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Publication - Report

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

Published: 28 Feb 2012
Part of:

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

133 page PDF


133 page PDF


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

133 page PDF



The issues and proposals raised in this report so far are set in our cultural environment; a Scottish culture that supports and encourages a deeper and stronger engagement with science and technology as easily as it does with, for instance, music or film, will make the attainment of the specific objectives easier whilst aiding the full expression of our creativity.

In consequence, SEEAG was asked to give consideration to how the wider cultural environment and the image of science and technology, nationally and internationally, can be strengthened and improved.

Public science engagement

The early model of 'one-way (or "deficit") communication' and education (for example, through presentations to audiences or distributing facts and information) has given way to a new model of 'two-way dialogue' in which scientists and others also listened to, and acted upon, the public's views, generating new or improved knowledge. Thus, over time, there has been a shift from public understanding of science to public science engagement, and it has become clear that these are not the same. The National Coordinating Centre for Public Engagement suggests that public engagement "generates mutual benefit, with all parties learning from each other through sharing knowledge, expertise and skills. In the process, it can build trust, understanding and collaboration, and increases the sectors relevance to, and impact on, civil society".

Science is inseparable from society and public science engagement can have a wide range of benefits individually and socially. These may include:

  • better understanding of science and tackling perceptions and misunderstandings
  • informed personal lifestyle choices and contributing to social and environmental challenges
  • promoting skills and learning throughout life
  • raising societal awareness of the strength of science done in Scotland
  • creating a society that has an understanding of new technology and scientific advance
  • increasing trust in the science process and promoting societal empowerment and involvement in the development of science-oriented policy
  • promoting science as an integral part of culture - of equal importance to the arts and humanities.

Current public attitudes to science

The most comprehensive and recent survey of current views is the Public Attitudes to Science (2011) Report [98] . This builds on previous research and provides further evidence that the UK public values science and is interested in finding more out about it:

  • four-fifths (79%) agree that, "on the whole, science will make our lives easier" while just over half (54%) agree that "the benefits of science are greater than any harmful effect"
  • four-fifths (82%) agree that "science is such a big part of our lives that we should all take an interest" and two-thirds (67%) think " it is important to know about science in my daily life"
  • there is an appetite for hearing more about science, with half (51%) saying they hear and see too little information about science.

However, alongside these more positive highlights, there remain concerns about what scientists do 'behind closed doors', and the extent to which they consider the wider consequences of their work. More generally, the speed of development in science and the ethical dimensions of 'science going against nature' still worry many people. The extent of these concerns is topic dependent, with the survey indicating that, among the various topics explored, GM crops, nuclear power and animal experimentation are currently particularly contentious.

In addition, the research also highlights the challenge of public engagement with science. More people (56%) say they do not feel informed about science, and scientific research and developments than those who do (43%). In addition, while many are keen for the public to be involved in decision-making on science issues, most do not want to be personally involved.

Finally, a recent literature review [99] found evidence for the influence of childhood experiences on adult attitudes and interests around science and the arts, thereby reinforcing the need for public science engagement initiatives to reach young people through school or college or through engaging with parents and other family groups.

Platforms for Public Science Engagement

Current provision for public science engagement

The public science engagement sector in Scotland is complex, involving many institutions (public, private and charitable) and individuals (scientists, technologists and others) in its funding and delivery. Each of these pursues its own audiences with its own aims, purposes and motivations which may complement or overlap with those of others. In addition, there is a range of publics, each with its own interests, in part defined by geography, ethnicity, age or socio-economic parameters or by 'ease of reach'. Finally, public science engagement may take place within a number of locations.

This complexity presents both challenges and opportunities for the future of public science engagement in Scotland. In 2010, the Scottish Government Office of the Chief Scientific Adviser ( OCSA) undertook a non-exhaustive review (unpublished) of Scotland's informal science landscape. Many of the science engagement activities (for example, the Scottish science centres and festivals) reach children and young people of school/college age as well as adults while others focus on one or the other.

A number of these activities are funded by the Scottish Government and its associated agencies, authorities and Non Departmental Public Bodies ( NDPBs), in pursuit of its science education and engagement goals. A number are funded by other organisations including: local authorities; business and industry; academia, the research councils and associated bodies; research institutes; professional bodies and institutes/institutions; trusts, endowments and other private and public benefactors; museums, zoos and gardens; and so on. The complexity of the sector illustrates the richness and variety of our scientific culture.

The opportunities in which the public can take part in science related activities may be viewed as 'platforms' for achieving public science engagement. Their role in relation to students, teachers and schools is dealt with in Part 6 of this report, while this section considers their role in relation to the general public of all ages.

Scottish science centres

Scotland has four science centres - Glasgow Science Centre, Dundee Science Centre, Our Dynamic Earth (Edinburgh) and Satrosphere (Aberdeen). All represent considerable investment from the public purse and provide a visible and physical, year-round focus and resource for public science engagement in each of the cities in which they are located. The scale, focus and content of each centre is different but common elements in their strategic visions include exciting and inspiring visitors of all ages with high quality science engagement experiences and demonstrating science and technology's importance and relevance to everyday life.

