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When STEM? A question of age

Ensuring a long-term adequate supply of engineers is vital for the continued and sustainable health, wealth and security of the UK. The engineering community expends considerable resources trying to engage with the next generation of potential engineers by enhancing STEM education. But if a greater proportion of its resources were applied to a specific age range, would it have a more beneficial and longer-lasting effect on the perceptions, interests, study choices and career decisions of young people? If so, what is that age range and how should we use our finite resource to best effect?

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Key recommendations

We urge the engineering community to:

  • Allocate a greater proportion of its resources to influencing the 11-14 age group. This is a key period during which children's interest in STEM often falls away; this influences their future decisions about whether to study STEM subjects and pursue STEM careers
  • Work with government and schools to investigate ways that engineering can add value to the curriculum. Activities that support these early secondary school years should link theory with practical activity and illustrate the real-world relevance of the maths and science curricula

We urge the government to:

  • Promote non-transmissive teaching for STEM subjects in both primary and early secondary schools that encourages interactive learning. Teacher training should prepare secondary school teachers to understand how to build on primary school learning and experiences to create a positive response to, and progressive learning in, STEM subjects

Download the full report.

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