24 November 2016
RDS welcomes publication of STEM Education Report
Report: “an important step towards Ireland’s first STEM education policy”
The recommendations of the Government commissioned Report are comprehensive in scope and should form the basis for the next stage: the formulation of a national STEM education policy.
In some ways Ireland is at the forefront of STEM education innovation, but is lacking a cohesive framework to consolidate and advance the efforts of all stakeholders. The Report collates much of the best international thinking in many areas of science education incorporating recommendations on initial teacher education and continuous professional development (CPD); inquiry-based and technology-enhanced learning; the gender imbalance and the role of parents as key influencers.
RDS Chief Executive Michael Duffy said: “As an organisation that has been investing in science in Ireland for centuries, and in science education in more recent years, we are very pleased to see this much anticipated report into STEM education in primary and post-primary education. The importance of influencing primary-aged children with the exciting possibilities of STEM subjects is especially welcome, as research shows that by early teenage years many students are already turned off science and maths.’
‘In considering this report, and any future policy, we must remember that STEM education is about more than a jobs pipeline. Irish society will benefit from having a scientifically-literate population as the influence of technology and science increases in every aspect of our lives, both individually and collectively. A system of STEM education that prioritises students’ development of scientific skills, thinking and understanding is of central importance to the potential long-term gains to be made in this area.”
The RDS experience of developing and delivering a CPD STEM education programme for primary school teachers (RDS STEM Learning) shows that the depth of engagement with teachers is key in making this change happen and for it to be sustainable. The necessary step change requires a long-term commitment to inquiry-based learning via in-school capacity which can provide robust and engaging STEM teaching practices.
The ongoing CPD primary school teacher-training programme, RDS STEM Learning, and the annual RDS Primary Science Fair aim to nurture the science skills of primary school children around Ireland. This January the RDS Primary Science Fair Limerick will double capacity and expand to three days in total, matching the RDS Primary Science Fair Dublin. In total almost 6,000 students will take part. RDS STEM Learning was cited as positive example of existing STEM education in Ireland.
STEM Education in the Irish School System Report