Dealing with an increasingly complex reality in class is a development which has accelerated in the last years and puts high demands on teachers. Thus, teachers need support through professional development (PD) activities to adopt new integrative methods. This need is particularly pronounced in STEM teaching (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics), since STEM is a field in which all pupils, including migrants or those from disadvantaged backgrounds, should acquire appropriate skills in order to ensure their participation in work and life.
Nowadays, the need for high-quality STEM teacher PD and the promotion of approaches that allow teachers to deal with complex classroom realities has been recognized. This can also be seen in policy documents and reports such as the science education report (Science Education for Responsible Citizenship, European Commission 2015). It is also evidenced by the recent trend in Europe to establish PD centres to promote STEM teacher PD. However, these PD centres were not connected to each other and did not exchange experiences. Hence, the aim of the European Network of STEM Professional Development Centres (STEM PD Net) is to strengthening the position, work and knowledge base of STEM PD centres across Europe: through transnational exchange and mutual learning in a stable European PD centre network, through linking research with practice, through developing ready-to-use guidelines and reference materials for STEM PD providers. This will also contribute to improving the quality and relevance of STEM teacher PD on a large scale.
That is the essence of our project STEM PD Net, funded by Erasmus+ KA2 (Key action for ‘Cooperation for Innovation and the Exchange of Good Practices’). The project is coordinated at the International Centre for STEM Education (ICSE) of the University of Education Freiburg, Germany.