Helen Winton: Head of STEM Engagement.

In the short article below, Helen tells us more about her career to date and the ambitions that she has for this new career opportunity.

What did you do prior to starting to work in SSERC ?

I originally qualified as a Biology teacher in N.Ireland and taught both there and in Australia whilst I was in my twenties. I then spent 4 years working in the aquaculture industry in Ireland, Scotland and Canada. In 2001, after 5 years of classroom teaching with Falkirk Council, I was seconded as an Education Officer to support Science and Environmental Science. Then, after a short period at Learning & Teaching Scotland, I took up a Development Officer post at Stirling Council, with responsibility for Senior Phase & STEM.

What role did you have within SSERC before moving to this post?

I started working for SSERC in March 2016, initially as a consultant and then as an Adviser. I worked with the STEM Ambassador programme and played a key part in securing the GTCS Quality Mark for a Professional Learning Organisation award for the company. I was delighted to be appointed Head of STEM Engagement in December 2018.

What are the specific responsibilities associated with this post?

I continue to work as the liaison lead for the three STEM Ambassador Hubs in Scotland and promote the use of these invaluable volunteers to all teachers passing through SSERC on our range of professional learning courses. I also work closely with STEM Learning on the promotion of STEM Insight (teacher placements in businesses of higher education), the Polar Explorer Programme and am in the early stages of setting up ENTHUSE partnerships. From early 2019 I will be working closely with the newly appointed Young STEM Leader team.

What appealed to you about this particular post ?

Scotland is really fortunate to have educational strategies and policies that actively support and promote wider STEM Engagement. Doors are increasingly open to active dialogue and support for our young people both in the formal education settings and through community based activities. I feel very privileged to be in a position to broker some of these partnerships.

What do you think will be the main challenges for you in this new post?

SSERC have been tasked as the lead organisation for progressing the Young STEM Leader programme, as detailed in the STEM Education & Training Strategy. I think this is the greatest challenge but also the most exciting as, within a defined and fairly tight timescale, a programme must be delivered. It will require a considerable amount of hard work and collaboration from all partners involved and I feel honoured to be working with the dedicated team that will put this opportunity in place.

What are your hopes and ambitions for SSERC and yourself in this new and exciting role?

SSERC is a small organisation in terms of number of employees but it has a big name in Scotland and is well known and respected for its quality services. With expansion into digital our offer will be available to a much wider audience. I am really interested to see where we can go and what we can do with this.

Within SSERCs Mission, Vision and Values statement I most identify with the value of Passion: What we do we do with enthusiasm. Through example, we really can energise, engage and inspire others and I look forward to playing my part in this.