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Are specialist STEM teachers the answer?

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With talk of some States planning to train generalist primary school teachers as STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) specialists, to improve overall maths and science results, some experts in the sector are questioning the move. The push to improve STEM results comes on the back of news that internationally, Australia sits behind Vietnam, Poland and Estonia on maths in the latest round of the PISA tests.

The argument for specialist STEM teachers is based on the need to prepare students for future growth in science and technology careers within the economy – both domestically and globally.

While many agree this is necessary, they also argue the best way to deliver maths and science teaching is through the professional development for primary teachers, rather than bringing in specialist teachers.

By staying with generalist teachers across all subjects, there may be greater opportunities to meaningfully integrate information across all subjects into everyday school life – while placing value on each area of study.

Some experts also believe that introducing specialist STEM teachers can set up the belief in students that these subjects are specialist subjects, only for specialist people.

While the jury is still out on the wisdom of putting specialist STEM teachers into primary school classrooms, there seems to be a general consensus that it is vital to encourage more students to study these subjects as they more into high school and university.

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