Comment on Public Accounts Committee report on STEM skills

Kevin Courtney, Joint General Secretary of the National Education Union, has commented on a report published today by the Public Accounts Committee (PAC).

“As the PAC report highlights, the problems in attracting students into STEM subjects are of the Government’s own making. The increasingly narrow and academic school curriculum alongside EBacc and Progress 8 performance measures, have resulted in technical education being practically eradicated pre-16. This has had the effect of a reduced pipeline to STEM technical education post-16. Equally concerning is the Government's decision to unreasonably increase the amount of content as well as the difficulty of maths GCSE. This will discourage young people from taking maths post-16 and therefore contribute to STEM shortages.

“A shortage of STEM subject teachers is also a serious problem and needs to be urgently addressed. Financial incentives are not the answer. Government urgently needs to address the recruitment and retention crisis in the profession. The only way to do this is to make teaching an attractive career option, by reducing the unmanageable hours worked and paying teachers a fair wage for the vital work they do.

“The National Education Union has long argued against the Department for Education’s lack of concern about the poor quality of some apprenticeships. As the PAC report states this has been allowed to continue for too long. Young people deserve high quality apprenticeships that make a difference to their lives and career prospects. To be saddled with low quality schemes is a dreadful waste of their time and opportunities. It is high time that the Government recognised that they have it wrong and worked with the profession to achieve a clear vision for the education of all our children and young people, as well as ensuring the teacher recruitment and retention crisis is resolved.”



Press release
22 June 2018