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Deprivation and Gender Bias Need to be Tackled to Boost STEM Learning

Dominique Adams


Girl coding at dressCode event

To improve experiences and learning in STEM subjects deprivation, gender, unconscious bias and rurality need to be addressed, report finds.

Despite a range of positive ongoing work to address the issue of access and inequality in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) subjects, more still needs to be done to improve the learning experience of students, according to a new Government report.

The report published by Holyrood’s Education and Skills Committee found that, for some pupils, disadvantages are being compounded because of issues such as a lack of resources and rurality.

The report was created to explore the importance of STEM learning in early years. The Committee is calling for measures to be put in place to increase teacher confidence across Scotland as well as improve internet connectivity in schools to help support STEM learning experiences.

Commenting on the report, committee convener Clare Adamson MSP said: “To ensure our young people are equipped with the skills of the future, we want the Scottish Government to do more to measure the effectiveness of the strategies in place such as the STEM strategy.

“But measurements alone are not enough. We need systemic change to address continued disadvantage which exists, as identified in the Committee Report. We need inclusive economic growth, the fourth industrial revolution will provide so many opportunities for our young people and they need the skills to take up these opportunities.”


Daniel Johnson, Scottish Labour MSP for Edinburgh Southern and deputy convener of the Education and Skills Committee, told DIGIT: “The report makes clear there is a huge amount of work to do to make sure we establish STEM and break down the prejudices, and indeed the stereotypes, that seem to surround science and technology for young women.”

To help mark the release of the report and to highlight in particular the Committee observations on gender, S1 school girls were invited to attend the Scottish Parliament to take part in a ‘hackathon’, led by Scottish charity dressCode, to produce graphics and visuals based on the Committee’s report.

Speaking to DIGIT, dressCode founder and computing science teacher, Toni Scullion said: “Today’s report highlights important issues in education and it is spot on about the hurdles schools are facing such as internet access and rurality. It’s great to see the Government really shining a light on this.”

One of the event judges, Jude McCorry, head of business at The Data Lab, said to DIGIT: “Today’s report had 184 recommendations, which was a bit disheartening. I  would like businesses to have a read of the report and look at the areas around collaborative working with schools, quality of internet connectivity, and deprivation.

“We want all children in Scotland to have the same opportunities and access to build a sustainable digital economy for years to come.”

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Dominique Adams

Staff Writer, DIGIT

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