UK STEM education in need of reform, says report

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Another week, another call for something to be done about the UK's education system.

This time, it's a body called NEF, which describes itself as an educational charity and professional body for science, engineering and technology innovation. It recently published a report - Inventing the Future - based on consultations with more than 100 STEM based companies and concluded the UK's STEM education system is in need of 'complete overhaul'. The report says 'Outdated skills are still taught in the classroom ... new technology is often ignored'. It probably didn't take NEF too long to work out that STEM education in the UK isn't preparing students for the workplace. More important are the solutions and the NEF is calling, amongst other things, for the return of regional polytechnics. Here's the scale of the revolution for which the NEF is calling: • a curriculum that evolves to keep pace with changing trends and technology • open, flexible courses catering for students that want to follow a full curriculum and workers who want to top up their knowledge • students as active partners in collaborative learning • lecturers as coaches, rather than teachers • polytechnics acting and behaving as innovation hubs, carrying out applied research that will benefit companies in their region • study tailored to the needs of individual students • cross curricular STEM courses • students taking creative ownership of the learning process • significant emphasis on interactive learning Could this happen? It could, but it looks a long shot. Change in the UK has always taken place at a measured pace; change in the education world takes place even more slowly. Implementing a report that suggests tearing everything up and starting again - even if that is a reasoned suggestion - is unlikely to be at the top of the Secretary of State for Education's 'to do' list.