Written by Eileen MacLeod

As Associate Regional Trainer and Verifier (ARTAV) for the Young STEM Leader Programme, I provide support and guidance to those delivering the award within the Northern Alliance council areas. I am based in the Additional Support Needs department at Charleston Academy within Highland Council and the ethos of the award programme is that it is accessible to all.

The programme is funded by the Scottish Government and led by the Scottish Schools Education Research Centre (SSERC), open to all young people in Scotland from Second Level upwards. 

Our aim is to raise awareness of STEM by inspiring young people to develop an interest in science, technology, engineering and maths and consider it as a future study option. It is so important that we encourage curiosity in STEM and encourage our young people to learn about the world around them in a fun and engaging way.

There are two versions of the Young STEM Leader Programme to choose from: non-formal and formal.  The non-formal version is offered for the Second, Third and Fourth BGE (Broad General Curriculum) levels and comprises of four digital badges (Discover, Create, Inspire and Lead). This is supported by a framework that identifies the skills, knowledge and behaviours of a Young STEM Leader at each level. 

Progression can be made from the non-formal into the formal version or a young person can go straight into the formal version which is available at SCQF Levels 4, 5 and 6. The formal version is credit rated and approved by the SQA. SCQF credit points and Insight tariff points are included within the formal levels of the programme.   

The programme relies on practitioners across Scotland signing up to become tutor assessors for the award in your setting. If you would like to learn more and sign up as an assessor then please consider joining one of our training sessions. This gives you a chance to learn about the programme in detail and access a range of resources to support your young people. The award is well structured and the materials are clear, logical and set out to minimise the workload for teachers.   

There are no costs involved in taking part in the programme and you can take part using the resources you already have at your setting so there is no need to buy in new equipment. The staff at SSERC also have the knowledge and skills to support you each step of the way. 

The programme really is a fantastic vehicle to allow pupils to gain the confidence and skills when applying to their chosen route for a positive and sustained future destination. We have already seen through work in other parts of the country that it can be used very effectively as part of the transition process from primary to secondary because it naturally lends itself to the task with senior pupils being able to assist younger pupils in the early stages of the non-formal awards. It also links well to other curricular areas, with pupils in my own setting working together to produce a display to highlight LGBT+ day in STEM.

In the time I have been involved with the award I have thoroughly enjoyed watching the young people I work with develop their skills and confidence. We have delivered the award in the classroom setting as well as virtually for our STEM club. At Charleston we are delighted that the pupils who take on a leadership role in STEM can now gain recognition through the programme. We have also found that it has been very accessible to our young people with additional support needs.  Pupils can take the next step after completing the YSL6 (SCQF Level 6) award to moving on to becoming a STEM Ambassador – if and when they feel ready for that role. 

I also enjoy working with the fantastic teachers who are involved with the award and look forward to working with all those ready to begin this journey within the Northern Alliance.

If you have any questions, please get in touch with me via email at eileen.macleod@sserc.scot and if you would like to sign up for training to become a tutor assessor please visit www.youngstemleader.scot/events

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