A firm hold on STEM subjects

3rd February 2012 at 00:00
Placements in industrial environments will give teachers a chance to pass on vital know-how in science and technology

Teachers could be sent on industrial work placements in a drive to boost both their own and pupils' performance and future prospects.

Inverclyde Council has been awarded pound;142,400 by Texas Instruments to improve teaching of science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) in secondaries.

The aim is to develop teachers' knowledge and skills to promote the relevance of the subjects to pupils' lives and careers.

Gordon Manson, council education quality improvement officer, said: "Teachers could be funded to do placements with companies so that they can bring back their experiences and tell pupils that they used this part of science or maths, or saw it being used, in the workplace.

"This new approach will also give teachers the freedom to veer away from the curriculum. For example, when there was a tsunami recently, a science class broke from their programme to start looking at that.

"They are still covering coursework, but in ways which make it more relevant to children's daily lives."

Funding will support co-operative learning in which pupils work in small teams, researching their subject to help teach each other.

Inverclyde is the first council in Scotland to receive funding from Texas Instrument's Power of STEM Education initiative.

Announcing the award last month, Inverclyde's education and lifelong learning convener, Terry Loughran, said it was a "real coup" which would encourage pupils to stick with STEM subjects and expand school links with local employers.

TI Greenock managing director, Gerry McCarthy, said STEM education was "critical" to the firm's ethos of "strong communities building strong companies" and vice-versa.

The grant is part of a pound;650,950 fund, the rest of which is being divided between two schools in the US and one in Malaysia.

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