STEM graduates important but let’s support existing teachers as well

July 09, 2018
Female school student adding up numbers on a whiteboard
The Academy is committed to developing and delivering inquiry-based science curriculum resources and teacher professional learning programs, including a maths learning program.

The Australian Academy of Science has welcomed Federal Education Minister Simon Birmingham’s statement about the importance of qualified science and maths teachers in Australian schools.

The Academy said there aren’t enough well-trained and well-supported science and maths teachers to be placed in all Australian schools and pointed to alarming decreases in student enrolments in advanced science and maths subjects, particularly among girls.

Attracting more STEM graduates into teaching and ensuring better STEM training for teacher trainees is part of the solution, however, only about five per cent of the teaching workforce turns over each year so this is a long-term strategy—we need to do a much better job supporting our existing teachers in the meantime.

With support from the Australian government, industry, philanthropists and some state governments, the Australian Academy of Science is committed to developing and delivering inquiry-based science curriculum resources and teacher professional learning programs, recently expanding to a national maths learning program.

The Academy has engaged with over 70% of Australian science teachers, and delivered professional learning workshops to over 23,000 teachers over the past decade.

This has taught us that targeted professional development for existing teachers—particularly those without formal training in their disciplines, and those teaching in regional and remote areas—is critical and urgent if we are to give all teachers the skills and confidence to engage and inspire their students to pursue maths and science.

Evidence shows that programs like the Academy’s Primary Connections, Science by Doing and ReSolve: Maths by Inquiry work, however, they have not been implemented in all schools. The Academy stands willing and able to work with state governments and the Federal Government to do more.

© 2018 Australian Academy of Science

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