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IOP publishes priorities for next Scottish council terms

5 May 2022

As people across Scotland take part in local elections, the IOP has published a manifesto calling on councils to help unlock the potential of physics.

View the manifesto (PDF, 105KB)

As people across Scotland prepare to choose who will represent them and serve on the nation’s 32 local authorities, the Institute of Physics (IOP) becomes the first scientific learned society to publish a manifesto specifically for council elections.

Councils in Scotland spend over £22bn, equivalent to £4,000 per person, and have significant responsibilities to organise and deliver vital services, notably education. Yet the science community hasn’t previously focused on engaging with them specifically at election time.

The IOP works to ensure that we realise the full potential of physics to benefit society, from the technology needed to power our communities, connect digitally, and tackle global climate change. As administrations form after the local elections, the IOP is calling on councils to:

  • fund enough teachers, technicians, and equipment to provide a high-quality physics education;
  • help teachers improve by supporting them to have specialist teacher training focused on subjects, especially STEM;
  • work with local employers to provide science-based apprenticeships for all pupils who want them; and
  • tailor local business support services to encourage science-based businesses to grow.

The manifesto also reflects the priorities of the IOP’s Limit Less campaign, to encourage more girls and other underrepresented groups to choose to study or work in physics-related fields. This effort has become increasingly important following the controversial comments by Social Mobility Commission chair, Katharine Birbalsingh, to the Parliamentary Science and Technology Committee.

Alison McLure, Head of the IOP Scotland, said: “Physics can inspire children and young people across Scotland’s communities to understand the world around them, from the subatomic to the galactic. They can use the knowledge they gain to become part of a new generation of problem solvers and innovators, and the skills they develop to help make Scotland fit for a new industrial era of science, technology, and engineering. Crucially, these possibilities should be available to all young people who want them, irrespective of their backgrounds or social characteristics. We will need all available talent to tackle our biggest challenges.

“Councils have a crucial role in making this vision a reality. We look forward to working with the newly elected councillors and officials in authorities across the country to unlock this potential and build a brighter future.”

View the manifesto (PDF, 105KB)