Government-backed STEM Ambassadors proven to have a positive impact
Successfully combatting the predicted STEM skills shortage, pupils are 90% more likely to be interested in continuing to study STEM subjects after engaging with Ambassadors
Nine out of ten UK secondary schools engage with STEM Ambassadors at least once a year to enhance enthusiasm and learning in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) subjects. At the House of Commons today, the results of independent research into the impact of this, and other, part government-funded programmes run by national educational charity STEMNET, were revealed to show that it has an overwhelmingly positive impact.
The findings were introduced by David Willets, Minister for Universities and Science, (BIS) and Elizabeth Truss, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State at the Department for Education (DfE).
STEMNET receives funding from BIS, DfE, the Gatsby Charitable Foundation and the Scottish Government. It inspires young people in STEM subjects in the face of a predicted STEM skills shortage that experts suggest will be extremely detrimental to the British economy. Research from the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) found that nearly two in five firms (39%) that need employees with STEM skills and knowledge currently have difficulties recruiting staff.
STEMNET runs three core programmes: the STEM Ambassadors programme, which brings volunteers working in STEM sectors into the classroom to stimulate young minds and enthuse them about STEM subjects and careers; STEM Clubs, to support teachers in taking pupils beyond the curriculum; and a STEM Advisory Network, to provide schools with help to deliver exciting STEM lessons and enrichment projects.
The report released today was carried out by the National Foundation for Educational Research (NFER), and looked at the impact of each of STEMNET’s programmes. It found that every school consulted in the research felt that STEMNET’s involvement had been of great benefit in the school.
Other key findings include:
- Pupils are 90% more likely to be interested in continuing to study STEM subjects after engaging with STEM Ambassadors
- After engaging with a STEM Ambassador, 76% of pupils think that Science is important for everyday life. 78% for Mathematics
- While 55% of pupils say they enjoy science, this rises to 80% for those who are in a STEM Club
- 37% of pupils say they want a job in STEM. This rises to 61% of pupils who are in a STEM Club
- 9 out of 10 teachers reported that STEM Ambassadors and STEM Clubs have resulted in increased awareness of STEM subjects and their real world application
- Over half of teachers reported that STEM Clubs have led to an increase in pupils attainment in STEM subjects
- The number of pupils interested in studying Engineering in the future increases by more than 100% for those that have engaged with STEM Ambassadors
- More than three quarters of teachers report that STEM Ambassadors have given students an increased awareness of STEM career and employment options
Just over half of teachers reported that they had experienced challenges in the wider delivery of STEM enrichment and enhancement activities in their schools. A lack of time was the most widespread challenge faced by schools, so the STEM advisory network and the extra resource of STEM Ambassadors can be a huge help.
The findings were published today at an event in the House of Commons, attended by leading figures in business, education, and STEM industries. At the event, STEMNET also unveiled an interactive digital guide stemnet-website/stemnetworks to its programmes, detailing the achievements and opportunities for further development that were uncovered by the NFER report.
Kirsten Bodley, CEO, STEMNET, commented,STEMNET is extremely proud of the achievements of all of its programmes, as reflected in the NFER evaluation findings. We have established successful programmes and we are a trusted partner, with tested and proven operating models.
“Our programmes work so well because they bring STEM to life, and are built on the generosity, dedication and enthusiasm of a huge network of individuals and organisations and support from Government. We want to express our gratitude for such support, and to learn from the evaluation report to develop and increase the positive impact that STEMNET has on young people, teachers, its volunteers and employers.”
David Willetts, Minister for Universities and Science, said, “The positive findings of the report by the National Foundation for Educational Research are testament to STEMNET, its volunteers, and the thousands of UK businesses that contribute their time and energy into making STEMNET’s programmes so successful at informing and enthusing young people about STEM. STEM skills are of vital importance to the UK’s future prosperity, and I encourage more STEM-based businesses to become involved in this proven initiative to bolster the STEM skills pipeline at grass roots level.”
Elizabeth Truss, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Education and Childcare, said, “STEMNET is an innovative and exciting programme that will inspire the next generation of scientists and innovators. A strong STEM education is vital if our students are to compete in the global race for university places and good jobs. That is why we are introducing a rigorous new curriculum, reforming GCSEs and A levels, and recruiting the brightest science and maths graduates into teaching. Our ambition is for more 16- to 18-year-olds to study maths, and that is why we have announced new high-quality maths qualifications which will allow thousands more pupils to study the subject to 18. I am delighted that STEMNET’s work is helping young people develop these important skills.”
Michael Davis, Chief Executive, UK Commission for Employment and Skills, added: “STEMNET sends over 26,000 STEM Ambassadors into schools, helps teachers set up STEM Clubs and links business and education through its Advisory Network. To stay ahead of the curve and make sure we are equipped for whatever the future might bring, we need more of this. More businesses getting involved in inspiring young people, more schools and colleges delivering these subjects in fresh and innovative ways, and ultimately more young people going for a STEM career and helping our country to prosper.”
Susan Galbraith, Head of Oncology iMed, AstraZeneca, said: “These findings highlight what our employee volunteers see when they go into schools; just how positively children and young people engage with science when they get the opportunity to see its impact first-hand. AstraZeneca has supported the STEM Ambassador Programme since it was launched. It provides huge value to us in helping to encourage the next generation of scientists who may one day work in our labs. The scheme also offers real value to society as a whole by creating enthusiasm in science and its application.”
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