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Science Skills Academy Progress Welcomed By Councillors

22nd August 2018

Progress on the development of the ground-breaking Science Skills Academy initiative in Highland has been welcomed by Members of The Highland Council's Care, Learning and Housing Committee.

Councillor Andrew Baxter, Chair of the Care, Learning and Housing Committee said: "I commend the work that the Science Skills Academy is achieving in bringing exciting opportunities for young people to experience the applicability of STEM subjects.

"I have personal experience in that my daughter took part in a Newton Room type activity and was particularly enthused. This is encouraging and I am especially interested to see how the Science Skills Academy will attract girls into STEM studies which is one of their key challenges.

"We must commend Drew Hendry MP when as former Leader of The Highland Council, he made a considerable contribution in assisting and driving this project forward in its early days."

Councillors were updated by Science Skills Academy Project Director, Andrew Johnston of Highlands and Islands Enterprise on the efforts aimed at increasing the number of young people taking up opportunities in life science, renewable energy and digital technologies.

Mr Johnston highlighted the ongoing works to establish a network of Newton Rooms in Highland - outlining the current developments in Lochaber at Caol and Caithness at North Highland College. He explained that in addition to the creation of Newton Rooms the Science Skills Academy's other aims are to align STEM activity in the Highlands and to attract more STEM employers to the region.

He said: "We think that no one else in the country is doing anything like the Newton Rooms initiative and there is a real appetite from Government to watch the progress."

He added: “While it is the intention that each Newton Room, will be used to focus on engagement with P6 - S2 pupils it is also hoped that the rooms will be used out of school hours by the community for health science, energy and engineering, life science, land use, marine science, and computing."

The Science Skills Academy Initiative was conceived as a collaboration between The Highland Council, Skills Development Scotland, The University of the Highlands and Islands and Highlands and islands Enterprise. All partners have an interest in STEM promotion among young children.

The City-Region Deal committed the Scottish Government to provide a funding package of up to £135m, the UK Government up to £53m, and local partners, the Highland Council, Highlands and Islands Enterprise, the University of the Highlands and Islands and Albyn Housing Society Limited up to £127m. This £315m funding is to be allocated over a 10 year period commencing from the date of signing of the deal.

As part of The City-Region Deal - £3m was committed in January 2017 for the Science Skills Academy to promote the programme.

Further information on the Science Skills Academy is available at www.scienceskillsacademy.co.uk

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