Industry called upon to help identify best practice in STEM education and engagement

Science Foundation Ireland and the Department of Education and Skills have today launched a study asking businesses across the country to assess their science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) engagement with schools. This is part of a wider plan to identify and improve STEM support for students in Ireland.

The first phase of the plan is a tailored online survey which will take businesses no more than five to fifteen minutes to complete, depending on their engagement levels. Calling on companies to examine their efforts in promoting science and technology to school pupils, the survey’s outcomes will provide a quantitative stocktake of the industry initiatives supporting STEM education that are currently in place in Ireland.

Speaking about the launch of the survey, Minister for Education and Skills, Joe McHugh T.D., said: ‘This survey represents an important step in realising the STEM Education Implementation Plan launched by my department last November. Our country is viewed globally as a hub of excellence and innovation, and this extends from industry through to education at all levels. We need to understand the current efforts of businesses to support schools, so that we can support best practice and ensure all pupils are benefitting. The study is an example of the important measures that we are taking to invest in the students of today, as they will guide the future of our scientific and technological advancements. We are delighted to kickstart this process through launching the survey with Science Foundation Ireland.’

Professor Mark Ferguson, Director General of Science Foundation Ireland and Chief Scientific Adviser to the Government, said: ‘To maintain Ireland’s leading role in global innovation, impactful research and scientific expertise, we must work in an informed, data-driven way alongside industry and schools to prepare our students for rewarding STEM careers. A key aspect of this is consistent reflection upon our progress in student support, ensuring that we remain cognisant of best practice so that we can improve future initiatives. There are countless opportunities for cross-industry collaboration that will strengthen our STEM curriculum. We are confident that the survey being launched today will highlight these potential partnerships, and through revealing what engagements between industry and education exist, help us promote and expand outstanding initiatives aimed at developing and maintaining an excellent standard of future STEM education. I greatly encourage the diverse industries in Ireland to partake in this important study.’

Results of the survey will feed into the Government’s overall plan to make Irish STEM education the best in Europe, whilst providing Irish learners with an education that nurtures curiosity, problem-solving, creativity and confidence. Robust and sustainable partnerships between schools, business and industry, public sector bodies, research organisations, further and higher-level institutions, and the Arts will be actively encouraged in order to achieve this.

The plan will also place greater emphasis on identifying schools in need of improved STEM resources. This will contribute towards the overall vision of generating a pipeline of talented scientists and innovators that will secure Ireland’s position at the forefront of the ongoing worldwide technological revolution.

The survey is now open, and we invite companies from all over Ireland to task a member of their organisation with completing it.