13 Feb 2020 10:33
Published by: Scott Callan

Ashton Community Science College in Preston has been chosen as the STEM Club Champion for Lancashire and Cumbria. The school forms part of a new, 22-strong, network responsible for helping teaching professionals inspire more pupils in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) subjects through out-of-timetable clubs.

The network has been set up by STEM Learning, the largest provider of STEM education and careers in the UK, following a grant from the Gatsby Foundation, and builds on the organisation's popular STEM Club programme. As STEM Club Champion, Ashton Community Science College will provide face-to-face support for teachers across Lancashire and Cumbria, through regular workshops, that will help them start or develop existing, STEM subject clubs.

Representatives from Ashton Community Science College will work with secondary schools, as well as Sixth Form and FE Colleges, throughout the area, to deliver a programme of STEM club CPD workshops and networking events, starting in February. These will enable teachers and club leaders to share ideas and best practice, and also meet local STEM Ambassadors who can support their clubs. Teachers will gain access to a range of resources to help maximise the impact of their clubs. Collectively, STEM Club Champions will target nearly 3,000 schools during the course of the programme.

Enrichment STEM clubs, which often run out-of-timetable, offer an enjoyable way to engage students with related subjects in an informal setting. The clubs are an important outlet to ignite new, or further students' interest in STEM subjects through more imaginative and inventive teaching methods. They allow students space to experiment, ask questions and tackle challenges of interest to them unconfined by the structures of the curriculum.

The workshops will cover themes such as how to start a STEM club and making an existing club thrive. Another important focus is enhancing careers knowledge and club leaders will be signposted to the support available from STEM Learning's network of over 30,000 STEM Ambassadors, who together represent more than 2,500 employers.

Ashton Community Science College was chosen due to its strong connections with the local school community and experience of supporting and engaging with teachers.

Sarah Connon, Assistant Headteacher at Ashton Community Science College said: "We are excited to take on this new role as STEM Club Champion and support teachers, teaching assistants and careers leaders to ensure students in our schools and colleges have opportunities to not only increase their cultural capital but also their skills."

"Across Lancashire and Cumbria there is extremely high demand for STEM skills, in particular for careers in the manufacturing and digital industries. Within our role, we will assist schools across the region to enhance their curriculum delivery and support them to produce highly skilled STEM employees of the future. Any schools looking for information on forthcoming workshops and events can visit our website and sign-up to our weekly newsletter."

The significant expansion of the STEM Clubs programme comes as evidence from STEM Learning's regular consultations with teachers identified widespread demand for local face-to-face support. Over the next four years, STEM Learning intends to expand the STEM Club Champion network to offer support to both primary and secondary schools, across the UK.

Dr Alex Brown, STEM Support Programme Manager at STEM Learning said: "STEM clubs are individual to each school, and there is of course, no set formula. However, evidence from our teacher surveys and consultations, including those with no STEM Club experience, highlights a strong desire for face-to-face support at a local level to help them start, sustain and grow their clubs.

"Our STEM Club Champions will act as a hub in their patch and over the next four years deliver hundreds of workshops to drive growth and develop the STEM Club ‘ecosystem' in their local area. Our ambition is for every young person in the UK to get the chance to engage with a thriving STEM club and we thank Gatsby Foundation for its continued support."

Ginny Page, Programmes Director at Gatsby Foundation said: "If we want to inspire the next generation of technicians, scientists and engineers we need to give young people experiences of STEM that are creative, practical and relevant to their interests. STEM Clubs are a fantastic opportunity for young people to gain these experiences, and it's great that STEM Learning is helping teachers and technicians across the country establish thriving STEM Clubs in their schools".

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