Over the last 4 years, teachers from across Scotland have taken part in a master’s level programme provided by Primary Engineer, accredited by the University of Strathclyde, given professional recognition by GTCS and won an Excellence Award at the 2017 GTCS awards ceremony. It is supported by Skills Development Scotland, who love it because “it is an excellent example of collaboration between industry and educational practitioners, building on the resource of STEM leaders in schools across Scotland: “It provides school clusters with a sustainable STEM resource and creates a community of practice, which is supportive and sharing” (William Scott, Key Sector Manager, Skills Development Scotland). This course is worth 60 Master’s level credits and can be used towards an MEd at the University of Strathclyde. Its broad aims are to: facilitate practitioners to develop their understanding of the STEM educational landscape, create stronger links within engineering and manufacturing industries to inform their practice and, building on these, undertake practitioner enquiry/action research to improve their teaching.
Here are some of their stories:
Lorna Hay, Pitteuchar East Primary School: writes: “I saw the Primary Engineer Post Graduate Certificate in Engineering STEM Learning as an opportunity to further develop my STEM pedagogy, as well as my knowledge and understanding of engineering. The results of my action research project, which had developed from my discussions with engineers about their inspirations and Engineering Habits of Mind, suggested 80% of my class had increased their enjoyment of engineering. For the girls in my class, it was 100%. This enthusiasm echoed across the school, which led to improvements in the problem-solving skills of my learners, including developing a positive attitude to mistakes. The benefits that the course has had on my CPD has continued. I have become a leader within my school for STEM, drafting parts of our School Quality Improvement Plan, organising whole-school STEM events and supporting other teachers in delivering engineering experiences. I am also currently supporting the Scottish Government’s Education and Skills committee with an inquiry into STEM for 3-7 year old’s, and recently spoke at the launch of the Institution of Primary & Secondary Engineers at the House of Lords.”
Lynne Mylet, All Saints Secondary school, states, “I have continued to maintain most of my links with industry and even made new ones. We had a massive (more than double the previous year) uptake in Physics entering the Leaders Award, which was the focus for my final assignment. My robotics group won the Tomorrows Engineers Robotics Competition this year and we all went to the Big Bang Fair in Birmingham for the final. We set up a STEM project group and also started to register some of our S6 learners as STEM ambassadors to assist in visiting early years establishments and primary schools to deliver short lessons in STEM. We recently won ‘Secondary club of the year’ at the celebration of STEM event, at the Glasgow science centre, and are planning for a community/parent outreach initiative in STEM at this moment in time.”
Since completing the course, Maria Docherty of Oakgrove Primary has been able to embed new whole school approaches to promote creative problem-solving initiatives and engagement with STEM. “We have established a successful family STEM event to change the mindset of parents about STEM careers by showcasing pupils work and allowing engagement with STEM ambassadors from the local community, which can be viewed by clicking Link 1, Link 2 or Link 3. I now help shape the schools STEM curriculum and I am leading staff CLPL in this area.”
Is it worth it?
The course has been widely acclaimed by academic and industry professionals alike: “it is well ahead of the game” says Iain MacLeod, Emeritus Professor, University of Strathclyde and Secretary of IESIS, whilst Dr Lynne O’Hare, Chief Commercial Officer of the Advanced Forming and Research Centre exclaims “It’s superb to see the impact that has been made not just on the young Primary Engineers, which is obviously very positive, but also the impact on their teachers”. Douglas Morrison, Associate Director of Innovation and STEM at City of Glasgow College believes “The professional recognition course run by Primary Engineer is an outstanding example of meaningful and impactful STEM engagement with teachers.”
A strong research base
The outcomes of the teachers’ research have been included in wider research, undertaken by the University of Winchester and the Royal Academy of Engineering. St Maurice’s High School, North Lanarkshire, found that almost 60% of pupils studied demonstrated an increased frequency of generating ideas during lesson time. St Mary’s Primary School, North Lanarkshire, found there to be a clear gender disparity in their school when it came to pupil self-efficacy scores for STEM subjects. Participation on the course allowed them to positively influence those findings, most notably through engineering. This course also helps pupils adapt and become resilient, as found by Caledonia Primary, Glasgow, with a 30% increase in pupils who wanted to carry on when faced with adversity. The huge positive impact of those who complete this course continues to grow.
Join the revolution
The PGCert will be running again in January 2020, so why not sign up?
Skills Development Scotland offer funding opportunities for Scottish teachers who are interested in this opportunity, but it does not matter where you are from, you can still join in.
For more information, and to register for the Post Graduate Certificate in Engineering STEM Learning, please contact Graham Stow, Course Convener and Head of Education, Research and Qualifications at Primary Engineer: firstname.lastname@example.org