All of the centres offer a wide range of activities that may be grouped into two channels:

  • 'in-reach': taking place within the centre (including permanent and temporary exhibitions, shows, events and educational programmes); in 2010-11, the four centres collectively attracted 593,500 visitors of which 73% were public visitors (adults/family) and 27% were education visits (schools and colleges)
  • 'outreach': taking place outside the centre (including in community and other public venues, road shows, school events and satellite centres); in 2010-11, the four centres collectively reached 108,600 people of which 64% were public audiences and 36% were education audiences.

Recommendation 8.1
The outreach role of the science centres is as important as their in-reach role and the annual figures on outreach activity should be used to agree annual objectives between the centres and the Scottish Government.

In terms of visitor numbers alone, the centres are clearly an important public science engagement platform in Scotland. Visitor and omnibus surveys [100],[101],[102] conducted in 2008-10 revealed that while visitor profile, extent of outcomes delivered and level of satisfaction varied between centres, the overall picture across the four centres was of family-friendly venues delivering significant outcomes around science.

However, these surveys also highlighted some challenges in terms of equality of access to the centres, with social groups C2 DE, ethnic minorities and disabled groups, and rural/remote communities less likely to be aware of and/or visit the centres. Transport subsidy funding provided to the centres by OCSA is intended to help address this to some extent by supporting visits for community groups from remote, socially and/or economically disadvantaged communities, but success in reaching these audiences has been mixed across the centres.

The centres have also increasingly attracted greater proportions of overseas visitors - particularly the centres in Edinburgh and Glasgow - indicating that they have gained ground in the attractions market. All the centres retain top level Visit Scotland ratings. This is worth noting in the context of Part 9 regarding Scotland's international reputation on science but it reinforces the issue of penetration of the Scottish domiciled population.

Scottish science festivals

Science festivals provide short, concentrated bursts of public science engagement which engage the public with a wide range of science and technology in an interactive and enjoyable manner. The concept of science festivals was invented and developed in Scotland by the Edinburgh International Science Festival ( EISF) and has been copied all over the world.

Although some science festivals are more international in their profile (for example, the EISF), most generally have a local or regional feel, and are often established where there is local expertise or demand for public science engagement or where an enthusiastic interest group takes the lead. They give audiences a chance to discover science being done on their doorstep and further afield and can contribute to local, regional and/or civic pride. Depending on programming arrangements, they can reflect or promote local priorities or interests (e.g. engineering, biosciences or renewable energy). One of their great strengths is that they view attendees as participants rather than visitors or customers where the outcome of an event is partly the result of their own input.

Their lack of a permanent physical base allows festivals to be highly flexible and means that they can take place in parts of Scotland that may be distant from, or not have local access to, other opportunities for public science engagement such as a science centre or university outreach programme.

There are 17 science festivals across Scotland - a large number per head of population and comparing favourably to elsewhere in the UK. The Scottish festivals vary widely in ambition, scale and audience emphasis (young people or adults), collectively attracting 167,000 people in 2010-11 ranging from 70,000+ audiences at the largest festival to 1,500 at the smallest.

The 'bottom up', flexible format of the festivals allows them to be particularly responsive both in form and content to developments in science and technology and the social issues they raise. Along with other public science engagement platforms, the network of science festivals across Scotland provides a national vehicle to engage the public in debate on key scientific issues, thereby preparing fertile ground for more active and informed citizenship.

The combined provision of science centres and festivals in Scotland, clearly by far the best national provision within the British Isles and, anecdotally, within the world, provides a rich, responsive and vital part of our nation's education and culture. The initiative for most of them came from the bottom up but without the substantial and sustained support by the Scottish Government they would not be as successful.

Recommendation 8.2
The Scottish Government's support for science centres and science festivals is essential and effective and it is recommended that financial and other support should continue to be provide so that the centres and festivals may fulfil their valuable roles.

Discussions, talks, lectures and hands-on science

A number of organisations deliver public discussions, talks and lectures in a number of formats to a variety of audiences, and provide the public with the opportunity to meet and hear from practising scientists and to engage in debate on key scientific issues. This platform includes:

  • Cafés Scientifiques (presentation-and-dialogue events to a non-specialist audience in non-threatening venues such as bookshops or theatres)
  • the Royal Society of Edinburgh's series of lectures, debates and conferences on topical issues drawing on the expertise and knowledge of its Fellowship and other eminent scientists and researchers
  • events organised by universities, many of which are around science, often in partnership with other science-based organisations such as science centres, festivals and research institutes; this agenda is largely driven by the UK research councils and Scottish Funding Council
  • 'Citizen Science' programmes which involve adults and family groups in doing hands-on science - monitoring and recording of environmental or conservation targets and parameters - are run by a number of organisations including non-departmental public bodies (e.g. Scottish Environmental Protection Agency ( SEPA), Scottish Natural Heritage ( SNH) and conservation NGOs (e.g. Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, RSPB)
  • initiatives delivered by a range of Government and publicly funded agencies, non-departmental public bodies and other research organisations, often in partnership with other organisations and platforms, usually in the context of particular strategic drivers (e.g. the Knowledge Transfer/Exchange strategy developed by Scottish Government's Main Research Providers [103] ).

