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In 2015, all Australian education ministers agreed to the National STEM School Education Strategy 2016–2026, which focuses on foundation skills, developing mathematical, scientific and digital literacy, and promoting problem solving, critical analysis and creative thinking skills. The strategy aims to coordinate current activities, and improve STEM education. The Australian Government is the lead for two of the twelve national collaborative actions under the Strategy, as outlined below.
Action A: STEM Partnerships Forum
In 2017, the STEM Partnerships Forum was established as one of the key national collaborative actions under the National STEM School Education Strategy 2016-2026. Chaired by Dr Alan Finkel AO, Australia's Chief Scientist, the Forum brought together leaders from industry and education to facilitate a more strategic approach to school-based partnerships with businesses and industry across Australia in order to develop the engagement, aspiration, capability and attainment of students in STEM.
The Forum Chair delivered a final report to Education Council in April 2018.
The report contains recommendations for industry, education and government and focuses on three key areas of work:
- industry's role in supporting teachers and teacher professional development
- awareness of the range of careers available for people with STEM skills and knowledge required to take advantage of these opportunities
- understanding and measuring the outcomes and impacts of partnerships.
Education Council endorsed a formal response to the STEM Partnerships Forum report in June 2019. The response thanked the Forum members for their work and noted that the report informed the development of the National School Reform Agreement between the Australian Government and all states and territories. It also provided details about actions at the national and state and territory level that address the Forum's recommendations.
Action L: Sharing and synthesising research and evaluation findings
In June 2019, Education Council endorsed a report on the national collaborative action: Share and synthesise research and evaluation findings to identify successful STEM interventions and inform school practice.
The report analysed initiatives in terms of various characteristics, including the type of intervention, targeted group and scale, and included evaluation findings where available. A key finding was that, although many of the initiatives had evaluations planned, there was very little robust data on which to assess the outcomes of the initiatives. The report recommended that the exercise be repeated in 2-3 years to gather more information from future evaluations.
The related detailed program summaries illustrate the wide variety of STEM initiatives across Australia.
National STEM School Education Resources Toolkit
The Australian Government Department of Education commissioned Dandolopartners International to develop the National STEM School Education Resources Toolkit in response to a STEM Partnerships Forum recommendation.
The aim of the National STEM School Education Resources Toolkit is to assist schools and industry to establish new STEM initiatives, form school-industry partnerships, and evaluate existing and future STEM initiatives.