STEM refers to science, technology, engineering and mathematics. Occupations and careers that are reliant on the principles and concepts of these subjects have been gaining a lot of importance in recent years, and that will continue to be the case for years to come. In order to ensure that the youth of Australia excel in these subjects, to help cultivate an interest in studying these subjects, there will need to be an adequate supply of trained teachers in these subjects.
A study in 2015, showed that this is not necessarily the case. A rise in the number of students across Australia is now causing a significant discrepancy between this number and the number of available skilled teachers. Based on the report, the gap is expected to widen until 2020 – even without an additional increase in the student population. Another trend that was highlighted in the report was the fact that during the 10 years prior to the report, 2 out of every 10 teachers in primary schools were male. This gender balance also differs according to the subjects as three-quarters of physics teachers are male. 40% of these males, however, are over 50 and will therefore probably be retiring in the next 15 to 20 years. They also found similar statistics for the subjects of mathematics, chemistry, computing and IT. These numbers suggest an impending shortage of teachers in STEM-related fields, as they remain largely male-dominated subjects, once these teachers leave the teaching profession for retirement.
The New South Wales Audit Office released a report in January this year with similar findings. Insufficient numbers of qualified STEM teachers were attributed to an increase in student population, an ageing workforce and the reduction in the numbers of people entering the teaching profession. They also found high numbers of “out-of-field” teaching – a term used to describe a situation where teachers teach subjects that they were not familiar with. One-fifth of the teachers surveyed mentioned that they would teach out-of-field for at least five hours every two weeks. And this has played a role in the drop in student engagement.
Preventing the problem
With clear evidence to show that there is a lack of qualified STEM teachers, Australia must now try and combat the problem. The NSW audit recommended that their Department of Education work on ways to attract and retain teachers in the field. Some suggestions included investigation and adjustment to the current scholarship programs available. Others included better career pathways, monetary incentives and improved professional work environments.
Tapping on home-grown start-up companies is another way to move forward. Some Australian companies are now trying to help teachers with their administrative tasks, reducing the amount of take-home work, stress and more boring tasks teachers have to do.
STEMmates – Cultivating curiosity, imagination and passion
STEMmates is here to help with the problem. Our experienced teachers inspire students and encourage them to stay up-to-date with STEM – not just during our courses, but into their futures. Our courses are designed to stimulate the minds of young learners and keep them wanting to learn more, and hopefully, become teachers themselves in the future.
Find out how you get your child started on his STEM journey today by reading our Facebook and website pages.
It should come as no surprise that children who are encouraged and supported by their parents perform better than others. They also are able to succeed later on in life when they are studying as independent learners. Studies have shown that children with lower than average tend to raise themselves if their parents become involved in their education. It was also shown that children with a higher level of parental support proceeded to plan for further education. On the other hand, children who had little or no family support, typically received lower grades and in some cases, eventually dropped out of school.
The Australian Government’s view on parental engagement
The Australian Government fully supports the view that children perform better when parents are engaged in their education. Because of this, they are supporting several initiatives to encourage this. For example, the Learning Potential App and Learning Potential Resources are free tools that guardians can use to be a part of their child’s learning. They both support the Australian Curriculum for primary school. They are also working on a parent engagement project with the Australian Research Alliance for Children and Youth, which involves initiating the Australian Parent Engagement Network as well as the appointment of Local Champions. The Learning for Life Program is another initiative has seen an investment of AUD$48 million being made, in hopes of supporting 24,000 disadvantaged students to stay in school and prepare for their transition to higher education.
How to support young learners
There are a variety of ways that parents can support their children through their foundational years.
But, the key in all of this is to stay informed. Make sure you know what your child is up to in school. How are they performing and what should they be learning? How much do you know about your child’s syllabus? Are you able to help them if they need assistance with their homework, or do you need to engage the help of an external tutor or organization to help them when they face difficulties in school?
School websites usually have updates for parents about when testing dates are and staff contact information. Make sure you know your child’s teachers and are able to establish good communication channels with them. Try and stay connected to your child’s network. Do you know their friends and their friends’ parents? Take care of them at home. Send your children to school with nutritious meals and a good night’s sleep. Make sure that they are not constantly distracted by video games and The Internet before bedtime.
At STEMmates, we make sure that parents are kept up to date with their child’s progress. Teachers communicate children’s progress and parents are given context and feedback about their child’s performance in class. We strive to ensure that our children are well supported through their education and formative years. Get information about how your child can be a part of our STEMmates community today through our Facebook and website pages.
These days, with the variety of ways children can find information, it is not uncommon to hear how the internet has become a primary source for their information. There is now a huge amount of information available online, from websites to blogs, to forums and even social media. With such a huge realm of knowledge that is readily available to them, how then, can we make school and the classrooms as enticing to this data-hungry generation and keep them coming back to gain the necessary skills they will need as adults?
Growing up in today’s world can be challenging. Young people today have so much more on their plate than the generations of yesteryear. They feel a need to live up to social media standards, whilst taking on the challenge to learn difficult topics and curriculum and excelling in extra-curricular activities. Generation Z students – those born from the mid-1990s to the early 2000s – work with technology in the classroom, as well as technical terminology – and sometimes, the bigger picture can become blurred.