The landscape is extraordinarily diverse in this area and co-ordination and
co-operation are a significant challenge. There is clearly an opportunity to improve alignment within this area and all platforms should consider if
co-operation with others will extend the range and depth of their reach.

Museums, libraries and visitor attractions

A number of institutions and visitor attractions deliver a range of public engagement, much (though not all) of it around science. These platforms benefit from being attractive to a broad cross-section of the public as they are seen as familiar, non-threatening, enjoyable family-oriented attractions that present their activities in ways that are not only educational and interesting but can be engaging and fun. Many also have their own formal education programmes that are referred to in Part 6. This platform includes:

  • museums, libraries and galleries - national and local - provide opportunities to explore aspects of science and technology by offering experiences and activities utilising their collections and research activities; they also provide relevant venues for other organisations to deliver public science engagement activities
  • zoos and conservation, rural, marine and environmental science organisations; examples include the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland (Edinburgh Zoo), the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, the Scottish Seabird Centre, Deep Sea World and other marine/sea life centres and visitor centres at national and local nature reserves, National Parks, Forestry Commission sites and nature reserves.

Much of the public science engagement taking place in this area may not be explicitly presented as such to visitors. Science may be one element of a wider 'cultural' focus, so the impact of science linked to artefacts or collections may not be as strong as in a more focussed science centre, for example. This may be both a help (in that there is an opportunity to present science in a full context to parts of society that may otherwise be difficult to engage) and a hindrance (in that an opportunity is lost to illustrate to people that what they are learning about is science, and is part of their wider culture).

Cross-cutting issues applicable across platforms

Consideration of the above platforms highlighted a number of strengths and challenges, many of which are generic or cross-cutting in nature and apply to more than one of the platforms.

Structural issues

Although there are examples of good practice in Scotland, views received during the stakeholder consultation for this report [81] suggest that there is arguably too much competition, territoriality and duplication of effort and activity in some areas. The vigour and width of public science engagement is a great strength of Scottish life but whether funding derives from the public or private sector a more efficient application of available resources towards agreed and shared visions and goals with a wider geographical and social reach should be sought.

All funders of public science engagement may seek to drive increased partnerships or thematic focus through positive conditions of funding and this may continue to be one of the most effective levers. However, alongside this there is a need for a behavioural change in some parts of the sector and a need for all delivery organisations to move away from the rivalry and competition (highlighted by the SE21 AP consultation process) and to embrace a spirit of co-operation and collaboration and recognise the wider benefits and greater good that may accrue from collective action. Research Councils and industry can play an important role in this and should be actively encouraged to develop long term partnerships with existing science engagement platforms.


The issue of quality in public science engagement has been repeatedly raised during consultations. Use of this term can be confusing unless the aim and context are made explicitly clear, as quality can relate to a number of aspects of public science engagement. For example, it may be used to relate to the quality of the science engagement activities themselves, the processes used to develop them, the approach(es) used to engage the public, the impact on the public, individual science communicators, or visitor facilities at venues etc. Clarity is needed therefore when calling for the development of measures of quality about exactly what is being assessed or judged.

To optimise the overall experience, impact and longer-term legacy on the recipient, all aspects of quality - background process and final product - need to be right, working well and properly aligned. Quality assessment and evaluation tools should be sensible, usable, appropriate, light-touch, reflective, quantitative and qualitative, and based on sound social science, consider people, processes and products, and incorporate feedback to enable responsive change.

Over the past few years the concept of quality and impact in relation to a number of publicly funded platforms has been reviewed. Some examples are: HMIEs review of the Scottish science centres' schools programmes in 2007 [104] and follow-up in 2009 [105] ; the Evaluation Framework (based on a Results Chain logic model) developed for capturing a number of aspects of quality of experience and impact on those visiting the Scottish science centres; and OCSA's commissioned review of Generation Science - the primary school outreach initiative of the EISF - which generated guidelines that are now provided as a condition of grant in relation to a number of OCSA's other funding streams.

These have been very valuable, and for the major platforms, particularly those identified in section 6, regular independent review is essential.

Recommendation 8.3
Major public science engagement providers should undergo periodic review and evaluation by Education Scotland every four years to ensure provision of a high quality product and evaluate its medium-term impact. More established platforms should be encouraged to support smaller or less well-established ones.

Accessibility and awareness

It is vital that the whole population of Scotland has ready access to at least one public science engagement platform. Although the situation is improving, many opportunities are not available in some rural and semi-rural areas due to their remoteness and associated transport costs. A number of platforms claim to deliver across Scotland, but in reality this is not the case and/or the costs are prohibitive. This is not satisfactory. However, some platforms such as science festivals may provide, as discussed above, a more flexible and responsive solution.

