District News, December 4 2020

Councillor Yvonne McNeilly, policy lead for education, congratulated both schools on their success.

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STEM teaching success for two island schools

Islay’s Bowmore and Port Ellen primary schools are among 19 places to have achieved a national award in honour of their science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) teaching.

The schools have been awarded with full STEM Nation Awards, part of a programme launched by Education Scotland as a pilot in September 2019 celebrating, promoting and building effective practice in STEM education.

Validators for the STEM Nation Award praised both Bowmore Primary School and Port Ellen Primary School for how they have embraced partnerships in their community, across Scotland and beyond.

Bowmore Primary School is proactively looking to use these partnerships to tackle gender stereotypes and promote equality in relation to STEM.

Port Ellen Primary School has marine biology links with Orkney, Hawaii and the Maldives, and both schools are developing a distillery project together that is rooted in the heart of Islay’s economy and traditions.

Since the launch, more than 70 schools and early learning and childcare settings across Scotland have become involved in the award.

To achieve the full award, education establishments reviewed their existing STEM practice, and identified strengths and areas for development.

These were presented to validators, with submissions including extracts from school improvement plans, photographs, video links and examples of engagement with partners and the school community through social media.

The final stage of the process concluded with virtual validation conversations.

To achieve the STEM Nation Award, practitioners were encouraged to apply for recognition across five award areas:

  • Leadership in STEM – celebrating effective leadership at all levels including children and young people leading STEM learning.
  • STEM family learning – recognising commitment to family learning and practice which is helping to build the STEM capital of learners and their families.
  • Employability and STEM partnership working – celebrating sustained collaboration between settings and their STEM partners to develop learners’ STEM and employability skills.
  • STEM curriculum and learner pathways – recognising the work of settings in developing an inspiring STEM curriculum and associated learner pathways.
  • Equity and equality in STEM – celebrating the work settings are undertaking to address the issues of equity and equality in STEM.

Alan Armstrong, Education Scotland’s strategic director, said: ‘Throughout the STEM Nation Award pilot we have seen an inspiring breadth of STEM learning experiences across Scotland, with pupils developing 21st century skills.

‘Education Scotland is delighted to award the full STEM Nation Award to Bowmore Primary School and Port Ellen Primary School in Argyll and Bute. Both schools have demonstrated rich, engaging and varied STEM experiences for learners.’

Science Minister Richard Lochhead said: ‘Many congratulations to those schools who have achieved STEM Nation Awards.

‘The efforts of those schools to offer pupils the chance to develop skills and awareness of STEM subjects will open up fantastic career opportunities to them and help to make sure that the workforce of the future is equipped to protect Scotland’s reputation as a true science and technology nation.’

Argyll and Bute Council’s policy lead for education, Councillor Yvonne McNeilly, said: ‘Here in Argyll and Bute, we have a track record for excellence in STEM learning experiences in our schools. With local key sectors that include creative industries, aquaculture and renewable energy, it’s important that our young people are well-equipped with skills our economy needs for the future – either at home or further afield.

‘So, congratulations to Port Ellen and Bowmore primaries, and good luck to North Bute Primary which I know has just completed the first step in achieving this award.’