The Generation STEM team has made steady progress throughout 2019-20, such as increasing the focus on the rollout of the STEM Community Partnerships Program (STEM CPP), expanding to include new schools and additional classes for some schools continuing from 2019 and Year 10 cohorts. The team is also exploring new programs, establishing key relationships and partnerships and planning for 2021 activities. All while overcoming challenges presented by COVID-19 and operating in an increasingly complex program landscape.
In 2020, with the recruitment of new program staff, the team has successfully engaged more employers and mentors with STEM CPP, and the program has been extended to Year 10 students, some of whom participated in virtual work experience in December 2020. A shortlist of new programs has been developed for implementation under Generation STEM and work is underway for STEM CPP to expand to other local government areas in Western Sydney.
COVID-19 has presented challenges for the program in 2020. From April 2020, many schools moved to blended or online learning and all of STEM CPP's planned face-to-face events were either held virtually, postponed or cancelled. Despite this, the team has taken steps to ensure that STEM CPP participants continue to gain value from their participation. This includes a swift pivot to online delivery of teacher professional learning sessions and providing access to virtual events and activities for students and teachers. The team has established opportunities to collaborate with other programs.
A virtual showcase was launched in December 2020, with included posters and videos highlighting the student's work and achievements, as well as pre-recorded content involving local industry mentors and other stakeholders, including the SIEF Trustee, Minister for Skills and the Mayors of the two Council partners.
- Swift pivot to online delivery of industry engagement workshops and teacher professional learning.
- Interactive virtual showcase website highlighting student work and achievements and involvement of program partners.
- Established relationships with Regional Growth Development Corporation, Western Parkland & City Authority and TAFE NSW.
- Collaborated with other programs, including co-hosting advanced manufacturing webinar for students; leading hands-on TAFE YES+ session; developing student resources for the Regional Education Industry Partnerships program.
Challenges and learnings
- The key 2020 challenge for Generation STEM was working through the disruption caused by COVID-19 on schools and industry.
- The team quickly pivoted to online delivery but intends to alleviate any future disruption through early planning with schools and teachers.
- Activities in 2021 will be a mix of virtual and face-to-face delivery.
- The Council co-funding model for STEM CPP presented challenges which delayed the recruitment of new Councils, businesses and schools. The funding model has since changed, which will see more Councils participate from 2021.