residential science CPD courses, some of which also involve additional activities between the residential elements, have been offered by SSERC, working in partnership with other organisations, to around 540 teachers and technicians annually. This CPD has been very well received by participants and external evaluators [40] . Other high quality CPD has been delivered from a wide range of providers but is often limited by issues such as lack of funding, long-term sustainability, reliance on volunteers or the lack of effective co-ordination.

School-delivered STEM CPD offers several potential advantages. It reaches the many hard-working and hard-pressed teachers who seldom, if ever, go to external courses in their own time, but who respond positively to quality CPD in their place of work and will ultimately make a telling contribution to the successful implementation of CfE. It provides the necessary external stimulus in introducing new ideas. Generic principles may be illustrated with subject-based or cross-disciplinary examples. It offers value for money insofar as it requires no cover cost for teacher time out of school, and no time or cost in travelling. Participating staff hear the same message, circumventing potential limitations of cascade models and enabling peer-support in its implementation. However, fewer teachers are reached in one CPD workshop.

Cascade models for delivery of external teacher CPD are widely criticised as being less effective than in-house and peer-led models. The impact of one-off courses or events, however stimulating, tends to dissipate on return to the realities of the classroom and cascading of guidance in contexts … do not allow real and sustained engagement on tasks which lead to impact on learners (Donaldson, p9 [12] ), because effective cascading depends on effective onward transmission of knowledge and understanding to local peers. Donaldson [12] asserts that the most powerful forms of development are local, collegiate, relevant and sustained but recognises that without some form of external stimulus, the horizons of groups of teachers may be too narrow. High quality STEM teachers are a key multiplier of good practice.

How can this circle be squared and the right balance achieved? How can the initial impacts of CPD be sustained, implemented and developed? The various different forms of CPD are not mutually exclusive; all may be used in their appropriate contexts and locations, providing a rich variety of support for teachers in collaboration with the essential national role of SSERC ( see recommendation 5.4). We believe that high quality STEM professional development delivered within the context of locally or regionally-based support structures such as professional learning communities ( PLCs), additional and complementary to that available nationally through SSERC, has the capacity to deliver the necessary balance of external stimulus and peer-support. Support structures for CPD delivery including PLCs will be considered below in Part 5.

CPD quality and evaluation

There are large inequalities in CPD provision and quality, geographically, across subject disciplines, and between primary and secondary sectors across Scotland. A large number of teachers do not participate in externally provided and externally delivered CPD. The quality of CPD experienced by teachers can be very variable, and many teachers are unconvinced of much of its value. CPD is only effective if it meets the needs of teachers and learners.

There is a lack of research evaluation about CPD provision, quality and impact on teachers and most importantly on learner achievement. CPD is usually evaluated (if at all) in terms of the quality of the provision (content, delivery and impact on teachers) rather than actual impact on the progress and achievement of learners (Donaldson, p70 [12] ). CPD providers will usually obtain participant evaluations of the effectiveness of their workshops in order both to guide their further development and improvement, and to address weaknesses. These evaluations help to justify the support of funders. However, only 29% of teachers responding to a survey (Donaldson, p70 [12] ) said that they try to monitor the impact of CPD, and only 22% said that their schools did this. 49% of teachers reported that they monitored impact infrequently or never, and 52% reported that their schools did this infrequently or never (Donaldson, p70 [12] ). It is essential to evaluate and quality-assure CPD in order to ensure that it is aligned with the outcomes and values of CfE and meets the needs of learners. Teachers and schools are best placed to undertake such monitoring and evaluation in partnership with CPD providers.

Recommendations 3.4
It is recommended that teachers and schools, in partnership with CPD providers and local authorities, should plan and evaluate CPD, taking into account its impact on young people's longer term progress and achievements.
This is consonant with recommendations 34 and 37 in the Donaldson Report.