Current accessibility should be assessed and kept under review so as to ensure that the overwhelming majority of the population can attend a public engagement in science event within half-an-hour's travel.

Recommendation 8.4
All public science engagement platforms should be encouraged or required by Government and other public funding bodies to collect, analyse and respond to, more detailed statistics on their audiences (around age, ethnicity, socio-economic status and geographic origin) to enable better targeting of opportunities at less engaged or more deprived or remote sections of the community.

Recommendation 8.5
Government should consider directing public funding to ensure these deprived or remote communities can benefit from the provision of public science engagement opportunities within half an hour's travel time.

Recommendation 8.6
All public science engagement platforms should be encouraged or required by Government and other public funding bodies to develop more customer led, bottom up, approaches to programming of activities: better understanding of, and response to, the science interests of both engaged audiences and non-engaged potential audiences.


Some public science engagement initiatives contribute to the development and review of public policy and are an important element in our civic society. However, they should all be conscious of this potential role and seek to make such connections wherever possible in order to assist the democratic process. In particular, the Scottish science centres and festivals provide the opportunity to organise debates and discussions locally, and in cooperation nationally, on particular scientific and social issues.

Recommendation 8.7
All public science engagement platforms should be encouraged or required by Government and other public funding bodies to consider how they can better connect their audiences with public policy-making and other democratic and citizenship processes.


Broadcast news and programming, TV, magazines and newspapers, and, increasingly, online content provide the key components for communication of our culture of science and technology. The growth of digital broadcasting has also increased opportunities, most notably on the BBC's range of channels. A detailed consideration of the issues at a UK level features in the 2010 report 'Science and the Media: Securing the Future' from the DBIS Science and Media expert group [106] . As most people find out about new developments in science through the media, it is important that we seek to ensure there is a wide and informed representation of science and technology.

There is a significant difference between 'programming' and 'news'. Whilst there is much to applaud in the range of science programmes, news coverage of science does not adequately reflect the breadth and quality of science research and innovations taking place in Scotland and elsewhere, and the impact they have on our lives. In print journalism, there are occasionally good science-based features, particularly in weekend supplements, but they do not reflect fully the many aspects of the science taking place and coverage within news pages is limited.

New opportunities are afforded by new media (although these are also not accessed by all). Online versions of traditional media outlets provide the space to explore detailed science stories. Social media are increasingly people's first port of call for finding out about news and events. In the case of blogs or 'citizen journalism', in particular, they also offer the public increased opportunities for direct access to scientists themselves, without a journalistic 'filter'. The Beacons Project hosted a workshop in 2010 that explored a number of these issues [107] .

Feedback from a number of media outlets (via survey questions and a number of meetings/discussions held by OCSA over the last 18 months) (unpublished) suggests there is no specific agenda to exclude science stories from coverage in the Scottish media and there are no particular barriers to them covering science stories from Scotland. However, a number of media professionals admitted that their organisation 'could do more' to cover science, engineering and technology.

With the exception of BBC Scotland, there are no specialist science correspondents working in the Scottish media. Science stories could therefore be picked up by health, business, general news or general features correspondents/writers. There are risks here: no-one is horizon-scanning and building contacts, and at the same time science stories may 'fall through the net'. However, this situation also presents opportunities for science coverage, as a number of writers at any media outlet have the potential to be engaged in any particular story.

Networking opportunities may have a role to play here, but will only be successful if both scientists and media have the time to devote to them. Feedback from the media suggested editors and their staff are unlikely to afford the time to attend such events on the regular basis required to achieve their full value. As one respondent described it, "casual networking doesn't really work in a modern newspaper context - it has to be specifically aimed at producing a specific story. The reporter cannot justify the time otherwise."

The internet explosion is also playing its part in public science engagement with an enormous diversity of formal and informal science related sites, blogs, surveys, journalism, multimedia etc. As in any other sphere in the media, the quality, accuracy and rigour or science-based material can be variable. The boundary between social media and more traditional Media is not clearly defined as many media organisations have websites that are heavily used by the public for a range of purposes including exploring science.

Nevertheless, the range and quality of coverage of science and technology within all media could be improved to address some of the problems and issues noted above and a brief proposal is described below.

Recommendation 8.8
It is recommended that the Scottish Government initiates a feasibility study into the establishment of a Scottish Media Centre (as outlined in the annex below).

International profile

The international image of Scotland is an amalgam of landscape, history, golf, arts and whisky. Scotland has a history and a current practice of outstanding scientific achievement but when science and technology are mentioned the reference is usually historical and around the enlightenment or other examples - James Watt, James Clerk Maxwell, the invention of telephones and television etc. - rather than around its current science strengths.

However, Scotland's science and research base continues to be among the best in the world today. Investment in Scotland's research base has produced very positive results in terms of quality and impact. The 'Evidence Report' [108] provides information on the performance of Scotland's research base relative to that of the 26 comparator countries responsible for around 95% of the world's top research. The report confirms that Scotland's research (which takes place primarily in the public sector) is cited by other researchers around the world more often than any other country, in comparison to its Gross Domestic Product ( GDP). Scotland excels in agricultural sciences, pharmacology and toxicology, space sciences, and plant and animal sciences - all more than 50% above the world average in terms of relative citation impact.

