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Parliamentary debates and questions

S5W-06002: Jamie Greene (West Scotland)

Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party

Date lodged: 11 January 2017

To ask the Scottish Government whether it will provide an update on what action it is taking to promote (a) digital skills and (b) STEM subjects in schools.

Answered by: John Swinney 23 January 2017

In relation to digital skills, the Government and its partner bodies are working to equip all young people with the digital skills they need to thrive in modern society and the workplace, from basic digital literacy through to more specialist computing science disciplines, including the computational thinking and technical skills required in software development and coding.

Launched in September 2016, our new Digital Learning and Teaching Strategy brings together a number of actions to embed the use of technology in learning and teaching right across the curriculum. These include a commitment to refresh the experiences and outcomes in the technologies area of the curriculum to make them more relevant, ambitious and forward looking.

We are increasing the support for the teaching and learning of digital skills and providing new opportunities for learners. The Barefoot Computing programme, for example, gives primary school teachers access to a range of on-line teaching resource materials and workshops to enable them to deliver computing science and computational thinking learning across range of subjects; particularly maths and science. Older pupils can benefit from access to the wider range of relevant vocational qualifications offered by SQA and pathways such as the new Foundation Apprenticeship in Software Development introduced by Skills Development Scotland.

More broadly, to support digital skills development in line with industry needs, the Government has made £8.5 million available through the Digital Scotland Business Excellence Partnership. Achievements have included: the Digital World marketing campaign which aims to raise awareness of the opportunities and benefits a career in IT can bring; and Digital Xtra which provides young people with an opportunity to develop their digital skills through extra-curricular opportunities such as coding clubs and competitions.

With regards to STEM subjects in schools, the Government is investing in practical support for STEM teachers at both primary and secondary schools through the Scottish Schools Education Research Centre and the National Numeracy and Mathematics Hub and through the support for teaching and learning of STEM subjects provided by Education Scotland.

Our STEM education and training strategy, which is currently out to consultation, sets out our current activities in detail. It also sets out our plans for additional action to ensure young people are enthused and inspired to study STEM subjects at school and to continue their studies to obtain more specialised skills in the senior phase, after school and throughout their lives.