Recommendation 3.5
It is recommended that the following should be subject to ongoing evaluation and feedback by Education Scotland in partnership with local authorities:

  • The strengths, weaknesses, impacts and costs of various models.
  • The quality and impact of externally provided CPD.
  • The role and impact of CPD in improving and updating pedagogy, improving assessment literacy, developing subject knowledge, increasing teacher confidence and its effect on pupil learning environment and experience.
  • How teachers themselves best respond to professional development (what works best for them, how they can best be supported, how they can contribute to the development of their colleagues).
  • How teachers can influence and engage with CPD development and strategy.

One existing route whereby teachers throughout the UK are required to maintain a significant CPD commitment with some requirement to evaluate its impact on their work is through Chartered status. This is currently available for science, mathematics and geography teachers through schemes operated by the appropriate professional bodies such as the Association of Science Education, the Association of Teachers of Mathematics and the Royal Geographical Society. Currently, Chartered status has a low uptake within the Scottish teacher workforce as there is little incentive or direct benefit to gaining Chartered status. Nonetheless, 39% of teachers responding to a survey for the Donaldson review said they would undertake more CPD if it was accredited. Accreditation through whatever route (e.g. universities, GTCS, professional associations, Quality Awards) would help to ensure CPD standards and quality. In 2000, the McCrone Report [34] called for teacher CPD to be accredited. The Donaldson Report [12] recommendation 44 recommends that a greater range of CPD undertaken by teachers should be formally accredited.

Recommendation 3.6
It is recommended that a greater range of CPD undertaken by teachers should be formally accredited.

Co-ordination of CPD

An over-riding impression of science CPD provision in Scotland that was widely recognised and discussed at the SEEAG Conference and at many meetings with stakeholder is one of lack of coherence and co-ordination in many areas, with resulting inefficiencies, duplication of effort and waste of scarce resources and goodwill. This is the complex landscape of activity and support in science education and engagement that is perceived by a wide range of stakeholders, particularly by teachers and providers. A clear strategy for development and delivery of CPD is essential if stakeholders are to make sense of this complex landscape. For a small country such as Scotland whose strength should be in co-ordination and working partnerships at local, regional and national level, this complexity is unnecessary and unacceptable.

The first step in co-ordinating STEM CPD nationally is to map current CPD provision and other forms of professional support, including contributions from industry, as a starting point to ensuring a more coherent, relevant and appropriate CPD provision and quality across all areas of science that provides common experience and understanding .

Local authorities and university education faculties now have fewer staff available for co-ordination, development and delivery of subject-based CPD than for previous education reforms. In most local authorities in Scotland there is no longer an Adviser specifically for the sciences or for technology, but there may be a Quality Improvement Officer ( QIO) with some responsibility for the sciences and/or technology. Much local authority and school-based CPD, whilst large in scale, can often be generic rather than subject-specific, addressing learning and teaching approaches, assessment strategies and quality assurance, and often fails to meet the needs of subject teachers. However, some authorities also sustain subject networks for teachers that increasingly include clusters comprising secondary schools and their associated primary schools working in partnership to develop coherent approaches to transition over the P6 to S2 stage range. In addition, SSERC offers a range of high quality 'hands on' practical CPD in partnership with local authorities and other bodies. Furthermore, STEM specialists in mainstream science and engineering departments in universities play an increasing role in supporting, developing and delivering CPD, encouraged by the increased recognition and funding given by research councils (through research grants) and universities to STEM education and engagement.

There is much good, innovative professional development going on that is by nature opportunistic, and dependent on enthusiasm, creativity and small amounts of funding. This is to be encouraged, but needs to be recognised, co-ordinated, mapped and sustained to clarify the landscape. This is more likely to happen where for example professional societies, educators and industry are able to provide funding and expertise, especially where they work together. By contrast there are many areas of STEM where support is particularly needed to develop and update teacher knowledge, skills and confidence, but where support is inadequate or lacking. This is more likely to be the case in interdisciplinary areas where knowledge is commonly developing rapidly. Interdisciplinary science teaching and its links to other curriculum areas will require particular support to ensure changes in classroom culture and practice and to provide the additional subject knowledge and skills necessary to build the bridges between the traditional STEM subjects and other curriculum areas. University science and engineering departments together with industry may be able to provide effective support to achieve this goal.

