Minister for Education and Skills Joe McHugh T.D. today (Thursday 14th November) launched new guidelines to help schools and industry build deeper ties in relation to STEM subjects at DCU Lego Education Innovation Centre.
Guidelines for developing STEM School – Business/Industry Partnerships is a new resource to support schools and businesses and enterprise to kick-start engagement and develop long-lasting and sustainable partnerships.
Minister McHugh said: “The big target here is to promote students’ interest in STEM. One of the best ways to do that is to take it out of the text book and show young people the real-life opportunities and exciting challenges that jobs in STEM create.”
Children from Gaelscoil Eiscir Riada, Lucan and Scoil Bhríde, Leixlip joined representatives from Intel, Ibec, Fujitsu and Learnit to launch the guidelines using Lego robotics and a rocket balloon launch to demonstrate what they have learned through STEM.
Minister McHugh said: “The aim of these guidelines is to make it easier for schools and business and industry to connect and build strong ties. It will benefit the schools and students and it will benefit employers. Deeper connections with industry will inspire more of our young people to specialise in STEM subjects so as to unlock a better, smarter future for all.
“We can use industry links to show the real-life opportunities and the exciting challenges of STEM. Deeper engagement will help to nurture and developing the engineers and scientists of the future.”
Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation, Heather Humphreys T.D. said: “STEM School – Business/Industry Partnerships is a great example of innovative programmes built on partnership and foresight. This is exactly what Future Jobs Ireland encourages – the coming together of industry, education and Government to plant the seeds now to grow our economy into the future.
“One of the main pillars of Future Jobs Ireland is the enhancement of skills and the development and attraction of talent, with a view to driving innovation and technological change, driving productivity growth across the economy, and facilitating the transition to a low carbon economy. Ireland’s STEM skills base will be key to realising these objectives. This initiative, by promoting closer education-industry connections, will serve to highlight the opportunities of STEM careers to today’s students, inspire the greater take up of STEM disciplines, and ultimately enhance Ireland’s pipeline of talent in this crucial area.”
The guidelines were developed by the Department of Education and Skills in conjunction with the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation, Science Foundation Ireland the IDA, Ibec, American Chamber of Commerce and Enterprise Ireland.
The commitment was made under the STEM Education Policy Statement 2017-2026 and the Digital Strategy for Schools 2015-2020.
The guidelines and accompanying online toolkit provide the basis for both primary and post-primary schools and business/industry to form quality, inclusive and relevant educational links, which are aimed at improving the STEM/Digital learning experience and secure enhanced outcomes for all learners.
Minister McHugh said: “STEM education focuses on developing a range of essential key skills that are essential. By supporting schools to build partnerships with business and industry both young people and teachers will deepen their interest and confidence in STEM.
“Working with companies will show students that STEM is fun and creative while at the same time they get a practical view to key parts of the curriculum.
The guidelines detail the general priorities which should be established to ensure success in promoting meaningful and effective partnerships.
- Benefits for learning for children should be central to the partnership.
- There should be clear, tangible links to the curriculum.
- Industry must adhere to any relevant codes of practice in the school, including child protection, health and safety and GDPR.
- A teacher must be present at all times during interaction between children and business.
- The focus should be on transfer of skills and expertise with activities which are interactive, inclusive and appropriate for the audience.
- STEM projects should tap into what young people want – eg climate action; helping people with disabilities.
- The whole school community should buy-in to the partnership with the engagement highlighted online, among parents and the local community.
- One teacher should be the point of contact.
- Industry should be proactive in contacting schools and appoint an education liaison team or person and also provide financial support, like seed funding.
- Industry should also work to engage with parents as well as children and consider using mentors.
- Business should also be willing to connect using technology if travel distances are long.
- Businesses should ensure there is a balance of women and men engaged in the partnership and also employees from diverse nationalities and backgrounds.
The guidelines are available here: https://www.education.ie/en/The-Education-System/STEM-Education-Policy/stem-partnerships.html