Media release: Specialising in maths and science adds up

Capturing the mind of the primary school student requires imagination, great skill and specialised teaching.

In the wake of increased pressure on schools to engage students with science, technology, engineering and mathematics, (STEM) a group of Universities, led by the University of Melbourne, is re-thinking the role of school teachers in these specialist areas.

Recconceptualising Mathematics and Science Teacher Education Programs (ReMSTEP) is a three-year project aiming to deliver new teacher education practices that match contemporary mathematics and science with innovative and engaging teaching practice.

Led by Professor Stephen Dinham within the Melbourne Graduate School of Education and working closely with collaborators at Deakin, Monash and LaTrobe Universities, ReMSTEP will immerse pre-service (student) teachers into specialist maths and science training so they can deliver the highest quality teaching to young students.

"We know students' interest in science and mathematics is declining but Victoria is leading the charge forward. The best time to really engage with and cultivate a love of maths and science is in the primary classroom," Professor Dinham said.

"This program will allow us to increase the quality and readiness of graduate teachers, with a focus on the introduction of new science and maths course electives and learning pathways."

The partnerships and programs will drive major improvements in the quality of mathematics and science learning and teaching by creating programs where undergraduate STEM students and pre-service teachers work collaboratively across faculties and specialist centres to create new materials, units of study and expertise in inquiry-based classroom practices.

Minister for Education The Hon James Merlino said the establishment of ReMSTEP is a significant investment in the future.

"High quality learning and teaching is critical for driving practice and policy change.

The Andrews Labor Government recently announced some exciting STEM-related initiatives as part of Education State Reforms. The STEM Catalysts program will build on our existing strengths and train 60 teachers across 30 schools to become STEM 'catalysts'- experts who can inspire fellow teachers to bring STEM alive for students in Years 7 and 8, he said.

"We also recently announced $27 million for 200 primary maths and science specialists to work with students in over 100 of Victoria's most disadvantaged primary schools. And

our ten new Tech Schools will be high-tech centres of learning excellence right across Victoria." Minister Merlino said. 

The first annual ReMSTEP conference being held in Melbourne will examine the current state of science and mathematics teaching.

www.remstep.org.au