STEM funding: STEM partnerships for schools

How can science, technology and engineering industries support your school? The ENTHUSE programme has some answers

The UK has a strong reputation for STEM education – and the not-for-profit organisation STEM Learning intends to keep it that way. Backed by funding from government, charities, trusts, foundations and businesses, its goal is to establish a world-leading STEM education, raising attainment among young people and inspiring them into careers in the field.

STEM Learning is the country’s leading provider of CPD to primary and secondary teachers, with a wide range of educational experts (including former teachers, heads of departments and scientists with experience in schools) who design and deliver training and produce the more than 15,000 free resources for schools and colleges on its website.

At the heart of STEM Learning’s activities is the ENTHUSE Partnerships programme. This delivers bespoke long-term learning support for groups of schools, in collaboration with STEM employers and local delivery partners (usually education consultancies). Around 150 partnerships of between six and ten schools were established last year, each with a dedicated advisor. Running over two years, each ENTHUSE Partnership receives £25,000 worth of support and has a projected reach of around 64 teachers and 6,400 young people.

With a budget provided by local STEM employers, each partnership can bring together all of STEM Learning’s initiatives – from teacher CPD to STEM ambassador role models from industry, summer camps, work experience, volunteering, STEM clubs and teacher placements in industry or university. Schools also gain from working with each other, often across the primary/secondary divide. While each partnership is designed as a unique programme, there is a common focus on building student aspiration, attainment and careers awareness.

As well as covering the costs of CPD and travel, funding is also available for cover teaching so that teachers are freed up to attend training. As STEM Learning’s partnership development officer Danny Knight says: ‘We are well aware of the pressures on teachers’ time. One teacher who was attending training on augmented reality skills said she wouldn’t have been able to attend without her cover being paid for. She would still have had to teach the topic, but without understanding it!

Hilderthorpe Primary ENTHUSE Partnership

This partnership of five primaries and one secondary school in the East Riding of Yorkshire was sponsored by Ørsted and the East Coast Community Fund.

For Kate Sutton, STEM lead at Burlington Junior School, the CPD and collaboration with other schools has had a huge impact: ‘We’ve been able to embed skills such as critical thinking and help develop our pupils’ knowledge and understanding and love for science and STEM subjects. Our Year 4s visited secondary school to learn more about science, which helped them develop links and demystify what secondary school science might be about.

The Year 4 pupils have been working on animations using web apps. Deputy headteacher Louise Kirby says: ‘The world is rapidly changing in these subject areas and it’s really important teachers have up-to-date knowledge. As a result of the partnership, the opportunities and activities have been more inspiring because of the teachers’ knowledge – and children have risen to that.

South Essex Enthuse Partnership

Trading infrastructure and logistics business DP World is funding a £50,000 programme of STEM support for six schools (Dilkes Academy, Ortu Gable Hall School, The Hathaway Academy, St Thomas More High School, Westcliff High School for Girls and Benyon Primary School). Having already begun working with each other, the schools identified the need for dedicated training to address the transition from primary to secondary school in relation to STEM subjects, particularly for the most vulnerable pupils. This innovative project is the first of its kind and could well have a national impact.

The partnership will include specialist training at DP World’s London Gateway hub and the National STEM Learning Centre in York for a total of 37 teachers, technicians and support staff. There will also be a summer camp for 20 pupils in transition, with exciting sessions on physics, chemistry, biology and STEM-related careers. (Students who take part in STEM Learning summer camps are often those selected for extra support and go on to achieve one grade higher than projected at GCSE.)

For DP World, which has deep water ports and freight rail terminals at London Gateway and Southampton, with an expanding logistics park and advanced software business, it’s a no-brainer. ‘The efforts of these teachers and their pupils has the power to transform their futures,’ says Andrew Bowen, port operations director at DP World London Gateway. ‘We are committed to investing in and regenerating the areas where we operate. More than 85% of our employees at London Gateway live locally. We very much hope that some of the children who are benefiting from our improved science, technology, engineering and maths teaching will come to work with us.

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