UK’s first summer STEM training academy launched by UWS

The University of the West of Scotland has launched the academy to encourage students and teachers to delve further into STEM subjects

University of the West of Scotland (UWS) has launched the UK’s first Summer STEM Academy, which brings together academics, secondary school pupils and student primary teachers from more than 11 different Scottish local authorities to take part in a jam-packed two-day STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) training event. 

Hosted at UWS’ Paisley campus on the 10th and 11th of July, the fully-booked programme gave student primary teachers and secondary school pupils the opportunity to learn from STEM academics and industry specialists to develop their own projects which they can deliver to primary school children. 

Speaking at the event was Paisley-born Scottish inventor and UWS honorary graduate, James Goodfellow OBE, who in 1966 patented the first ATM machine and created the personal identification number (PIN).

Pupils were also equipped with the skills to run STEM activities within their own schools, and are eligible to be put forward for a newly-created UWS Scotland ‘PRIDE’ Award (Personal Recognition in Development of Academic and Community Engagement), which recognizes the work they’ve carried out to promote STEM in their local communities. 

Stephen Scholes, Acting Deputy Head Teacher at Auchenharvie Academy, said:“The UWS Summer STEM Academy is an exciting and truly collaborative initiative between schools, university staff, students and industry partners which will support our learners to deepen their understanding of STEM subjects and to return with the skills and confidence to be STEM ambassadors in the school and wider community.”

“The STEM Academy model allows for all involved to become increasingly confident in the STEM arena, beginning a chain reaction that will see STEM education flourish in and beyond schools.”

The STEM Academy model allows for all involved to become increasingly confident in the STEM arena, beginning a chain reaction that will see STEM education flourish in and beyond schools.
– Stephen Scholes, Auchenharvie Academy

The initiative, which was developed by academics within UWS’ School of Education, is a training model which other organisations within the higher education sector across the UK are now looking to replicate.   

Also in attendance and presenting at the event was the winning team from this year’s UWS Mission Discovery programme, which saw around 200 pupils and students take part in a week-long STEM event at the Paisley campus, competing for the opportunity to have their science experiments sent to space and tested by astronauts on the International Space Station.

Professor Craig Mahoney, Principal and Vice-Chancellor of UWS, said:“The initiative’s aim is to raise the aspirations of pupils to consider STEM subjects, and to widen the access they have to higher education, highlighting that university can be accessible to all.” 

“The Summer STEM Academy is an exciting and unique opportunity for a mix of students from all stages of education to learn and share in their experiences of STEM together, listen to inspiring speakers such as James Goodfellow, and build vital skills and connections that will greatly benefit them later in life.”  

In terms of the impact on primary teachers, Stuart Naismith, teacher at Greenhill Primary School in North Lanarkshire commented:“The UWS Summer STEM Academy will bring huge benefits to the student primary teachers in attendance, and will provide them with a deeper insight into using STEM activities in the classroom, and how to contextualise learning with the many career opportunities STEM presents.”

“In my experience, my confidence in STEM grew through working in partnership with university lecturers, just as the students have been able to during this event.”

The UWS Summer STEM Academy is hosted in partnership with University of St Andrews, The University of Edinburgh, F1 in Schools, Denford, Royal Society of Chemistry, Science@Cwaben, Data Harvest, Timstar, The Solar Spark, Highland Council and Balnain Primary School.