STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering & Maths) education

Bohunt Education Trust (BET), which operates across Hampshire and West Sussex, is calling for schools to take the lead on STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering & Maths) education.

Laura Wilson, Head of STEM at Bohunt School in Liphook, recently pointed out at a Telegraph round table event on women in STEM (http://t.co/2iPsCINONs), the limitations of the current status quo. With STEM relegated to after school clubs and companies predominantly offering a plethora of uncoordinated inspiration events the impact is only felt by pockets of students and does nothing to change out-of-date attitudes towards engineering.

BET is taking a very different approach by bringing specific STEM lessons, designed in conjunction with long-term industry partners, in to the curriculum so that all students take part. The STEM curriculum is based around a series of challenges that develop not only knowledge, but also key skills and habits of mind. The challenges, set by industry partners such as Surrey Satellites and Siemens, either mirror real-world issues the companies are facing or focus on areas of knowledge that they feel is missing from the curriculum.

There are numerous advantages to this approach:

  • The lessons, taught during Key Stage 3 (11-14 year olds), are experienced by all students, thereby ensuring every student is: Increasingly motivated to study the individual subjects by being shown their practical application; given the chance to decide whether a future in STEM might be for them; more ‘STEM literate’, an essential attribute in the modern world.
  • The integration of the curriculum with industry through the content, challenges, resources, trips and outside speakers, provides an in-depth, meaningful look at potential future STEM careers that goes far beyond careers meetings or work experience.
  • The sustained focus on STEM over numerous years goes far beyond knowledge acquisition; it gives students a chance to develop the attitudes, competencies and habits of mind that will help them in the world of work. Examples include working to a brief, communication and prototyping.
  • The long-term partnership with companies, which does not necessarily mean lots of time on the company’s part as most of the work is done by the school, leads to numerous win-win spin-offs. Examples include company employees developing communication skills by giving workshops and talks, the recruiting of apprentices to the companies and high impact CSR through mentoring of students that show high aptitude and motivation.

By Bohunt School taking the lead various initiatives can be knitted together in to a coherent, exciting programme that allows students to progress rather than just experience. Bohunt is currently planning an initiative in conjunction with Lockheed Martin that will see a large number of students take part in their ‘Merlin Challenge’. Those that are inspired by that will then progress to competing in the Greenpower Car Competition (http://www.greenpower.co.uk), supported by Lockheed Martin employees. It is hoped then that those students who decide this is the career for them will be mentored by Lockeed Martin members of staff long after they have left Bohunt.

Acting upon research that suggests many students decide their career options primarily based on their parents opinions of certain industries. BET decided to tackle the issue of the perception of STEM careers both by parents and students by hosting a free STEM festival for the whole community. Over 40 local STEM industries attended offering hands-on workshops and interactive exhibits. The event has been run for two years and over 6000 people have attended. Exit surveys from the festivals have shown that the percentage of parents that would recommend a STEM career to their children doubled to nearly 90% by the end of the Festival.

Laura Wilson, Head of STEM at Bohunt, at the Telegraph event talked over another major barrier that their approach is helping to overcome:

“When we ask students to draw an engineer they depict a man and a mechanic.”

By controlling STEM over a sustained period of time the school can ensure the role models encountered by students highlight that STEM is for all. The annual Bohunt motivational speaker series has emphasised women in STEM, the Siemens Womens Network has run girls only STEM workshops and the schemes of work are made accessible to all.

Anecdotal evidence and success, for both girls and boys, at national Science Competitions such as Go4SET and the National Science & Engineering Competition, hint at the impact of BET’s approach. However, attainment and destination data is not yet available as the initiatives are relatively new. However, recognition and affirmation of Bohunt’s innovative approach is growing; BET’s Director of Learning and Strategy, Philip Avery won STEM Leader of the Year 2013 and the school was TES Overall School of the Year 2014.

Furthermore, the school has been selcted to collaborate with the Centre for Real-World Learning at the University of Winchester and the Royal Academy of Engineering to work out how to embed Engineering Habits of Mind and then measure their impact on attainment, attitudes and ambitions.

Neil Strowger, CEO of Bohunt Education Trust, said:

“Education for us is far more than simply outstanding examination results. Our STEM curriculum shows our commitment to giving students the skills, attitudes and ambition to stand-out and succeed long after they have left us.”

ENDS

Contact Details:
Philip Avery, Director of Learning & Strategy for Bohunt Education Trust
E: pavery@bohunt.hants.sch.uk M: 07939 504 748
Tw: @Bohunt_Trust @BohuntSchool

Notes for Editors:
Bohunt Education Trust (BET)

BET is a small Multi-Academy Trust on the South Coast of England. It comprises:

  • Bohunt School, Liphook: A long-established, outstanding school in Liphook, Hampshire that was TES Overall School of the Year 2014. The school is the Head Office of BET. 1500 students, aged 11-16.
  • Priory School, Portsmouth: A long-established, requiring improvement school that joined BET on the 1 September 2014. 1250 students, aged 11-16.
  • Bohunt School, Worthing: This is a brand new school that is currently being built. It will open in temporary accommodation in September 2015 and then move in to its new building in April 2016. It will comprise 900 students, aged 11-16 when full.

