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Careers STEM from school choices

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There’s no point telling students that they should get into STEAM careers and then provide no guidance as to subject choice and pathways. Too often secondary schools are leaving that job to universities.

AMSI Director, Professor Geoff Prince gave his response to the Optimising STEM Industry-School Partnerships report saying; “It is not enough to tell students they need an engineering degree to be an engineer and then leave subject choice recommendation to universities. Industry partnerships, including the development of materials for use in the classroom, should make these choices real for students,” he said.

As many school students continue to make subject choices for the wrong reasons – only 7 per cent of Year 12 girls and 12.1 per cent of Year 12 of boys enrolled in advanced maths in 2016 – the Institute has strongly backed the report’s ATAR and prerequisite recommendations.

“We continue to see historic lows in student participation in higher level mathematics, a trend fuelled by a lack of university pre-requisites. If we don’t deal with these issues they will block the effectiveness of many of the report’s recommendations,” said Professor Prince.

AMSI Schools Program Manager and Choose Maths Project Director, Janine McIntosh said she was pleased with the report’s focus on professional learning for out-of-field teachers who account for a sizeable proportion of those teaching secondary mathematics.

“We know at least 26 per cent of Years 7–10 mathematics classes taught by an out-of-field teacher. Professional development and training is critical to tackle lack of confidence and strengthen subject knowledge. However, this should not distract us from the task of rectifying this severe structural problem at a more fundamental level,” said McIntosh.

With data and evidence-based decision-making key to functional change, Professor Prince said he commended the dashboard for monitoring student learning outcomes and education system performance.

Professor Prince, however, would have liked the report to have included targets for critical teacher indicators.

“We would have liked to see a recommendation that the Education Council give consideration to the development of targets for critical indicators such as out-of-field teaching and teacher graduation rates in STEM disciplines,” he said.


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