School Leadership eCollection

Mathematics, Engineering and Science in the national interest

Australian Government, Office of the Chief Scientist

Document type:

This report to the Australian Government by the Office of the Chief Scientist notes that there is a global perception that a workforce with a substantial proportion educated in Mathematics, Engineering and Science (MES) is essential to future prosperity. Australia’s graduation rates in MES  are low by international comparison, yet a high output in these disciplines is seen to be a critical underpinning for the future of innovative economies. Policies are emerging around the world that focus on science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields and seek to grow the supply of graduates with the skills and knowledge developed through a quality education in the STEM subjects. This is because the world’s dependence on knowledge and innovation will grow and not diminish and to be ahead in the race, a community needs the skills to anticipate rather than follow.

The report identifies five key areas that need to be addressed in the Australia education sector and presents recommendations for each. These recommendations focus largely on schools as the authors note this is where most students clearly identify their future study options, and on teachers, who have the greatest influence on the choices students make. The authors further note that while universities need to examine how they offer science and mathematics to their students—especially in the early years—the school sector needs to maximise interest and provide opportunities for all students to study high quality mathematics and science leading to careers in those disciplines and in engineering. [Report]

This research informed the development of resources in AITSL’s Teacher Toolkit.