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23 March 2016

Impact Case Study: STEM education

In Australia, 75 per cent of the fast-growing occupations require STEM skills and knowledge.

In Australia, 75 per cent of the fast-growing occupations require STEM skills and knowledge, yet 40 per cent of Years 7 to 10 and 25 per cent of Years 11 and 12 maths classes are taught by non-maths teachers. (Australian Industry Group (AIG) 2012, Australian Mathematical Sciences Institute 2014)

Furthermore, 40 per cent of technology teachers and 20 per cent of science teachers, teaching Years 7 to 10 classes, have not completed even one year of subject relevant tertiary study. (ACER 2013c)

A lack of confidence and skills among some STEM teachers most likely has a negative impact on student engagement, as demonstrated by the decline in STEM subject interest between middle primary school and middle secondary school.

Only half of Year 12 students now study science, compared to nine out of 10 in the early 1990s. (Australian Academy of Science 2011) In 2013, less than one in 10 Year 12 students studied advanced maths. (AIG 2012)

As the Office of the Chief Scientist has made clear,

“… inspiring students to engage with mathematics and science can be best achieved by teachers who are passionate about the subject and have the knowledge and confidence to present the curriculum imaginatively.” (2012)

STEM-education-in-practice

Teach For Australia is a powerful model for attracting outstanding STEM graduates and professionals into teaching in schools serving low socioeconomic communities. There is considerable scope to expand Teach For Australia’s role in driving excellence in STEM education.

  • Teach For Australia runs specific recruitment and marketing strategies to target top STEM talent.
  • As an employment-based pathway, we reduce the opportunity cost of traditional pathways into teaching, a barrier for those with high earning potential.
  • Associates are immediately placed in schools serving low socioeconomic communities, a rapid injection of talent in contrast with other STEM initiatives.
  • Associates and Alumni quickly achieve leadership positions and propel innovation.

The independent evaluation of Teach For Australia by the ACER found that the marketing of the Teach For Australia program is encouraging graduates in areas of shortage to consider both teaching as a career and teaching in schools that often do not have access to high-quality graduates. (ACER 2013b)

For Cohort 2016, over 800 or 57 per cent of Teach For Australia applicants were STEM qualified. 47 per cent of Cohort 2016 Associates are placed to teach STEM, with over 40 per cent of those in regional or remote areas.

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