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Computer Science to become a Leaving Cert Subject

Posted by Schooldays Newshound, on 24/11/2016. Computer Science to become a Leaving Cert SubjectTags: Teachers Parenting

Minister for Education and Skills, Richard Bruton TD, today (Thursday 24th November) launched an expert report on education in Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) in Irish schools, and set out a programme to deliver on the ambition set out in the report of making Ireland a world-leader at providing STEM education.

These actions form part of the Action Plan for Education, published by Minister Bruton in September, which has the overall aim of making Ireland the best education and training service in Europe within a decade.

The STEM Education Review Group (STEMERG), which produced today’s report, was led by Professor Brian MacCraith of DCU, and included experts in STEM education as well as industry figures from world-leading companies including Intel and IBM.

The report outlines the extent of the economic and job opportunities for Ireland that are dependent on high quality STEM education, and also outlines that a step-change is needed in the provision of that education if we are to compete on an international level. It also sets out how, for social policy and community reasons, it is important to have scientifically literate citizens in a modern democracy.

It outlines 47 actions in order to deliver on these ambitions. In response to the publication of the report today, the Minister has identified 21 of these actions for initial priority implementation. These include:

  • All STEM teaching should be delivered by qualified STEM teachers. Currently there are challenges in the sciences, including an imbalance between the number of teachers with biology, chemistry and physics qualifications, which we are committing to address

  • Introduce computer science, including coding, as a Leaving Certificate subject

  • Deliver improvements in continuing professional developments for teaching in STEM, including a coherent Policy framework in the area, development of a comprehensive suite of STEM Continuing Professional development (CPD) programmes, upskilling programmes in the sciences, and Technology-Enhanced Learning CPD Programmes for Primary and Post-primary teachers

  • More inquiry-based learning as part of the curriculum in STEM subjects

  • Develop a means of recognising participation in extra-curricular STEM events and activities (e.g. Coder Dojo, BTYSE etc.) as part of STEM curriculum and assessment

  • Improvements in teaching methodologies in STEM subjects, including better curricular materials, including a central cloud-based repository for digital learning and STEM teaching resources

  • Support online communities of learning and practice

  • Better marketing of STEM qualifications, including highlighting career possibilities for students and parents. The report finds that there is a gap in awareness of the importance of these subjects

  • Address gender imbalances in specific STEM disciplines

  • Produce an integrated National STEM Education Strategy (STEM Education Policy Statement)

  • Review minimum entry requirements into the B.ED. programme for Primary Teachers

    The 26 remaining actions will be considered further as we prepare the STEM Education Policy Statement which will be published in the first half of 2017.

    Earlier this year, the Minister asked the National Council for Curriculum and Assessment to consider approaches to introducing the teaching of coding in primary schools. The Minister wrote to the Council to ask it to consider coding as part of a review of the primary school curriculum which is currently underway. The Council is considering this matter in the context of reviewing the primary mathematics curriculum. This will ensure that every child has an opportunity to develop the computational, and flexible and creative thinking skills that are the basis of computer science and coding.

    The STEM report will be furnished to the Oireachtas Committee on Education and Skills and the committee may wish to consider the report.

    Speaking at today’s announcement, Minister Bruton said:

    “The basic aim of this Government is to use our economic success to build a fair and compassionate society. No area is more central to this goal than education.”

    “I am determined that we should continually improve the education system in this area. For the generation of children currently in school and about to enter it, creative thinking and problem-solving skills will be absolutely key to how they develop and achieve their potential. In particular, their ability to think critically and develop solutions will be vital for their prospects in life. Providing STEM Education of the highest quality is essential if Ireland is to become an innovation leader at the forefront of technological and scientific change.”

    “We need to encourage our existing students, as well as future generations of students, to understand and embrace areas related to STEM. We must instill in our students that a STEM education can open many doors, even for those who do not pursue a STEM career.”

    “The recommendations proposed by the STEM Education Review Group will add significantly to the development of our STEM Education Policy Statement, which I will publish in the first half of 2017. In the meantime, I have set out 21 actions from the report which we will begin implementing immediately.”

    The Minister thanked the members of the Review Group and their Chairperson Professor Brian MacCraith for their detailed work in preparing the report.

    Also speaking at today’s announcement, Professor Brian MacCraith, Chairperson of the STEMERG, said:

    “"The overall levels of performance and engagement in STEM subjects are not good enough if we aim to provide the best for our nation’s children, and if we wish to sustain our economic ambitions for the future. A step-change in STEM performance and outcomes is required throughout the educational system if we are to move our STEM education performance up to the highest levels. The focus of our report has been to identify pathways to achieving that step-change so that, through implementation of our recommendations, the quality of STEM Education in Ireland will be enhanced considerably and sustainably. I am delighted that Minister Bruton has commented so positively on the report and that there is an immediate commitment to implementing many of the recommendations."



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