With the reduction in local authority capacity and the development of a more autonomous system, there are opportunities for teachers to create or further develop their own support and co-ordination networks. The opportunity for network building is a key strength and capacity of hands-on face-to-face CPD. Effective network-building across groups of schools may be extended by local or regional alliances involving schools, colleges, Initial Teacher Education faculties, universities, professional bodies and education authorities. This is one of several capacities that may be built or formalised to good effect around existing links and programmes (support structures are discussed in detail in Part 5).

Scottish Education has no single representative body responsible for co-ordination, provision, quality, evaluation and funding of CPD. Teachers require easily accessible, user-friendly ways of being made aware of available, relevant and quality-assured CPD, and of ways of sharing resources. STEM-Central [41] and CPDFind [42] are welcome developments providing additional information and resources for teachers; however, STEM-Central is currently very engineering focused. The following additional recommendations about CPD arising from the work of the Scottish Science Advisory Council ( SSAC) reported to SEEAG [17] resonate well with the work and conclusions of SEEAG:

Recommendation 3.7
It is recommended that Education Scotland continues to expand the focus of STEM-Central and for STEM-Central to become the entry portal for teachers to Education Scotland STEM materials.

This is in agreement with the SSAC Report Recommendation 7 [17] (see also recommendation 6.1 of this report).

SSAC (recommendation 3) [17] consider that CPD Find should be developed further to include the full range of science-related CPD opportunities available (including those available via industry) and more actively promoted to teachers as the one-stop shop to find CPD. There is currently a function to 'endorse' certain courses and consideration could be given to expanding this function to provide 'quality marking' for others considering undertaking the CPD.

Recommendation 3.8
It is recommended that Education Scotland should develop CPDFind to make it more user friendly for both CPD providers and for teachers. It should be easy to post and retrieve information about CPD events.

The role of industry

Industry plays an important role in supporting the professional development of teachers in STEM subjects, committing funding, ideas and materials. Industry is rightly concerned about the longer-term supply of skilled and well qualified graduates to meet its recruitment needs ( see part 7). The range and variety of ways that industry engages with schools in relation to subject breadth, level, geographical coverage and methods of delivery further contributes to an apparently complex, crowded and uncoordinated landscape for teachers and schools. Some support and materials are delivered directly into the classroom, while some industries work in partnership with educators and schools to support delivery of CPD to teachers or work in classrooms. This lack of co-ordination has been highlighted above in the context of STEM CPD provision. There is no readily accessible central recording of the breadth of existing industry support activity and no evaluation of what constitutes good practice in school/industry/academia liaison and support.

SSAC consider that there should be a greater role for industry and academia in developing and contributing to science-specific CPD for science teachers. It is as vital to industry as to STEM education to ensure that the resources, goodwill and expertise of industry are used to maximum effect in supporting the implementation of CfE.

Recommendation 3.9
It is recommended that industry, universities and colleges work collaboratively with CPD providers and other partners to ensure the evaluated quality, relevance, appropriateness and longer term impact on learners of the support they provide. Partnership working between industry and CPD providers should be strongly encouraged rather than directly with schools.

The SSAC consider that it would be valuable to capture and map the breadth of existing schools engagement with industry, colleges, universities and other STEM providers now and on an ongoing basis.

SSAC co-ordinators

STEM CPD provision in Scotland requires some level of overall direction and co-ordination within the new decentralised system that is evolving through current educational reform, at least to the extent of establishing strategic priorities, ensuring quality and breadth of provision, and delivering some level of common and widely available experience and understanding.

