Media release

Act now on STEM teaching crisis

May 10 2019

The Australian Academy of Technology and Engineering has welcomed a new report on the crisis in maths teaching but warns that the problem of out-of-field teachers extends across the entire STEM subject range.

The report, issued today by the Australian Mathematical Sciences Institute, argues that Australian secondary student numbers are expected to soar by over 650,000 as universities struggle to attract mathematics graduates to teaching.

Academy President, Professor Hugh Bradlow FTSE, said the report highlighted a long-term concern about maths being taught by teachers without suitable maths qualifications.

“But the issue goes much deeper,” he said. “We need to ensure high-quality, discipline-specific teacher training in all STEM subjects.

“The future prosperity of Australia will depend on embracing new technology to address critical national challenges.

“We will need a STEM-skilled workforce to be able to take full advantage of the opportunities this will bring.

“The Academy has put forward six science and technology priorities for the incoming federal government, where immediate action will result in significant benefit to Australia.”

The Academy’s recommendations on STEM education include:

  • Phasing out, as soon as feasible, the out-of-field teaching of STEM subjects in years 7 to 10.
  • Investing $20 million to enable all schools to have access to the Academy’s STELR (Science and Technology Education Leveraging Relevance) schools program, which has been demonstrated to increase the number of students undertaking senior STEM subjects via relevance-based, in-curriculum modules.
  • Preparing the workforce of the future for technology disruption by ensuring that school education encompasses both STEM and human disciplines and providing continuing education for those already in the workforce.

The Academy’s priorities can be read in full here.

For interviews, contact David Glanz on 0438 547 723 or email david.glanz@applied.org.au

The Australian Academy of Technology and Engineering is a Learned Academy operating as an independent, non-political and expert think tank that helps Australians understand and use technology to solve complex problems.