Institute of Physics calls for major reform of STEM teaching in Ireland

The Institute of Physics (IOP) today called upon the members of the Oireachtas Education Committee to prioritise reforming the approach to the teaching of STEM subjects, especially physics, at primary, secondary and third level to ensure Ireland is well positioned to take advantage of the economic and societal opportunities of the future.

This request was made as the IOP, the largest professional body for physics in Ireland and the UK, appeared before the Oireachtas Committee on Education, Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science to discuss the future of STEM in Irish Education. The Committee invited the IOP along with representatives of bodies including Science Foundation Ireland, the Irish Research Council, the IDA, Enterprise Ireland, IBEC, ISME and the ESB to discuss and advise how the Irish education system should approach the teaching of STEM.

Commenting, Lee Reynolds, Co-Head of IOP Ireland and Northern Ireland said:

“Ireland does not have an education system for physics and STEM that is fit for purpose. If we do not address this gap, we risk losing considerable economic and societal opportunities.”

“One of the aims of the IOP in Ireland is to support the development of the next generation of high productivity industries to create high value jobs to safeguard citizens’ futures. These goals align strongly with government policy such as Industry 4.0, Impact 2030 and the Climate Action Plan.”

“These are goals that will not be fulfilled without skilled people from a strong education ecosystem, and we welcome the priority the Oireachtas Education Committee and its members are giving to the education of STEM subjects.”

The IOP believes that Ireland can be well positioned for the potential economic and social opportunities of the future. The building blocks of what is needed are:

—  A primary curriculum with numeracy and literacy at its core and STEM elements that teachers are empowered to deliver.
—  Whole school equity plans at every level to build a culture of inclusion to maximise the number and range of people pursuing physics.
—  A secondary physics curriculum that demonstrates the breadth and relevance of the subject delivered by specialist teachers receiving Continuing Professional Development (CPD).
—  21st century careers advice – a system that signposts the way to exciting, varied, and rewarding careers of today and keeps pace with the rapidly changing world of work.
—  New and growing apprenticeship options.
—  Proper PhD support.
—  CERN membership.
—  Supports to enter teaching.

“The IOP views the Oireachtas Education Committee’s work as the start of building a system fit for future purpose.”