From education to employment

Part-time contracts could boost sciences and SME start ups, says One NorthEast

A new document sent to the Government this month recommends an initiative to support the teaching of science, maths and technical subjects in schools.

Regional Development Agency One NorthEast and the North East Assembly jointly prepared the 20-page document as a response to the Comprehensive Spending Review (CSR) 2007.

The document, entitled “Creating the conditions for growth” recommends that One NorthEast work with the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) and the Department for Education and Skills (DfES) with graduates on part time contracts.

One NorthEast Chairman Margaret Fay said the initiative “would require backing from the DfES and local authorities funding graduate employment in schools”.

“Graduates could be employed for three days a week on a fixed term basis to provide support to the teaching of science, maths and technical subjects in schools,” she added. “They could use the remaining two days of the working week on helping develop science-based new business start-ups”.

And in response to criticism of the new GCSE science curriculum, Liberal Democrat Shadow Education Secretary, Sarah Teather, yesterday commented on the importance of good teachers: “Far too many chemistry and physics classes are being taught by people who are not specialists in the subject,” she said.

“Ministers need to match their fine words with concrete actions to turn around this chronic shortage of specialist science teachers”.

The document, which focuses on enterprise, innovation, employment & skills, and investment, looks at ways the CSR can help accelerate North East economic growth. Further devolution and the decentralisation of powers and responsibility are suggested, as well as the more efficient use and alignment of existing public expenditure.

“One of our aims is to establish over 7,000 new businesses by 2010, taking a major step towards one of the main productivity targets in the Regional Economic Strategy,” said Margaret Fay.

And in related news, over £50 million has been invested in a new science infrastructure, with funding from the North West Regional Development Agency (NWDA), among others.

The Daresbury Science and Innovation Campus (DSIC) was opened in September by Lord Sainsbury, Minister for Science and Innovation.

“I am delighted to be opening one of the UK’s two strategic centres of science and innovation”, he said. “This outstanding campus will help generate economic growth and jobs and support the Government’s drive to build and sustain world leading knowledge based companies”.

Annabel Hardy.

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