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Home > News > Professional Issues > Professional Issues Volume 5 > All students must have access to new STEM initiatives

All students must have access to new STEM initiatives

Coding_cmyk.jpgOur union remains concerned about new plans from state and federal governments to deliver education resources in the areas of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) to all students. 

With the rapid rise of technology and the publishing of the Chief Scientist’s 2014 report, STEM became a priority area for governments to invest in from late 2015. 

However, the IEUA-QNT is sceptical that adequate funding and equipment can be rolled out in all schools, especially those in regional and remote areas. 

Our union’s Assistant Secretary/Treasurer Paul Giles said schools should not be left out simply because they are not geographically and financially privileged to partner with universities. 

“The federal response aims to ensure that all students finish school with strong foundational knowledge in STEM and related skills,” Mr Giles said. 

“We strongly support a model of education based on community members working collaboratively with training providers, universities, business and industry.  

“However, we do not believe this model is universally viable as some schools are, for a wide range of geographic, social and financial reasons, better positioned to partner with outside organisations than others. 

“Funding collaborations between teachers, schools and universities are counterproductive if benefits are confined to a small number of teachers and students in urban areas.

“We also ask the highly practical question as to where schools might obtain funding for enough robotics equipment to provide multiple cohorts of students with the hands-on experience essential to science and technology education given its expense and fragility.” 

The Queensland Government’s Advancing Education Action Plan and #codingcounts initiative include strategies to support teachers and schools to introduce new STEM subjects such as coding and robotics.

“While we commend governments for recognising the need to acknowledge the professionalism of educators, we remain concerned about the introduction of new expectations of teachers,” Mr Giles said.

“This undermines the long-term goal of improving public perceptions of the profession and student outcomes. 

“We strongly caution against a perception that teachers who do not engage in such collaborations are incapable of delivering quality educational experiences for their students,” he said.  

Mr Giles said it is crucial our union continues to challenge any initiative that is presented as a mechanism for correction of teacher shortcomings. 

“If poorly managed, partnerships between schools and outside parties can in fact exacerbate disadvantage as regional, remote or financially challenged schools are often perceived as a less attractive investment,” he said. 

“What we need is the empowerment of community members and education professionals by providing secure, long-term access to funding and resources.

“Universities and businesses in particular need to be encouraged and supported to engage with as many schools as possible. 

“To this end, we suggest that teaching resources developed through partnerships with a smaller number of schools should be made available to all teachers.” 

More information on the federal government’s plan for STEM education can be found here. For more on the Queensland Government plan, follow this link.  

Authorised by Terry Burke, Independent Education Union of Australia – Queensland & Northern Territory Branch, Brisbane.