However, the Anholt-GfK Roper Nation Brands Index ( NBI) which assesses and monitors how Scotland's brand is perceived around the world by online panellists indicates that this reputation may not be well recognised internationally or among the wider public. Recent data indicate that Scotland ranked 24th out of 50 nations for its overseas reputation in making a major contribution to science and technology.

Resolving this apparent mismatch between reality and perception will require a multi-faceted approach from a wide range of partners, and work continues by a range of organisations, including (amongst others) Scottish Government and its enterprise agencies and partners, Scottish Development International and the higher education sector with the UK research councils.

Two proposals are recommended for further consideration and development.

1. Scottish Media Centre

Establishing a Scottish Media Centre, hosted by an independent third party, whose role would be to disseminate information on Scottish scientific research and technological departments and applications indirectly via the established media and directly through social media, would assist in overcoming the misperceptions. A key role of the centre would be to engage with the international press, specialist and general, to promote the activities and successes and raise further awareness of Scotland's scientific and technological achievements. The centre would provide a link to addressing some of the recommendations set out in the 2010 report 'Science and the Media: Securing the Future' from the DBIS Science and Media expert group.

This is covered by recommendation 8.8.


Scotland has a unique asset in the EISF which retains a high reputation as the first of all festivals and for its programming but also for the unstinting support it has given to new festivals across the world. The EISF sees visits each year from international delegations; in addition the British Council organises substantial multi-country delegations to visit every two years.

More recently, it has been employed by the Government of Abu Dhabi to deliver a science festival in the United Arab Emirates which is intended to establish itself as a regional annual event, and has also been asked to present proposals to Nottingham and Beijing. Alongside the summer Edinburgh arts, fringe and book festivals, the EISF continues to emphasise the place of science in Scottish culture, both at home and internationally.

It has, in the past, acted as a showcase for Scottish Science both for the general participant but also for specialist audiences together with commercial and foreign Media. A greater emphasis on this role and its international marketing and reach should be encouraged and supported.

Recommendation 8.9
The Scottish Government should encourage and support the international role of the EISF.

Annex: Proposal for a Scottish Science Media Centre


To establish a virtual centre, hosted by an independent third party, to disseminate information on Scottish scientific research and technological developments and applications indirectly via the established media and directly through social media.


In order:

  • to contribute to a situation in which the Scottish people are given access to news in this area and to contribute to a confident culture in which science and technology (S & T) is an established part
  • to ensure wider knowledge of Scottish S & T outwith Scotland, it is necessary to obtain much wider coverage within all media than is currently the case.

This task is made more difficult with the decline of the traditional print media where there are no dedicated S & T reporters in Scotland, except for the very welcome recent appointment by BBC Scotland, and few even in Britain and the lesser but noticeable decline in the BBC and ITV networks' science and technology based output. In counterbalance to that has been the rapid and enormous growth of social media, a situation that continues but is also fluid and in many respects uncertain in its effect.

In these circumstances it is not sufficient any longer to rely upon 'news organs' seeking out 'news' or in many cases having even the ability to respond to S & T news when it demands coverage. In these circumstances it is necessary to be a provider of information in appropriate formats for the various, and very different, media.


  • to source S & T 'stories' from around Scotland and deliver them appropriately to all media
  • in particular to integrate elements from different sources to make a full and attractive story
  • to provide a resource and signpost for journalists
  • to arrange S & T events in Scotland that attract journalists and media attention
  • to exploit social media
  • to liaise with Scottish Schools of Journalism.


A Scottish Science and Technology Media Centre would comprise of two journalists with a science and/or technological background or experience. They would be hosted by an appropriate organisation, itself independent of science and the media, providing accommodation, telecommunications and administrative support. They would report to a small Board comprised of representatives of the Media, S & T industry, Universities and Government, with a remit to provide a wide range of content representing the richness and quality of Scottish Science and Technology, which is both attractive and suitable for use by all forms of media.

They would work with existing practitioners in the field, notably public relations within universities, Government, research institutes and companies, particularly seeking to synthesise and generalise to create attractive and interesting 'stories'.

They would not only issue material but arrange events attractive to journalists and appropriate others, which would bring them to Scotland to allow direct engagement with scientists, technologists and processes.

Secondarily, they would provide a first port of call for journalists seeking information on an 'S & T story', directing them to the right institution/person to provide a response or background.

Composition of Board

A small Board of, say, seven people with appropriate experience and backgrounds who would provide overall leadership and guidance.


Staffing of two journalists with one administrator, requiring IT, an events budget and back up costs paid to the host: to a first approximation - £200,000.


The Science Media Centre in London shares some of the remit described above. Its base funders are two charities and the UK Government, but it also receives considerable funds from other charities, media organisations and industry, with such contributions being restricted to no more than 5% of the centre's income so as to ensure its independence.

