A recent set of awards underlines the success of our grant to STEM Learning’s ENTHUSE Partnerships in raising the bar in science, engineering and mathematics education in UK schools. This year’s ENTHUSE Celebration Awards, presented on 10th December, come at the end of a year when the partnership rose to an unprecedented challenge. Working with teachers and students across the UK, from Ballycastle to Torquay, ENTHUSE Partnerships kept learning and inspiration going when the world stood still and education went mainly online.
This fantastic success story, providing inspiration and excitement in teaching, even through a laptop screen, is a perfect example of the impact of Lloyd’s Register Foundation’s grant. Working with partners such as STEM Learning, with schools and industry partners including major companies like Jacobs, we are opening doors to high-worth careers for children from disadvantaged backgrounds and groups such as girls and BAME students who have not been traditional entrants to engineering careers.
Mick McCarthy, the winner of the ENTHUSE award for School and College Leadership in STEM, teaches at King Edward VI Handsworth School Partnership, Birmingham. As one of the schools supported by the Foundation’s grant, they are a great example of how the partnerships are working in practice.
As Partnership Lead and Head of Department for Design and Technology, Mick has effectively built up a D&T presence in an all-girls school, from having no students taking D&T at GCSE level to now 31 students and A-Level in the offing. He has brought a wealth of experience into leading a department and to supporting girls into STEM careers. He has also broadened its appeal to a wider variety of BAME students who would not often have considered D&T and engineering as a potential career pathway.
Mick has transformed how DT is perceived by his all-female student group. He sums up his approach: “The ambition since joining the school was to make the students more digitally aware, and get them to see the purpose of D&T and where it fits in the STEM umbrella. Our STEM club is now jointly run by the D&T and the Physics department so that the students can see the synergy of the two Departments in a very literal sense.
“What we have done when engaging with pupils is to not make the subject seem easy, instead bringing in lots of theory right from Year 7 onwards with a real focus on ‘why’ they are doing it rather than just thinking about the product they are making. Inevitably sometimes things will be difficult and sometimes it will go wrong, so we really wanted to fix the fear of failure and stress to all of our girls from a young age that mistakes are learning opportunities and that the process is more important than perfection. We believe this in the long run will help them build those skills needed and give them the confidence to pursue a STEM-based career.”
Since the demands on education changed in March, ENTHUSE has continued to support schools to develop high-quality STEM education and increase aspiration for engineering and STEM careers. As they had already established collaborative networks, the schools within the ENTHUSE Partnerships were well-placed to support each other. Most activity here, as everywhere else, shifted online, with an expansive new suite of support developed by STEM Learning. This has included:
- Remotely delivered, live training courses which are helping teachers to meet the challenges faced by schools and colleges. For example, supporting remote learning during school closures, curriculum planning in response to changing exam conditions, delivering practical learning in classrooms with increased health and safety considerations
- Teachers, parents, carers, and community groups engaging in a range of activities with STEM Ambassadors, including taking part in STEM activities at home and participating in careers sessions linked to exploring STEM careers and further study routes
- A new suite of lessons and resources to support parents, carers, and pupils with home learning
- A suite of new online STEM Clubs, supporting young people to engage in STEM enrichment activity and develop employability skills while they were at home
- Delivering the first online STEM Clubs week, highlighting the engineering and technology innovations that are helping to create a safe and sustainable future.
ENTHUSE has been particularly active in supporting students at the greatest risk of ‘lost learning’ due to time spent away from the classroom - in particular, students who are disadvantaged or from under-represented groups. STEM Learning has put together a collection of resources, information and advice to support school leaders and teachers working to narrow the attainment gap in STEM, and have identified some effective ways schools can use Pupil Premium funding to support this.
The Lloyd’s Register Foundation is supporting 20 of the ENTHUSE partnership projects across the UK. Dr Tim Slingsby, our Director of Skills and Education, explained how this helps us make the world a safer place:
“We need more engineers with the ability to address the global challenges of today and the future. We therefore look for mechanisms that work, and evidence they do. ENTHUSE partnerships are a proven model and, by putting engineering at the heart of these school partnerships, our aim is to help increase the number of young people choosing to pursue engineering and technological disciplines post-16.”
The first 20 Lloyd’s Register ENTHUSE Partnerships span the country from Northern Ireland to Devon. They are a response to a skills gap – 90% of engineering companies will be looking for new recruits in the next five years. Engineering is essential for our future prosperity and economic growth, contributing at least £280 billion in gross value to the UK economy – 20% of the total.
Engineering is an invaluable source of skilled, high-paying jobs, with 90% of businesses in engineering, science and hi-tech believing they will look to recruit more people with higher skills in the next three to five years. Supply is currently unable to keep up with demand and recent trends suggest that a shortage will continue into the future.
To date, all school leaders involved in ENTHUSE have reported that pupils’ engagement and interest in STEM subjects had increased as a result. The partnerships enable schools and colleges to collaborate with local, industry-based Engineering Champions and employers, with a focus on disadvantaged and underrepresented groups and communities.