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Government on the back foot on STEM in our schools



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HON MARK BUTLER MP SHADOW MINISTER FOR ENVIRONMENT, CLIMATE CHANGE AND WATER ACTING SHADOW MINISTER FOR EDUCATION

MEMBER FOR PORT ADELAIDE

GOVERNMENT ON THE BACK FOOT ON STEM IN OUR SCHOOLS

Christopher Pyne has been caught-out playing catch up with his announcement on science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) chasing the lead of Labor’s strategy announced last week to improve teacher skills and encourage more students to study STEM.

Labor has been at the forefront of equipping our students with the skills for the future, with Opposition Leader Bill Shorten committing a future Labor Government to significant investment in STEM subjects across the education system in Labor’s Budget Reply.

Boosting science and maths outcomes in our schools requires adequate investment and training at all levels of education. Labor has led the way in developing a strategy to attract students to STEM careers and train teachers in the skills of the future.

The importance of teacher training in STEM should not be underestimated:

Nationally, around 40 per cent of information technology teachers and 20 per cent of general science and maths teachers teaching Years 7-10 classes have not completed at least 1 year of tertiary study in these areas;

Nationally, around 60 per cent of information technology teachers and 40 per cent of general science and maths teachers teaching Years 7-10 classes do not have a tertiary qualification in those areas.

Acting Shadow Minister for Education, Mark Butler, said that STEM skills are critical to Australia’s future productivity and attracting and retaining students needs to go beyond making subjects compulsory in years 11 and 12.

“Labor recognises the importance of increasing the number of students who study STEM subjects, which is why we announced a plan to attract more teachers as well as engage and inspire students, with a particular focus on coding which is so critical to the jobs of the future,” Mr Butler said.

“Labor will upskill 25,000 primary and secondary teachers so that they can teach science, technology, engineering and mathematics with confidence, and in turn, can instil that confidence in their students.

“In addition, Labor will provide scholarships for 25,000 new teachers with a STEM background and debt-free degrees for 100,000 students embarking on tertiary study in a STEM field.

“Three in four of the fastest growing occupations already require qualifications in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, and only Labor has a clear and comprehensive plan to address this shortfall.”

To harness the opportunities STEM provides our economy we need more than just rules in the final years of schooling - we need to upskill our teachers and inspire our students so that STEM is understood as an exciting and critical career opportunity.

“If Christopher Pyne is serious about improving science and maths outcomes in our classrooms, he will put his money where his mouth is and reverse his Government’s staggering cuts to education which will put more pressure than ever on our teachers.”

TUESDAY, 26 MAY 2015

MEDIA CONTACT: JO MEEHAN 0408 803 428