Narrowing the gap
Our mission is for every young person in the UK to have access to a world-leading STEM education.
Many of our programmes are designed to help you support pupils from the most disadvantaged backgrounds. The recent increase in home learning, with students spending time away from the classroom, means the gap may have widened.
We have put together a collection of resources, information and advice to support school leaders and teachers in narrowing the attainment gap in STEM, and identifying some effective ways your school might use pupil premium funding.
- Tutoring support
- Tailored CPD
- Mentoring for students
- Catch-up camps
- Work placements
The Department for Education (DfE) has outlined its plans to support schools with a £1 billion ‘catch-up’ package, of which £350 million is set aside for tutoring pupils from the most disadvantaged backgrounds. Here is a selection of useful resources and CPD courses suitable for tutors, teachers and mentors, whether in a school or home learning setting.
We have a wealth of science resources linked to the curriculum, available for Primary, Secondary within biology, chemistry and physics, and post-16.
To support remote learning, we've put together this 'Starters for Science' resource collection with easy activities for children aged 4-11, plus this list of science apps that can be used on smartphones. We also have a range of free remote lessons covering a variety of topics, including evolution, forces and the human body. These have all been created and recorded by our subject experts.
The National Centre for Computing Education (NCCE) has a number of resources supporting home teaching, including a timetable of sequential, topic-led activities and live online support.
The NCCE is also working with OAK National Academy, an online classroom and resource hub providing high-quality video lessons and resources to support teachers, parents and pupils, both at school and at home.
The Teach Computing curriculum contains everything you need to teach computing at key stages 1 to 4, including lesson plans, slides, worksheets, homework and assessment.
At A Level, the NCCE brings you Issac Computing, which support KS5 students to catch up using a self-study approach. Tutors can elect and set self-marking homework questions, pinpoint areas to work on and manage progress in a personal markbook.
The NCCE also has subject knowledge assessments to help you assess where a student is in a particular topic area. These are free online self-marking assessments that allow you to evaluate a student's knowledge to inform your tutoring in the coming year.
There are a number of STEM Learning courses that are remotely delivered and suitable for tutors to develop their skills and subject knowledge at both primary and secondary level.
- Teaching EYFS Science
- Teaching Key Stage 1 Science
- Teaching Lower KS2 Science
- Teaching Upper Key Stage 2 Science
- Subject knowledge enhancement: KS3 Biology
- Subject knowledge enhancement: KS4 Biology
- Subject knowledge enhancement: Biology Triple Science
- Subject knowledge enhancement: KS3 Chemistry
- Subject knowledge enhancement: KS4 Chemistry
- Subject knowledge enhancement: Chemistry Triple Science
- Subject knowledge enhancement: KS3 Physics
- Subject knowledge enhancement: Physics KS4
- Subject knowledge enhancement: Physics Triple Science
- Maths in the secondary science curriculum
To support tutors with the basic principles of computing and computer science, the NCCE has introductory courses at both primary and secondary level.
The quality of teaching is an important factor in narrowing the attainment gap in STEM. Our CPD structure means you can bolt together different units to meet the specific needs of your school.
Recently we have developed more remote CPD courses aimed at, for example, supporting disadvantaged learners and supporting effective transition of pupils from year 6 to year 7 in science. These courses include strategies such as introducing the 'Science Capital' teaching approach, developing creative activities to build on prior learning and using diagnostic teaching to address gaps in knowledge and skills.
Teaching and learning at home, away from the context of the classroom, can widen the attainment gap further and so we have CPD courses to support teachers with the remote teaching of science. We are also developing even more CPD courses that will be launching soon.
Students have missed out on so much due to the COVID-19 pandemic, not only academically but socially and emotionally too. It is more important than ever that pupils living with disadvantage are given extra support. We can help you provide your students with mentoring opportunities linked to real life experiences and extracurricular activities.
Programmes such as STEM Clubs and our STEM Ambassadors can bring the subjects to life, provide real world contexts and raise aspirations, especially for disadvantaged students. These approaches also have a wider benefit to your school in terms of meeting the Gatsby Career Benchmarks.
STEM Ambassadors are positive role models who bring STEM subjects to life, demonstrate their value and inspire young people. They represent a vast range of STEM-related jobs and disciplines across the UK. Over 30,000 STEM Ambassadors, from more than 2,500 employers, offer their expertise free of charge to encourage young people to achieve more and progress further in STEM.
The programme is coordinated by 19 local STEM Ambassador Hubs and adopts a targeted delivery approach to support disadvantaged young people.
