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Maximising impact and evaluating success with the 'Knights' of the round table

Published: Nov 30, 2020 4 min read

STEM learning

King Arthur and the fabled Knights of the Round Table were so called because of a special table in Camelot that was round instead of rectangular – there was no ‘head’ of the table. This meant that everyone around it had equal status – and this encouraged trust among them.

Technology has adapted and for the last few months, our meeting tables have been online rectangles. But the cornerstone of meetings being places of trust to discuss key topics, where participants are of equal status, remains the case – and the value of thought leaders in challenging, sharing and listening remains as crucial now as ever.

Many employers engage in a variety of enrichment and enhancement activities with schools, colleges and youth groups to attract young people (many from disadvantaged backgrounds) into STEM subjects and careers. This has the additional benefit of supporting their local communities. Some employers are at the start of their engagement strategy journey whereas others have reached a more advanced stage. At each stage, they review these activities to invite opportunities to improve engagement and establish meaningful impacts.

Engaging with employers can give pupils a realistic and exciting sense of career choices. It’s been suggested that some young people can feel poorly prepared for working life, and also that recruiters believe some lack the skills required to make a successful transition from education into work.

So how do we maximise the impact and evaluate the success of employer engagement?

We’ve held several strategic sector-specific round table discussions to analyse impact and evaluation with people from a wide diversity of sectors including bioscience, healthcare, digital, finance and banking.

The 'Knights' of our virtual round table heard from our education, research and evaluation teams about approaches to evaluation, discussing the information important to employers and how we can all improve our measuring outcomes for business, teachers and young people. Also discussed was how to increase our support for employers in achieving their engagement objectives and measuring their effectiveness, while exploring best practice within and across the sectors.

Ben Dunn, head of research and evaluation at STEM Learning, said: “We analyse data from multiple different sources to ensure robustness and objectivity. For example, we could be gathering feedback from teachers, undertaking quantitative analyses on exam results, and commissioning an independent evaluation by an external organisation. When multiple sources show the same outcomes and impacts, we make confident conclusions about the impact of our support.”

The Value to Employers in Measuring Impact - Summary

In teaching, evaluating the impact is about measuring the growth of students by comparing where they were at an earlier time with where they are now. In other words - pupil progress. Teachers determine what this growth means for each student’s learning - assessing their knowledge, understanding, capabilities, skills, attitudes and motivations.

However, it’s important to recognise the difference between monitoring pupil progress and evaluating the impact of specific interventions. For employers, the impact in STEM support to schools can feel different. But supporting those in disadvantaged circumstances and agreeing continued investment while driving a future pipeline of new talent is just as important.

Feedback from the round tables has been extremely positive. After one session, the managing director for Computeam signed up as an STEM Ambassador, signed the company up to the STEM Ambassador programme and promoted the scheme to colleagues.

Other feedback included:

“The ripple effect sounds great - one teacher can impact hundreds of students, but seems harder to track back to specific individuals which a lot of companies are looking for when they donate. Measurable / traceable impact on individuals i.e. 50% of students supported went into higher education, would be useful.” Anand Shah, Senior Internal Audit and Risk Consultant, Sony Playstation

"Since establishing he Unilever Bright Future programme, eight out of nine members of the core team were promoted. A further two employees identified new passions and changed job roles, one moving to become a secondary science teacher as engagement with the STEM programme gave her the passion and courage to change career. Others accredited some of their success to the skills they gain through the volunteering and activities they run, especially highlighting the build in confidence and ability to communicate to a diverse audience.” Rob Dawson, Formulation Manager, Unilever UK

 “Thank you very much for an insightful session.” Yogesh Chauhan, Director of Corporate Sustainability, Tata Consultancy Services

The importance of impact cannot be underestimated. We continue to support employers and partners, understand, evaluate and measure the impact they have on pupils and teachers by using sound evidence, intelligence and analysis.