A similar funding 'cocktail' should be explored for the Scottish Media Centre.


It would be necessary to identify appropriate criteria with some numbers based around additional and greater coverage in Scotland, Britain and internationally.

Length of trial

Three years, with evaluation commencing in the third year.

Next steps

If the broad idea finds favour then it needs to be expanded and refined, including comparison with experience in England, so that a formal proposal can be the subject of consultation.

List of recommendations

Part 2 Initial Teacher Education

Recommendation 2.1
It is recommended that the Scottish Government ensures that a clear and detailed record of the qualifications and capacities of the STEM teacher workforce in Scotland, particularly in the primary sector, is developed and maintained to inform the reform of initial teacher education and to address the weaknesses in STEM teaching in primary education measured in the 2008 TIMSS report.

Recommendation 2.2
The Scottish Government should adapt a programme to Scotland with similar aims and aspirations to the Teach First Programme.

Recommendation 2.3
It is recommended that Scottish Government, Universities and the General Teaching Council for Scotland ( GTCS) support and implement the following Donaldson Report recommendations in relation to STEM Primary ITE:

Recommendation 12 (Donaldson Report)
Increased emphasis should be given to ensuring that primary students have sufficient understanding of the areas they are expected to teach.

Recommendation 13 (Donaldson Report)
Clear expectations about necessary prior learning for teacher education courses should be developed together with diagnostic assessments and online resources to allow students to reach that baseline in advance of formally embarking on a course. This mechanism could also be used to support existing teachers.

Recommendation 14 (Donaldson Report)
The professional component in programmes of initial teacher education should address more directly areas where teachers experience greatest difficulty and where we know that Scottish education needs to improve. That will require a radical reappraisal of present courses and of the guidelines provided by GTCS.

Recommendation 2.4
It is recommended that in order to move the profession to a stronger base the Scottish Government in partnership with universities establishes targets for increasing the number of trainee teachers admitted to Primary Teaching ITE with enhanced STEM qualifications by:

- admitting an increased number of students with STEM qualifications up to and including degree level

- raising now the qualification requirement for Primary Teaching students to include a minimum of SCQF level 5 or above in a science and mathematics, increasing to SCQF level 6 or above in a science and mathematics within five years

- acquiring and making available on an annual basis data on the STEM qualifications of ITE applicants and recruits.

Recommendation 2.5
It is recommended that the National Partnership Group considers the particular needs of primary schools and their teachers.

Part 3 Professional Development

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.

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.

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.

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.

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

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).

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.

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.

Part 4 The New Curriculum: Additional Challenges

Recommendation 4.1
It is recommended that SEEAG and the Deans of Science and Engineering Group working with STEM-Ed Scotland and teachers from all STEM subjects lead and organize a project to exemplify good interdisciplinary and cross-curricular teaching and learning, emphasising its foundation on sound subject knowledge, and to make these examples and associated CPD widely available to teachers.

Recommendation 4.2
It is recommended to universities that more graduates in, for example, engineering, electronics, earth and environmental science disciplines should be encouraged and recruited into teaching in order to broaden and enrich the discipline knowledge base of the profession and to contribute to developing and enhancing interdisciplinary approaches to science learning and teaching.

Recommendation 4.3
It is recommended that Scottish universities give much greater recognition to the Advanced Higher and Science Baccalaureate qualifications in order to promote a higher level of uptake across Scottish schools and colleges, and to encourage more flexible pathways to college and university entry.

Recommendation 4.4
It is recommended that Education Scotland provides national guidance to schools to ensure that schools devote sufficient curriculum time to the study of STEM subjects to allow pupils to develop a deep learning of the pillars of knowledge and skills of STEM as well as an understanding of the practical and interdisciplinary nature of STEM.

Recommendation 4.5
It is recommended that SQA develop mechanisms for increasing the breadth of CfE STEM subject qualifications provision, and that Education Scotland and universities provide the necessary support for the redevelopment and delivery of these qualifications nationally.

Recommendation 4.6
SEEAG supports the SSAC Recommendation 9 [17] that there should be close monitoring by Education Scotland of the curriculum models introduced across Scotland to ensure that a sufficient breadth of opportunity to study the full range of sciences is available to all pupils across Scotland.

Recommendation 4.8
It is recommended that SQA develop exemplars of interdisciplinary questions, together with assessments that measure the different inputs from the different sciences.

Recommendation 4.9
It is recommended that SQA assessments should use a broader range of interdisciplinary contexts within which to locate examination questions, and explore innovative courses (perhaps units within courses) which deliberately blur traditional subject boundaries. These courses should include innovative assessment methods (synoptic questions, extended assignments and collaborative project work) [42] .

Recommendation 4.10
It is recommended that Education Scotland initiates and supports a programme to implement the teaching of thinking and problem-solving skills within the STEM curriculum in order to raise academic achievement.

