A Stirling school’s success in raising attainment in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) has earned it national recognition and praise from a Scottish Government Minister.
Picture shows the young people at McLaren High who are heading to Silicon Valley this summer as part of their STEM education, alongside staff, Council officials and the Minister.

Richard Lochhead, Minister for Further Education, Higher Education and Science, discovered how McLaren High is leading the way in this important part of the curriculum during a visit to the Callander-based school this week.

McLaren is the only secondary school in Scotland to be shortlisted in the STEM category for the Scottish Education Awards on 5 June.

This is testament to the school’s innovative approaches to STEM education, which has enabled pupils to develop key skills, pick up a string of major accolades and enhance their knowledge of potential careers in a fast-growing part of the economy.

For the next part of this ambitious project, the school is aiming to be the first in Scotland to offer every young person, from fourth to sixth year, the opportunity to travel to Silicon Valley in Northern California - the global centre for high technology and innovation.

In June, the first 40 pupils from McLaren will head there to visit a range of top tech companies including Intel, Google and Pixar.

Thoroughly impressed by the pupils and staff

Mr Lochhead said: “The efforts of McLaren High School to offer pupils the chance to develop skills and awareness of Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) subjects are vital to opening their eyes to the rewarding STEM career opportunities available to them later in life.

“I was thoroughly impressed by the pupils and staff and congratulate them on their well-deserved success. I am sure Scotland’s science and technology reputation is in safe hands for future generations.

“It is essential that we engage and include young people from all walks of life, regardless of gender or social background, to develop STEM knowledge and skills so they are equipped to live in our technology-dependent world.

“This is a great example of how projects like this, and our five year STEM Strategy, are driving improvement in STEM across the education and training landscape and enriching pupils lives.”

McLaren High’s recent achievements in STEM include:

  • Attracting more than 500 visitors and industry experts to the school’s inaugural STEM festival in 2018, with over 50 individual pupil projects on show
  • Having more finalists than any other school at the Big Bang Fair, a UK-wide competition held in Birmingham earlier this year.
  • Being crowned UK champions at the 2018 Tomorrow's Engineers EEP Robotics competition. 
  • Creating a fully resourced STEM hub where pupils can work on their own projects
  • Engaging with local primary schools and helping to run robotics and poster competitions via STEM Pupil Ambassadors
  • Developing and successfully launching a balloon into near-space, reaching an altitude of over 100,000 feet. 

Developing STEM knowledge and literacy

Marc Fleming, Headteacher at McLaren High School, said: “I am really proud that McLaren High School has been taking innovative approaches in developing STEM knowledge and literacy, which dovetails with the Scottish Government’s bold and ambitious programme to promote science and innovation.

“The school is delighted that Richard Lochhead, the Minister for Further Education, Higher Education and Science, has taken the time to come and visit our young people and staff, and to see first-hand how we have been taking forward our sector leading programme in STEM subjects.”

The school, which has a roll of 618 and serves a large rural area, is committed to tackling gender imbalances and other inequalities such as geography that can inhibit progress in STEM education and training. In its recent HMIe inspection, its approach to STEM learning was highlighted as an area of strength.

Enthusiasm and innovation of the young people

Convener of Stirling Council’s Children and Young People Committee, Cllr Susan McGill said: “To be the only secondary school in the country to be shortlisted in the STEM category at the Scottish Education Awards is another measure of McLaren High’s incredible success in these important inter-related subjects.

“This has only been achieved by the dedication and leadership of staff at the school and the enthusiasm and innovation of the young people. A huge congratulations to all.”

Vice Convener of the Children and Young People Committee, Cllr Margaret Brisley said: “McLaren High are blazing a trail on a national level when it comes to developing initiatives in this crucial part of the curriculum.

“I am hugely impressed by the work of staff and young people at the school in STEM learning, and it would be thoroughly merited if they earned further recognition on 5 June.”

Picture details and background information:

Picture shows the young people at McLaren High who are heading to Silicon Valley this summer as part of their STEM education, alongside staff, Council officials and the Minister. Front (from left) Marc Fleming, Headteacher at McLaren High School; Tracey Allan, Physics Teacher; Scott Farmer, Stirling Council Leader; Richard Lochhead, Minister for Minister for Further Education, Higher Education and Science; Helen Gorman; Team Leader Schools and Learning Stirling Council; Martin MacMillan, Curriculum Leader for Maths and ICT at McLaren High. Pictures should be credited to Whyler Photos/Stirling Council.

The Scottish Government published its STEM Education and Training Strategy on 26 October 2017. Its ambition is to build Scotland's capacity to deliver excellent STEM learning, and to close equity gaps in participation and attainment in STEM. It also aims to inspire young people and adults to study STEM, and to provide a better connection between STEM education and training and the needs of the labour market in Scotland.

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