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Publication - Consultation Paper

Science, technology, engineering and mathematics – consultation on a strategy for education and training

Published: 8 Nov 2016
Part of:
Business, industry and innovation, Education

A consultation on a draft Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) education and training strategy for Scotland.

44 page PDF


44 page PDF


Science, technology, engineering and mathematics – consultation on a strategy for education and training
Priority Themes and Associated Actions

44 page PDF


Priority Themes and Associated Actions


We propose ensuring excellence by raising the levels of STEM skills and knowledge (including numeracy and digital skills) throughout education and training experiences.

The Scottish Government and Education Scotland will:

  • Improve the pipeline of STEM teachers into secondary schools, both through building on the success of last year's recruitment campaign to attract STEM graduates into teaching, and through the work that initial teacher education institutions are doing to develop new and innovative routes into teaching.
  • Evaluate information on initial teacher education programmes' coverage of numeracy, and other STEM content where available, in order to help us to understand how well prepared student teachers are to teach numeracy and STEM.
  • Consider relevant minimum entry requirements to initial teacher education programmes, to feed in to the General Teaching Council Scotland's review of entry requirements.
  • Develop a programme of new and enhanced career-long professional learning for practitioners, with a focus on early learning and primary school through strengthened partnerships and collaboration across the education and training system.
  • Publish by the end of 2016 draft expected benchmarks for STEM subjects for each level of Curriculum for Excellence. This will allow teachers to ensure their learners are on track.
  • Identify, with universities, new opportunities for increasing promotion and uptake of formally accredited SCQF level 11 (often referred to as 'Masters' level learning) courses in STEM subjects and teaching approaches for teachers.
  • Deliver the Making Maths Count Report recommendations to improve confidence and fluency in maths for children, young people, their families and adult learners, including working with Learning Link Scotland and other partners to establish a numeracy network with a focus on improving number skills for adults as workers and parents.

The Scottish Government, Education Scotland and Skills Development Scotland will:

  • Establish a Digital Schools Programme to test innovative approaches to digital skills development in school clusters.
  • Expand Modern Apprenticeships, providing 30,000 new starts each year by 2020, focusing on higher level and STEM opportunities.
  • Enable S4, S5 and S6 pupils to undertake high quality, STEM work-based pathways including Foundation Apprenticeships, in partnership with schools and local employers.
  • Expand the Making Maths Count recommendation to develop an action plan for improving maths for employment to STEM skills and capability more broadly, working with schools, colleges, employers, and community learning and development.

The Scottish Funding Council will:

  • Support colleges to prioritise STEM subjects in developing new senior phase vocational pathways with local authorities in response to the needs of local labour markets.
  • Ask college regions from 2017-18 to provide detail of the level and scope of employer engagement within STEM curriculum areas and outline how this engagement impacts on student experience and employability.
  • Use the 2017-18 Outcome Agreement process to support colleges and universities in delivering the aims of this Strategy through ensuring coordinated and impactful STEM provision.

Education Scotland and Skills Development Scotland will:

  • Support the Energy Skills Partnership to increase the skills development and knowledge of college lecturers to deliver high quality STEM learning at all levels, with a specific focus on improving engineering and energy-related STEM teaching and learning.


We propose ensuring equity by taking action to reduce equity gaps, particularly in relation to deprivation and gender.

The Scottish Government and Education Scotland will:

  • Review the impact and effectiveness of numeracy and STEM related activity funded through the Attainment Scotland Fund, in order to help inform future decisions by schools and local authorities on their use of the funding.
  • Conduct a STEM-focused review to share what we know and have learned about effective practice to reduce the poverty-related attainment gap.
  • Use the data and evidence gathered through the National Improvement Framework to inform policy development on numeracy and target intervention accordingly.
  • Extend the Read, Write, Count campaign, that supports parents to continue learning outside of school, into P4-P7 in areas of high deprivation from April 2017.
  • Work together with national and local partners to take action to address gender bias in young people's career options, including raising awareness of gender bias with parents, families and teachers so that they can better promote the importance of STEM skills for career options with young people.
  • Explore how to generate innovative ways to engage disadvantaged adults in the STEM agenda through community learning and development.

The Scottish Government and Skills Development Scotland will:

  • Expand the successful Improving Gender Balance in STEM Project, and share learning through Education Scotland's National Improvement Hub, My World of Work, Careers Information Advice and Guidance advisers and EQUATE Scotland.
  • Work with schools and employers to prevent bias on career choice, and encourage more diverse subject choices in order to meet the participation improvement targets set out in the Modern Apprenticeship Equality Action Plan for women, minority ethnic communities, care leavers and disabled people.

The Scottish Government will:

  • Fund activity to increase participation of women in STEM careers, including through the recently announced EQUATE Scotland Women Returners initiative.

The Scottish Funding Council will:

  • Implement the Gender Action Plan published in August 2016, and ask all institutions to develop their own Gender Action Plans using the Outcome Agreement process to monitor progress on this annually.
  • Use the Outcome Agreement process to further widen access to college places for those from the most deprived areas, including for STEM courses, building on the progress made to date.
  • Support the Equality Challenge Unit to work with colleges and universities to increase the participation of under-represented equality groups, including in STEM courses.
  • Work with universities to look at the feasibility of developing programmes to support school pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds to study STEM subjects in higher education. Similar programmes already exist to support access to high demand professions e.g. the REACH programme. Reach is a national initiative coordinated by universities and schools that supports disadvantaged young people across Scotland to access 'high demand' professions such as dentistry, law and medicine. It achieves this by providing mentoring, intensive support with applications and facilitating work experience opportunities. The programme is also academically rigorous with some universities rewarding completion with adjusted entry grades.