Recommendation 4.11
It is recommended that SSERC build on its previous work and that of The Royal Society to research the cost of adequately delivering the STEM curriculum at all stages in Scottish schools. Budget recommendations should be based on reasonable assumptions for use of consumable materials by pupils and the writing off costs of equipment over sensible lifetimes. These figures should be widely circulated and regularly updated.

Recommendation 4.12
It is recommended that schools and their local authorities ensure pupils are provided with quality learning experiences where they can develop the skills of practical investigation and problem solving. This can only be done when there is sufficient equipment for hands-on pupil practical work in small groups or individually. Schools must be provided with adequate funds to provide and maintain sufficient equipment for effective hands-on experiences for all pupils based on the figures provided in SSERC's recommendations in 4.11 above.

Recommendation 4.13
It is recommended that Education Scotland in carrying out their inspection of schools should review and comment on the school's allocation of resources against SSERC's recommendations in 4.11 above.

Recommendation 4.14
It is recommended that local authorities and schools ensure that STEM departments and faculties have sufficient well trained, specialist technicians to ensure delivery of practical STEM work within CfE, and that in parallel with recommendation 2.1 the Scottish Government ensures that a clear and detailed record of the number, qualifications and capacities of the STEM technician force in Scotland is collected and maintained.

Recommendation 4.15
It is recommended that the Scottish Government should implement a numeracy and mathematics action plan based on the findings of the national survey, that this implementation recognises the fundamental role of numeracy and mathematics plays as a foundation to science, and ensures that these are more widely used in an interdisciplinary way in the teaching of science, engineering and technology.

Recommendation 4.16
It is recommended that the Scottish Government and Education Scotland support and ensure the wider development of skills and expertise in the teaching of early years (emergent) science by identifying and building upon existing expertise in Scotland, and through teacher education and professional development.

Part 5 Support Structures for Teachers and Learners of STEM Subjects

Recommendation 5.1
It is recommended that the Scottish Government consider the development of hub schools as proposed in the Donaldson Report [12] and that hub schools with a STEM specialism fulfil the additional role of centres of excellence in STEM, with strong links to professional learning communities, universities (including ITE faculties and STEM departments) and industry, and with the capacity to make available a broad provision in science subjects and interdisciplinary science teaching.

Recommendation 5.2
It is recommended that Education Scotland and local authorities ensure that support and resources are made available to stimulate the development and growth of Professional Learning Communities in STEM learning and teaching, with strong links to universities and/or colleges where possible.

Recommendation 5.3
It is recommended that the Scottish Government ensures that support and resources are made available to professional societies, colleges, universities, science centres and other stakeholders to support and extend Professional Learning Community networks.

Recommendation 5.4
It is recommended that LAs establish and maintain a record of professional (teacher) learning communities in their authorities, and Education Scotland develops and maintains a profile of learning communities across Scotland, as a basis for stimulating their wider establishment and development, and to document examples of good practice.

Recommendation 5.5
In order to ensure that industry input into the curriculum and CPD is aligned with students and teachers needs and CfE in future it is recommended that Education Scotland ensure that all industry engagement is developed and delivered in partnership with appropriate pedagogical partners (see also recommendation 6.6).

Recommendation 5.6
Building on the proven success and large scale of SSERC's work, delivered with support from Local Authorities and the Scottish Government, it is recommended to the Scottish Government that SSERC, working with partner organisations and linked to the NSLC in York, becomes Scotland's national science learning centre, with enhanced provision to deliver a wider range of support for STEM teaching and learning.

Recommendation 5.7
It is recommended that local authorities and headteachers ensure a supportive framework is in place to allow senior and middle managers and leaders to support and facilitate all those delivering STEM education to our young people. The leadership provided previously by those in the roles such as LA subject advisers and subject principal teachers is still required. LAs and head teachers should ensure that sufficient staff with the range of expertise required across the whole STEM spectrum be employed to provide leadership for STEM education in schools.

Part 6 Real Life Science, Engineering and Technology: Increasing Young Peoples' Engagement and Understanding

Recommendation 6.1
It is recommended that STEM Central be extended and supported by Education Scotland so as to develop it into a useful 'one stop shop' for teachers, learners and parents in terms of practical STEM and science engagement ideas, activities and providers. This support should include encouraging STEM engagement providers to contribute information and links to/from STEM Central.

Recommendation 6.2
It is recommended that the basic engagement for all schools described in 6.3 below, being offered through the four providers together with the Science Centres and the major Science Festivals, are reviewed on a four-year cycle by Education Scotland.

Recommendation 6.3
It is recommended that schools are supported by local authorities and the providers by the Scottish Government so as to ensure that all schools are enabled to benefit from a STEM Ambassador(s), a Generation Science visit, the establishment of a Scottish Council for Development and Industry ( SCDI) Young Engineers and Science Clubs ( YESC) and an annual visit out to a Science Centre or Festival.

Recommendation 6.4
We therefore recommend that the Office of the Chief Scientific Advisor work with the Scottish Science Centre Network and the University of the Highlands and Islands to establish a network of regional STEM engagement hubs. These hubs should focus on improving access, quality and delivery of practical STEM activities to schools.

