Systemic change needed to address disadvantage in STEM subjects


Disadvantages as a result of deprivation, gender and rurality need to be addressed to improve learning experiences in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).

While there is a range of positive work being done across the country, for some young people disadvantages are being compounded because of unconscious bias, resource issues and rurality.

Those are amongst the conclusions of a report published today by Holyrood’s Education and Skills Committee following an inquiry into 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.

Committee Convener, Clare Adamson MSP said:

“We heard so much about the innovative and fantastic work being doing by leaders in our schools and communities to grow STEM skills amongst our young people.

“These are skills which will become evermore critical as we enter the fourth industrial revolution which will see massive technological changes affecting changes to work and employment in the future.

“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.”

To help mark the release of the report and to highlight in particular the Committee observations on gender, 50 S1 school girls will come to the Scottish Parliament to take part in a ‘hackathon’ to produce graphics and visuals based on the Committee’s report.

Led by dressCode, a charity aimed at closing the gender gap in computing science, the session will be part of their programme which aims to engage, inspire and raising awareness of opportunities in the world of tech for women.

The session takes place from 9.30 am to 12.20 pm on Tuesday 19 November and is open to the media.

Requests for access should be made to Linda Peters.


The Scottish Government published its Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics Strategy in October 2017. The Committee inquiry explored progress being made towards the aims in the report as well as scrutinising the first annual progress report published in February 2019.

The Committee’s inquiry sought to focus on what work makes a real impact on systemic issues and the evidence of the progress the SG is making towards addressing these issues.

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