​Turnbull's AU$1m IT summer school initiative goes to tender

The federal government has kicked off the search for an organisation to implement its AU$1 million STEM-focused Summer School idea.

The Australian Department of Education and Training has gone to tender to find an organisation to deploy its IT Summer School initiative.

According to the federal government, the AU$1 million summer school initiative supports its "Inspiring all Australians in digital literacy and STEM" measure, which seeks to increase the participation of Australian children in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education and improve their digital literacy.

Instead of targeting students excelling in STEM, the government said the summer school initiative is for students in years 9 and 10 and will be focused on those who may not have considered a career in STEM, as well as students who may be disadvantaged in some way.

According to the request for tender, this means students with a disability, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students, students from low socio-economic families, and those from rural or remote areas.

Through this initiative, the government also wants to increase the interest and participation in STEM by female school students, saying they are "typically under-represented" in STEM-related jobs.

Among other contract obligations, the successful organisation will develop appropriate strategies for identifying, targeting, and engaging those disadvantaged students and those students who are most at risk of not benefiting from the Australian curriculum.

It is expected the initiative will begin this year and run annually for four years with a minimum of 60 students participating each year. A small fee is to be collected from participants, and the summer workshop must run for a minimum of four nights and three days. Each student will be partnered with a suitable industry mentor for a minimum period of five months, which must operate between the initial summer residential workshop and the concluding winter residential workshop, the request for tender states.

The summer school initiative was announced in December and forms part of the government's AU$1.1 billion National Science and Innovation Agenda.

When handing down the agenda, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull split it into four key areas, of which Talent and Skills was allocated a AU$110 million investment, across 10 STEM-based measures.

With the slogan "Best and Brightest", the Talent and Skills umbrella focuses on four measures: Equipping young Australians to create and use digital technologies; expanding opportunities for women in STEM; improving visa arrangements; and inspiring STEM literacy.

The summer school tender is the second to be released this week by the Department of Education after it published an official request to find an organisation to deploy its AU$6 million Early Learning STEM Australia (ELSA) pilot program on Wednesday.

ELSA is expected to provide the opportunity for young children to explore an online, play-based learning environment, which the government wants delivered through a series of mobile applications for tablet devices that are heavily STEM-based and will be used by preschool programs across the country.

In February, Turnbull also announced an AU$8 million initiative that he hopes will give 350,000 preschool children "a head start" in their careers.

The funding is slated for Little Scientists, a not-for-profit initiative of Froebel Australia and the Smith Family's Let's Count program, which will both receive AU$4 million to target children aged three to six years old to build their curiosity for STEM.

At the time, Turnbull said both programs hope to provide young students with a new way of engaging with STEM subjects, which will help underpin Australia's competitiveness in the future.