Case Studies

Glasgow Schools 3D Printing Programme

Glasgow Schools 3D Printing Programme
2017 - 2018


Case Study

In April 2017 Glasgow City Council developed a 3D Printing programme for early years, primary and secondary establishments with the aim to raise attainment and achievement through teaching technology. There was a high lack of confidence from teachers in covering this area of the curriculum with many practitioners wishing for there to be wider variety of technology CLPL that covered more than coding and digital literacy. In its first year the programme reached 30 establishments across Glasgow working with learners from as young as 2 years old to the latter stages of secondary. Teacher feedback from the programme has been overwhelmingly positive with over 90% of practitioners feeling more confident when teaching technology as well as multiple schools investing in their own 3D printer to use long term with students. It was evident from the work learners produced that the programme supports authentic learning (such as learning through play and tinkering) while encouraging all learners to build upon their skills for life, learning and work.



Data collected from practitioners across early years, primary and secondary sectors during the National STEM Project identified a 40% low confidence in teaching technology. This data was in line with the national average and these results have been reaffirmed through evaluations taken at various STEM Glasgow CLPL sessions and the findings from the Aspires Report. To help tackle this issue Glasgow City Council invested in 15 3D Printers and developed a programme mapped to the Curriculum for Excellence that would be offered to establishments across the city.

The programme was developed with a cluster approach in mind to both support and improve collaboration between establishments and raise teacher confidence and pupil attainment across sectors. Headteachers from all establishments in a school cluster were contacted ahead of the start of the programme inviting their school to take part. Once confirmed a member of staff was invited to a half day training CLPL event. During this session practitioners were shown how to operate the printer, use 3D CAD modelling software and given details on the 4 progressive challenges available for schools to complete.

One of the aims of this project was to encourage engagement and progression in the Technology experiences and outcomes. The Technologies curriculum has always been heavily linked to the economy and the world of work so a main focus of this programme was to have strong ties to Developing the Young Workforce. This was done through the incorporation of a DYW lesson in each challenge in which learners looked at different careers which use design and 3D modelling. The lessons in each challenge also provided learners with multiple opportunities to build upon their skills for life, learning and work. Although the programme has resources and activities mapped to the curriculum, schools were encouraged to use the printer to support their planned learning. This allowed establishments to develop their own work, trial with learners and then share with the wider cluster.

All resources and equipment were provided during the half day CLPL session so that practitioners went back to school with everything they needed to get started. Ongoing support was given by the STEM Glasgow team (which consists of STEM - Principal Officer, STEM Development Officer and Primary Science Development Officer) through arranged school visits and an online Glow group.

Practitioners were evaluated at the beginning and end of the programme to measure the impact it had on teacher confidence and the wider approach to STEM in each school. It also provided an opportunity to highlight and share how the 3D printers were used to support learners across the cluster.



Over the course of the project data was gathered through staff evaluations to measure the impact and benefits the 3D printing programme has had at both a classroom and whole school level.

Practitioners have fed back that it supports authentic learning such as learning through play and tinkering as at the centre of each challenge/lesson a learner is given a genuine problem to solve that requires modelling the work of professionals. Working towards an solution called for learners to show creativity, collaboration and communication while gaining a deep understanding of both the problem and its possible solutions. Practitioners agreed that these skill building tasks allowed all learners regardless of age or stage to showcase and develop their own abilities and knowledge at a pace that suited the individual.


‘Allowing the children to draw their design and have the opportunity to watch it print into a 3D Model was excellent. The language we got from the children was fantastic and the children felt a sense of achievement and ownership’

                                                                                                    Early Years Team Leader, Glasgow City Council


‘The programme as a whole as great to use as a focus of IDL as it covered so many areas of the curriculum. There has been a genuine enthusiasm for the printer across all stages within the school, especially among the teaching staff’

                                                                                                                     Class Teacher, Glasgow City Council


‘The training was very well structured and informative. The content of the programmes developed for pupils is excellent and I used a lot of this. I felt confident enough after the initial training but it was great to know that the STEM Glasgow team was available to support when necessary.’

                                                                                                                    Class Teacher, Glasgow City Council


One of the main benefits that was highlighted in the evaluations is that 3D Printing makes learning visual in a way that other areas of the curriculum are not. Visual learning in this context improves understanding by giving learners the opportunity to touch and see what they have designed.  It also encouraged learners to analyse and evaluate what they have made and troubleshoot problems as well as solve them. This is a skill that many students do not get to engage in other areas of the curriculum.  By learning how to identify and solve problems pupils are encouraged to practice persistence and resilience to overcome issues in their design process. This knowledge teaches learners that it is fine to fail for the first time and try again to get better.  When young learners understand that failure is part of the process, they are not afraid to attempt different ideas in other areas of their education and life.  Confidence is therefore built in these learners and teachers can enjoy the results of having self-motivated students.



By June 2018 30 establishments across 5 clusters had taken part in the programme with a further 71 establishments across 8 clusters already confirmed for the 2018/19 academic session. This has been made possible through financial support from the Wood Foundation in conjunction with the RAiSE (Raising Aspirations in Science Education) Project which allowed for more printers to be bought ensuring all establishments in even the largest clusters are able to take part.

By June 2019 42% of Glasgow establishments will have been invited to take part in the programme resulting in over 17,500 learners having had the opportunity to benefit from these technologies in school.

All establishments who took part in the programme had the printers for a minimum of 6 weeks and were invited to a Christmas celebration event at the Glasgow City Chambers. One of the challenges that the STEM Glasgow team developed asked pupils to design, model and print a Christmas Bauble that represented their school or wider community. These decorations were then displayed on the Christmas tree in the City Chambers for the festive season. 20 establishments were invited to the ceremony in December 2017 and brought over 40 decorations to be displayed. Local councillors and parents were also invited along to view the pupils work. A similar celebration event will be held in December 2018 with even more establishments expected to attend.

One of the greatest successes from this programme has been the enthusiasm from teachers to create their own resources that fit in with the curriculum. Some of these have included cookie cutters in early years, poppies for a remembrance wreathe in primary and an S2 entrepreneurial group.

To take part in the 2018 STEM Glasgow Christmas Bauble challenge then please click here.