Building a new educational framework to address the STEM skills gap: a fundamental review from a 21st century perspective

This project was funded by the Scottish Funding Council (SFC).  The core project team were Moira Finlayson, Michael Guy and Alan Roach, with useful contributions also from Nigel Akam and Robert Risk.

The project was designed to describe and exemplify a new approach to STEM education in the post-school setting, for adult returners to education recruited by colleges looking to progress to higher education or to employment in a STEM environment. The aims were as follows:

  1. to design an exemplar new-style 1-year FT post-school course "Access to STEM,"suitable for progression to first year off a university degree in any STEM subject
  2. to sketch a corresponding platform and course exemplar at SCQF level 5, geared for technical apprenticeship entry, though also suited for progression to level 6
  3. to make general recommendations for potential redesign of SCQF level 7 courses, in tune with the skills led approach
  4. to engage with stakeholders on the emerging proposals and recommendations and produce reports

All of these outcomes were met, with further work on engagemeent (aim 4) continuing (see the "follow up" note below).

Stages 1-4 of the project have been completed, the report has been produced and printed in two volumes. The main report is entitled Building a New Educational Framework to Address the STEM Skills Gap and there is a separate volume with Annexes A and B containing the science storylines and the teaching units.

The project Report


An Executive Summary from the Report, and the full Report itself, and its separate Annex can be accessed using the links below:

Follow up


On-going work is underway to support a rolling implementationof the approach developed during this project. This is described under the Access to Stem tab (accessed from the left hand panel of this screen).

Useful links

Useful links

A Curriculum for Excellence

The Scottish Curriculum Review Group published the "A Curriculum for Excellence" report in November 2004 and this can be accessed at  A Curriculum for Excellence.

Parallel developments in the USA:  A Framework for K-12 Science Education

The STEM educational challenges faced in Scotland are experienced similarly across the developed world.  In the case of the USA such problems have been recognised since the 1970s, and are seen as an ever more concerning and growing threat to future national prosperity.  In August a major Report from the National Science Board (linked to the National Science Foundation) has issued a comprehensive national “action plan” to address this issue.  This is launched for consultation in the first instance, but prescribes steps that start by specifying Congressional legislation to establish a range of new national bodies, and many believe that there is sufficient support in  both the Congress and the White House for this to be taken up.  The Report focuses throughout on STEM education as a whole, and for the full age range from kindergarten onwards.  The bodies proposed, that would set new guidelines and develop new materials, represent the full stakeholder community and could be seen as a STEM-ED Scotland model on a huge scale and at an official level.  The report is available for free download at: