Science and the Parliament 2016

On 9 November 2016, a group of IFST members from the Scotland Branch - Brian Wood, Christine Fraser (Food Training Scotland) and Jon Wilkin (Abertay University), along with Andrew Gardner (IFST’s Operation Director) - attended the 16th annual Science and the Parliament event organised by the Royal Society of Chemistry, on behalf of, and in cooperation with, the Scottish science and engineering community to foster close relations with the Scottish Parliament and Government.

The main focus of the event was on school education; however the effects on progression to Further and Higher Education were also considered.

The day began with an introduction from Professor Sally Brown (Chair of the Royal Society of Edinburgh), a welcome from Ken Macintosh MSP (Presiding Officer, Scottish Parliament) and an opening speech from Professor Sir John Holman (President of the Royal Society of Chemistry).

Professor Shelia Rowan (Chief Scientific Officer) addressed the attendees and spoke about the changes in policy within the STEM subjects and curriculums within primary and secondary education. We were given an update on the STEMEC report and then a heated debate about Teacher Recruitment and Retention took place.

The afternoon sessions focused on topics such as Interdisciplinary Learning; Colleges, Universities and Work; Gender and STEM; and Building Professional Capital. The lack of resources and courses in Scotland related to Food Technology was also discussed and the panel noted that the issue was not well known within Scottish and Westminster Governments.

We were then addressed by John Swinney MSP (Cabinet Secretary for Education and Skills) who shared his views of increasing innovation within industry and commented that this could only be considered by increasing STEM activities. After his speech, we were treated to a debate of Industrial Skills Requirements, and the prize giving of various societies, which was presented by Shirley-Anne Somerville MSP (Minister for Further Education, Higher Education and Science).

Overall, Science in Parliament 2016 was well organised event full of interesting debate and networking. It was a real pleasure to represent IFST at the local and national level and to be amongst other well-represented Societies and Institutes is something we as a group are very happy to participate in. We would like to showcase our institution at the next event and would look towards our members within Scotland to champion this in the future.  Please contact your Scottish Branch for further information.

Dr Jonathan Wilkin, Food Innovation @ Abertay