STEAM in schools
In the Flemish region of Belgium, the government and organisation of implementing STEAM in curricular contexts is done by the Ministry of Education. The government published an action plan concerning STEM implementation and STEM framework for Flemish schools (Department of Education, 2015). The action plan explains why education should focus on STEM and mentions some criteria for good STEM Education. However, the specific curricula, didactics and learning lines are set out by subsidised autonomous networks. These networks are (Nusche, et al., 2015):
- The Flemish Community education network (GO!), which is overseen by the Flemish Community government.
- The publicly funded, publicly run education network (OGO), which includes schools organised by provinces and municipalities. The city and municipal authorities are represented by the Educational Secretariat of the Association of Flemish Cities and Municipalities (OVSG) and the provincial authorities are represented by the Flemish Provincial Education (POV).
- The publicly funded and privately managed education network (VGO), which includes denominational schools, mostly catholic, as well as method schools, such as Freinet, Montessori and Steiner schools.
When it comes to the organisation of extracurricular STEAM initiatives, then the agency Flanders Innovation & Entrepreneurship is in charge. They have set out a system which is called STEM Academies. If an organisation meets certain criteria, it can get funding from the agency. Any organisation that wishes to work and communicate under the heading of a STEM academy can apply for recognition.
A STEM academy provides opportunities to create, experience, learn and collaborate around STEM. They focus on STEM literacy but also STEM speciality. Within a STEM Academy the same didactical criteria as in curricular settings need to be taken care of, that is, The STEM disciplines (“Science”, “Technology”, “Engineering” and “Mathematics”) are not used separately, but rather in an interdisciplinary and applied way to find solutions to real problems and challenges. In addition to substantive knowledge of the separate disciplines and their cohesion, participants also learn broader skills and attitudes such as problem based and innovative thinking, creative research and design, logical reasoning, teamwork and entrepreneurship. Other criteria are:
- The activities of the STEM academy should have an informal learning character.
- The focus should be on design and inquiry learning.
- In addition to STEM competence, other 21st century skills should be strengthened.
- An integrated STEM approach should be followed.
- Insights into the relevance of STEM in itself and for society should be provided.
(Flemish agency of innovation & entrepreneurship, 2021).
Here one can find all STEM Academies that organize extracurricular STEM trajectories: https://www.vlaio.be/nl/andere-doelgroepen/stemvlaio/stem-academies/erkende-stem-academies-tot-31-december-2021
Department of Education. (2015). STEM action plan and STEM framework for Flemish schools (2012–2020). Stem–KAdeR (Engels).pdf. vlaanderen.be
Flemish agency of innovation and entrepreneurship. (2021). https://www.vlaio.be/nl/andere-doelgroepen/stemvlaio/stem-academies/stem-academies. STEM Academies.
Nusche, D. et al. (2015). School education in the Flemish Community of Belgium. In OECD reviews of school resources. Flemish Community of Belgium. OECD Publishing.