We propose ensuring inspiration by enthusing young people and adults to study STEM and to continue their studies to obtain higher order skills.

The Scottish Government and Education Scotland will:

  • Support the Science Centres and Festivals to provide children and young people, their families and the wider public, opportunities to engage with and be inspired by STEM.
  • Maximise the impact of our science engagement activity to direct support to hard to reach individuals, groups and communities in deprived, rural and remote areas.
  • Ensure an enhanced focus on numeracy in the Read, Write, Count campaign.
  • Expand the Making Maths Count recommendation for raising the profile, relevance and attractiveness of mathematics to STEM education and employment more broadly.
  • Champion STEM through our new Chief Scientific Adviser, Professor Sheila Rowan, in her programme of visits to schools, colleges and universities, and public events. Professor Rowan will help inspire our young people by showing the opportunities offered by a career in STEM, and will engage with people of all ages to explain the relevance of STEM to our lives.
  • Use the Career Education Standard (3-18) [10] and Work Placements Standard (senior phase) [11] to embed STEM careers awareness within STEM learning, teaching, courses and training programmes. This will be part of the enhanced career long professional learning offer to teachers, recognising the crucial role that teachers have in inspiring and enthusing young people about STEM.

The Scottish Government and Skills Development Scotland will:

  • Continue to expand My World of Work Live and our Digital World Marketing campaign to enhance promotion of STEM career opportunities and the range of learning pathways into STEM careers.


We propose ensuring connection by matching the STEM education and training offer to labour market need in the short, medium and long term.

The Scottish Government and Education Scotland will:

  • Encourage schools to make more effective use of labour market information and their links with employers to design and deliver the STEM curriculum in their schools.
  • Work with the DYW Regional Groups to encourage effective STEM employer-school partnerships.
  • Disseminate information to community learning and development practitioners around STEM to raise awareness and build into community programmes.

The Scottish Government and Skills Development Scotland will:

  • Roll out 'Marketplace', the digital matching platform developed by Skills Development Scotland and the Developing the Young Workforce Edinburgh and Lothian regional group to facilitate better engagement between education and employers.
  • Ensure that careers information and guidance delivered in schools highlights the full range of STEM qualifications that are available and highlights the full range of careers that STEM skills and knowledge can open up for young people.
  • Develop an enhanced and robust evidence base on the current and future demand for STEM skills in conjunction with industry, and on the supply and outcomes of STEM provision with skills, education and training bodies in order to inform strategic action across Government and its agencies.
  • Promote new pathways into STEM careers, particularly in high growth areas such as the digital technologies sector. This will include the continued expansion of the range of STEM pathways that can begin in school through Foundation Apprenticeships.

The Scottish Funding Council and Skills Development Scotland will:

  • Support the development and implementation of the Digital Skills Partnership between colleges, universities and digital employers.

Consultation Questions - Proposed Actions

9. Overall, do you think this Strategy is clear and action focused? Do you think that the actions that we propose to take nationally will achieve the aims and intended outcomes?

10. Will this Strategy improve equity of outcomes? If not, tell us what else it should include, in particular for women and girls and other groups of people - disabled people, care leavers and minority ethnic communities.

11. What could schools, colleges, universities, community learning and development, the voluntary sector, science engagement providers and museums do to support the areas for action?

12. What could professional organisations and bodies and third sector organisations do to support the areas for action? This includes, in particular, the General Teaching Council for Scotland, the Standards Council for Community Learning and Development for Scotland, the teaching unions and representatives and the Learned Societies.

13. What more could science centres and festivals do to complement and enhance STEM formal education, to inspire scientists of the future, and to ensure their activities support those of the Scottish Government and its agencies?

14. Should this Strategy identify more actions for particular sectors, for example in relation to workplace and work-based training and development? Please make suggestions on what these actions could be.


In addition, the Scottish Government will take the following action that will support all
four themes:

  • Work with schools to help them improve STEM learning and teaching activity in early learning settings, schools and clusters by connecting with further and higher education providers and employers. We will publish a National STEM Improvement Framework for schools that provides a clear and simple approach to achieving this. A draft of the Framework is provided at Annex B.

Consultation Question - STEM Improvement Framework

15. Tell us what you think about this Improvement Framework. How can we
best ensure uptake of this Framework in early years learning settings, schools and clusters?

  • Develop a model of collaboration between schools, colleges, universities and employers to support cluster working, the development of excellent teaching approaches and professional learning, and promotes skills and resource sharing. This will learn from and build on existing centre and hub-type arrangements and international practice, for example the LUMA centres in Finland.

Consultation Question - Collaboration

16. Tell us what you think of our proposal for developing a model of collaboration between schools, colleges, universities and employers. How should we now take this forward?

  • Ensure that, by 2020, every school has the opportunity to develop a meaningful and sustainable partnership with the public, private or third sector, to help them improve STEM teaching and learning and inspire young people into STEM careers. We will do this through a Scottish STEM ambassador network which will be in addition to the current STEM ambassador programme in Scotland. It would include partnerships with high profile individuals, employers in the private, public and/or third sector and the promotion of models of peer to peer mentoring and support. We will draw on and build on the programmes that are already in place to bring inspirational role models into schools, for example, the Modern Apprenticeships Ambassador programme and local peer-to-peer mentoring initiatives.

Consultation Question - STEM Ambassadors

17. Tell us what you think of our proposals for a Scottish STEM ambassador network. How should we now take that forward?