STEM Education at Bohunt School 2012-2015

Over the past three years Bohunt School have been working on a project to improve the provision of STEM education for young people both in their School and beyond. They have used a variety of approaches in order to accomplish this.

  • STEM Change team
    Bohunt School have adopted an innovative approach that allows all staff to take ownership of the School Improvement Plan. All staff are given additional non-teaching time in order to create Change Teams that each focus on one area of the School Improvement Plan. Staff are allocated to these groups based on their interests. The STEM Change Team was created two years ago with the aim of improving STEM education at Bohunt School. It comprises teachers across the science, technology and maths department. During their time together the STEM change team have been responsible for implementing initiatives school wide.
  • Year 7 and 8 STEM Club
    An after school STEM club was launched three years ago. It is planned for, and run by, staff across the science, maths and technology departments. The aim of this club was to run hour long, fun challenges after school that will help to engage students in these exciting subjects. The clubs are heavily subscribed and regularly have over 100 students involved.
  • National Science and Engineering Competitions
    A number of students who are interested in longer term, higher level projects are invited to work with dedicated teachers to compete in the National Science and Engineering Competition. We have had five entries into the regional competitions and two of these have progressed to the finals. The competition allows students to really challenge themselves and work with people both inside and outside of school in order to improve their projects. The competition has had a really positive effect of all those who have participated and many of them have consequently decided to pursue STEM subjects into higher education. In March of next year two Bohunt students, Yasmine and Tilly, are taking their idea of a toy to improve the engagement of large cats in captivity to the National Finals in Birmingham.
  • Go4SET Project
    This 10 week project is held during the summer term and Bohunt School have entered a team for the past two years. The competition involves each team of students being partnered with a teacher and industry expert in a bid to design an island school. The competition not only helps to improve knowledge, problem solving and creative design but we purposefully choose students in Year 9 who would also benefit from improving their teamwork and communication skills.
  • Day trips and events
    At Bohunt School we are committed to ensuring that all of our students are able to benefit from trips, competitions and events. Consequently many are run during the school year targeting different groups of students and year groups. Some of the example of trips and events we run include; GCSE Science Live, IBM Blue Fusion, Bang Bang Near Me and Siemens Crystal Visit.
  • First Lego League
    Computer sciences and technology is a growing area of industry and we are determined to give our students as much hands on experience in programming and electronics as possible during their time at Bohunt. We have purchased a class set of Lego Mindstorms that will be used during lesson times and also to participate in the First Lego League. This competition promotes teamwork and collaboration as well as improving programming and problem solving skills.
  • Arkwright Scholarship
    The Arkwright Scholarship is a positive tool to help facilitate the movement of students from school into higher education and the workforce. It can be used to build confidence in students and to reward exceptional talent in science and engineering. As a school we promote the Arkwright Scholarship to outstanding students who would like to pursue a career in engineering.
    In the future we are looking to build our own mentor programme with our industry partners in order to give more students the opportunity to benefit from this specific, specialist support.
  • Inspirational Speaker Events
    It is well recognised that positive role models can have a significantly positive effect on young people. In response to this Bohunt hosts annual Inspirational Speaker Events that have included such people as Patrick Kniverton, Chair of the Institute of Mechanical Engineers.
  • STEM Festival
    Acting upon research that suggests many students decide their career options primarily based on their parents opinions of certain industries. Bohunt School decided to tackle the issue of the perception of STEM careers both by parents and students by hosting a free STEM festival for the whole community on a Saturday. Over 40 local STEM industries attended offering hands-on workshops and interactive exhibits. The event has been run for two years and over 6000 people have attended the school over these two dates.
  • STEM Curriculum
    Whilst offering an outstanding array of extra-curricular activities Bohunt School also recognised the importance of promoting STEM habits of mind and technical ability to all students. Consequently teachers and industry experts from local STEM companies such as Siemens and SSTL have co-written challenges that all students in Year 7 and 8 will undertake. It is hoped that following the completion of this two year course more students will opt to take STEM subjects in higher education. In the future the STEM curriculum will move up to Key Stage 4 and in to the planned Bohunt Sixth Form.
    Engineering Habits of Mind Action Research in collaboration with the Centre for Real-World Learning at the University of Winchester and the Royal Academy of Engineering
  • Engineering Habits of Mind (EHoM) describes the dispositions required by STEM employers for their employees. These EHoM include skills such as problem solving, adapting, visualising, and systems thinking. The STEM curriculum has been written in the hope that these EHoM can be learnt and developed by students. Bohunt is working with the University of Winchester in order to measure the impact that such teaching pedagogy has on students.
  • STEM Ambassador Training Events
    In the wider arena Bohunt has supported STEMNET by offering training to STEM ambassadors and workshops that help to improve the confidence of ambassadors visiting schools.
  • TeachMeets
    Bohunt School has hosted and attended several TeachMeets with an emphasis on STEM education. It is hoped that the work and action research undertaken at Bohunt will be used to improve STEM provision both locally and nationally.
  • MAT and Teaching Schools
    Bohunt School is part of a multi-academy trust and is a Teaching School. As a result, Bohunt is uniquely placed to introduce STEM education programs regionally as well as locally.