A new digital platform and STEM Ambassador App has streamlined the volunteer experience, enabling a greater focus on engaging groups and locations with the most need. A particular focus for 2020/21 is how technology can enable STEM Ambassadors and others to reach and engage young people and their influencers in innovative ways. We are focusing more closely on under-served groups and geographies, ensuring they get the support which makes the most difference.
STEM Learning are also working with Brightside to mobilise STEM Ambassadors to provide online mentoring to support 2000 year 12 students from disadvantaged backgrounds. This initiative will complement existing provisions, help students navigate the next steps in their education pathway and make informed decisions about their future.
Please contact your local STEM Ambassador Hub to find out more about online mentoring and other ways in which STEM Ambassadors can support you.
STEM Clubs aim to enrich the curriculum using imaginative and inventive teaching methods, and are a great way of inspiring young people in STEM. Because clubs are often led in a less formal, out-of-timetable setting, it can give students the confidence to experiment, explore and ask questions they may not otherwise ask. Your school can benefit from running STEM clubs in a number of ways, from improving inter-departmental working to developing links with STEM employers in your local community. You can request the help of a STEM Ambassador to help run activities in your school, or we have advice and support available on running your own.
In August 2020 STEM Learning and partners, with the support of the RAF, devised and delivered four catch-up camps in Essex to over 60 pupils from year 10.
The camps focused on targeted coverage of core GCSE topics for biology, chemistry and physics in order to set them up for year 11 and their GCSE exams next summer. Over the course of three five-hour days, the pupils took part in interactive sessions delivered by excellent and enthusiastic subject specialist teachers from other schools. Engagement from pupils was superb and the teachers not only loved being back in the classroom, but also felt that they were making a difference and giving back to their community. You can read a report of the Harlow catch-up camp here.
If you are interested and want to know more, please email K.Cooke@stem.org.uk
The transition from school to higher education or the workplace can be challenging, but even more so for students from disadvantaged backgrounds.
Linking what students learn in the classroom to the world of work is a powerful way of increasing engagement and confidence, and raising aspirations, in STEM. Work placements provide a fantastic opportunity to contextualise the skills and knowledge learned at school and to work alongside industry professionals.
Nuffield Research Placements
Nuffield Research Placements give year 12 students from disadvantaged backgrounds the opportunity to gain STEM skills and confidence by undertaking active research projects in their summer holidays. This flagship programme was developed and continues to be funded by the Nuffield Foundation, and is managed and operated by STEM Learning.
They are a great way to encourage your students to learn more about a career in STEM research and have been shown to increase access to university courses in STEM subjects. There is no financial cost to your school and getting involved with Nuffield Research Placements will raise the school's profile in your local community. You can also create valuable links with local researchers based in universities, industry and the voluntary sector.
Find out more about Nuffield Research Placements here - applications open in November 2020.
Our wider programmes
Science CPD and programmes
Intensive residential CPD
Delivered at our National Centre in York, our residential CPD is supported by ENTHUSE-funded bursaries, enabling teachers to access highly subsidised, high impact CPD. If your school is based in an area of particular need, you may be eligible for additional support. If you are logged in, and your STEM Learning account is linked to your school, you will automatically see the bursary that is available to you.
Science Learning Partnerships
Our network of SLPs deliver courses locally to you, providing a cost effective solution to subject-specific CPD. Occasionally there are programmes and support for specific focus areas, such as the Triple Science Support Programme, which aims to increase the number of students studying and entering triple science. Your local Science Learning Partnership can also provide support for your school with a bespoke package.
Programmes and CPD from National Centre for Computing Education
The school engagement programme focuses on schools situated in category 5 and 6 local authority districts, along with non-GCSE schools. Local subject matter experts are equipped with knowledge and strategies to support you in narrowing the gap. You can contact your local subject matter expert to organise a fully funded consultation.
ENTHUSE Partnerships provide groups of 6-8 schools and colleges with £20,000 worth of support, enabling them to work collaboratively to improve teaching and learning in science. This might include staff training, resources, teacher placements in industry or universities, coordinated support from volunteers through the STEM Ambassador programme and provision for enrichment activities such as STEM Clubs. This helps to empower schools and colleges to address underachievement in STEM subjects, inspire excellence in the STEM curriculum and raise aspirations, contributing to the Gatsby Careers Benchmarks.
Placement of new ENTHUSE Partnerships will continue to be guided by regional and national education priorities, though they are open to any state-funded schools or colleges in the UK that want to work together. If you're interested, you can find out more about ENTHUSE Partnerships here.