YPI Scotland

Comhairle nan Eilean Siar (CnES) has appointed Maria Finnegan as its Primary Science Development Officer (PSDO) to deliver the RAiSE programme.

The programme had previously been delivered by Catriona Gilchrist who sadly passed away in February 2022.

Maria will work across the islands to empower teachers with the skills, confidence, and networks to develop and deliver motivating and engaging STEM experiences.

Trish MacLeod, Executive Headteacher (Lewis Rural Schools) and Strategic Lead for RAiSE, said:

“A warm welcome to Maria in this role. Maria will build upon the legacy of Catriona’s amazing work in establishing this programme across the islands.

“STEM learning is incredibly important across the Western Isles and we are proud to be involved with a programme that will inspire and excite our youngest learners.”

RAiSE (Raising Aspirations in Science Education) is a programme of The Wood Foundation, Scottish Government, Education Scotland, and participating local authorities.

Maria said:

“As a teacher myself, I understand the potential for STEM learning but I also understand the nervousness, as well as the lack of ready access to resources, training, and networks to deliver that in a way that is impactful while considering many other priorities. I am looking forward to working with schools to support them on their STEM journey, harnessing youngster’s natural curiosity and developing our STEM ambassadors of the future.”

Twenty two of Scotland’s 32 local authorities have now benefitted from the investment which funds the placement of PSDOs for a two-year period to develop a strategy, action plan, build networks and partnerships, develop resources, and deliver professional learning, acting as a central point of contact for STEM learning locally.

Through recent surveying, more than 80% of practitioners said the programme challenged pupils in their learning, and that they had received support for developing pupils’ skills for learning, life, and work. They also said pupils’ aspirations had increased and that they had received support to build their own confidence, skills, and knowledge of STEM.