To achieve these aims, the SSAC has worked with the Deans of Science and Engineering in Scotland, Scottish Government, SSERC, STEM-Ed Scotland, CBI Scotland and SEMTA to address this co-ordination challenge. They strongly recommend the creation of Industry/Academia Schools Liaison Co-ordinator for Sciences posts , whose role they propose should be:

  • To act as central co-ordinators for science-related schools activities, including CPD for science teachers and schools science engagement activity, which provide support for science teachers and schools as they implement new science courses under the CfE.
    To act as a central liaison to facilitate good practice engagement between schools, universities and industry to widen pupil experience and teaching in support of the new CfE.

Funding is being made available to implement this plan.

Whilst welcoming this initiative in principle, SEEAG has some comments and constructive proposals regarding the location (hosting), duration, tasks and scope of the co-ordinator post(s) if the required impact is to be achieved:

The specified range of tasks involves mapping, evaluating and co-ordinating current activities, developing and disseminating a range of exemplar materials using a variety of resources for use by teachers, creating interdisciplinary linkages across the life, physical and engineering sciences. The varied practical experience of SEEAG members leads the group to consider this range of tasks to be over-ambitious relative to the funded time available, and some prioritisation is likely to be necessary. For instance, while exemplification is an important deliverable, it is in itself very time consuming and requires particular subject expertise. The tasks of the co-ordinator should be carefully prioritised on realistically attainable goals.

To function effectively, the co-ordinators need to develop a strategic overview of a wide range of CPD and science engagement activities and organisations across Scotland, to be recognised and included yet remain independent. Whilst the co-ordinators might be based in a key stakeholder organisation engaged in CPD development and delivery in order to function effectively, the location should be chosen with particular care to ensure the capacity to operate independently of any one organisation and engage widely.

Unless the appointee(s) have broad and deep knowledge of the complex CPD and science engagement landscape, they will take a period of months to become sufficiently familiar with this complex landscape to make an impact. Yet this landscape is constantly evolving and is poorly mapped. The work will require ongoing and long-term engagement.

The co-ordinators should not duplicate but rather empower and enhance the work of existing providers and organisations also working to achieve better co-ordination of their STEM support work. The establishment of effective working partnerships will itself help to achieve shared goals more effectively.

In order to maximise impact and ensure independence and impartiality, it would make sense for the co-ordinators to work and liaise with a support group of providers and stakeholders, with broad representation from industry, higher education and a range of support organisation across CPD and schools engagement, especially including SSERC, local authorities, relevant professional associations, and CPD providers.

Cost of CPD

The cost of CPD is a major issue. School CPD budgets are very limited and teacher attendance at externally delivered CPD is often low. Universities and science centres have suitable venues but without external funding they cannot deliver CPD that schools or individual teachers can easily afford. Professional bodies have co-ordinated appropriate low-cost subject-specific CPD but this has relied on these bodies obtaining venues for little or no cost (which is becoming more difficult) and on the time and effort of volunteers.

Not all subjects are supported by well-resourced professional societies. CPD in cross-curricular and interdisciplinary areas of science encouraged in CfE tends to be less well supported and developed than that in the basic sciences where the resources of large professional associations and industry may be brought to bear. CPD providers should be encouraged to co-operate to find ways to deliver effective subject and cross-curricular CPD at a cost affordable by schools and teachers.

Financial and material support from Government, local authorities and non-governmental sources such as industry, universities and learned societies for development and delivery should be better co-ordinated to ensure quality, transparency and cost effectiveness. It should be established on a long term basis so that teachers and schools can confidently engage in a reliable and sustained manner.

For the effective implementation of CfE and future educational developments a significant upscaling of the quantity of the best STEM CPD is required in Scotland. This will require additional resource and co-ordinated CPD delivery through SSERC and other providers to deliver on the scale required. Without such investment Scotland's STEM education will certainly not improve and may well deteriorate.