Recommendation 6.5
It is recommended that industry, rather than through individual contributions, should provide their support through the main providers listed in 6.3 so as to provide high quality, independently evaluated, educational benefit with national coverage.

Recommendation 6.6
It is recommended that any future science engagement funding available from the Office of the Chief Scientific Adviser should reflect the strategic priorities of this report alongside Scottish Government objectives.

Recommendation 6.7
We recommend that Universities Scotland help and support universities by providing examples and case studies on how to work more closely with science engagement providers to fulfil the impact criteria of research council funding.

Part 7 Beyond School: Further Learning, Training and Employment

Recommendation 7.1
It is recommended that, as the reform of the post-16 education system is taken forward, the Scottish Government and the Scottish Funding Council ( SFC) should prioritise the preservation of STEM provision and invest in the further development of capacity in colleges in STEM subjects at regional and national level, aligned with labour markets and economic priorities.

Recommendation 7.2
In order to broaden the STEM base and the awareness of young people about the nature and breadth of STEM subjects, it is recommended that a range of National 5 and Higher units and courses in more applied sciences such as Earth science and Biotechnology should be developed and promoted by SQA in the senior phase. (see also recommendations 4.2 and 4.5).

Recommendation 7.3
It is recommended that, as the Scottish Government, Scottish Funding Council and Skills Development Scotland ( SDS) take forward proposals to develop and raise awareness of more flexible pathways from secondary education through further and higher education, specific consideration is given to enhancing choice of progression pathways in STEM subjects and to raising awareness of alternative progression options and pathways into work through effective STEM career management skills (see also recommendation 4.3).

Recommendation 7.4
It is recommended that representative industry bodies consider and improve the presentation of employment and career opportunities to undergraduates.

Recommendation 7.5
It is recommended that representative industry bodies ( Industry Advisory Boards) work with industry support organisations and Careers Guidance organisations (such as SDS) to consider, develop and promote relevant information on STEM careers and career pathways across all levels of education, identifying and promoting the transferability of STEM skills across the STEM Industries.

Recommendation 7.6
Education Scotland and SDS should work together to co-ordinate the provision of information on STEM related resources, activities and opportunities through effective communication networks and to encourage the participation of schools in activities that enhance awareness of STEM related careers. This should include capitalising on Curriculum for Excellence ( CfE) by mapping existing and future STEM resources and activities to CfE and communicating this effectively to education and industry.

Recommendation 7.7
The organisations implementing the Career Information, Advice and Guidance ( CIAG) strategy should recognise the importance of redressing negative or ill-informed perceptions of careers in science, engineering and technology through support for initiatives that enhance co-ordinated industry engagement with the education sector, including CPD, industry placements, and practical project work.

Recommendation 7.8
Employer bodies should:

- invest more resources in overcoming the negative or ill-informed perceptions of STEM careers

- institute practical programmes to attract and retain a much greater number of women in STEM careers.

Recommendation 7.9
SDS and others tasked with CIAG should promote greater gender equality in the STEM workforce through well chosen examples and case studies.

Recommendation 7.10
Employers should be encouraged to provide a greater number of traditional apprenticeships where appropriate training is provided over a three- or four-year period on a basis economic to both apprentice and employer.

Part 8 Supporting a Creative Science Culture

Recommendation 8.1
The outreach role of the science centres is as important as their in-reach role and the annual figures on outreach activity should be used to agree annual objectives between the centres and the Scottish Government.

Recommendation 8.2
The Scottish Government's support for science centres and science festivals is essential and effective and it is recommended that financial and other support should continue to be provide so that the centres and Festivals may fulfil their valuable roles.

Recommendation 8.3
Major public science engagement providers should undergo periodic review and evaluation by Education Scotland every four years to ensure provision of a high quality product and evaluate its medium-term impact. More established platforms should be encouraged to support smaller or less well established ones.

Recommendation 8.4
All public science engagement platforms should be encouraged or required by Government and other public funding bodies to collect, analyse and respond to, more detailed statistics on their audiences (around age, ethnicity, socio-economic status and geographic origin) to enable better targeting of opportunities at less engaged or more deprived or remote sections of the community.

Recommendation 8.5
Government should consider directing public funding to ensure these deprived or remote communities can benefit from the provision of public science engagement opportunities within half an hour's travel time.

Recommendation 8.6
All public science engagement platforms should be encouraged or required by Government and other public funding bodies to develop more customer led, bottom up, approaches to programming of activities: better understanding of, and response to, the science interests of both engaged audiences and non-engaged potential audiences.

Recommendation 8.7
All public science engagement platforms should be encouraged or required by Government and other public funding bodies to consider how they can better connect their audiences with public policy-making and other democratic and citizenship processes.

Recommendation 8.8
It is recommended that the Scottish Government initiate a feasibility study into the establishment of a Scottish Media Centre.

Recommendation 8.9
The Scottish Government should encourage and support the international role of EISF.