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Business breakfast event: Delivering impact and social value through STEM engagement

Published: Jan 20, 2021 4 min read

STEM learning

How and why is it important to measure and evaluate social value through STEM engagement?   This was one of the key questions asked at STEM Learning’s first virtual business breakfast to be held in 2021. 

STEM Learning along with a panel of colleagues from business and education led the discussion about the approaches and challenges around measuring impact. Over 100 representatives joined the conversation from across the UK STEM business and education landscape. They were keen to share their experiences, learn from each other and most importantly learn about ways that employers can engage with schools and measure and evaluate the impact of this engagement with their local community.

Benefits of monitoring and evaluating social value

Discussion focused on how and why STEM Learning monitored and evaluated the social value impact of their programmes. Ben Dunn from STEM Learning explained the importance of being able to showcase the positive impact that our work has: with evidence that it is helping young people; sparking their enthusiasm and boosting their achievement.  He also explained how this evaluation was fundamental to how we work with our partners, enabling employers to see the ‘real’ impact of their investment in an ENTHUSE Partnership (Impact 2020 Report). Ben also highlighted the role monitoring and evaluation had on providing strategic guidance and enabling the organisation to make continuous improvements to its courses, programmes, and resources to ensure long-term success.

Michelle Levi of Jacobs reinforced this message by explaining that ‘you can’t improve what you can’t measure’.  She highlighted the company’s commitment to working with STEM Learning on developing a tool to measure the impact of their STEM activities. In 2019, the first year they have recorded impact which will form their pre-Covid baseline, they had generated over £10 million of social value through mentoring and support from their STEM Ambassador programme and employability sessions.  She explained the importance of measuring their STEM Ambassador programme to improve the social value Jacob’s create, making sure they are supporting activities that create value to society and provide more opportunities to socially excluded groups.  On top of this it will enhance employees’ skills and motivation, as well as enabling Jacobs to meet and inspire potential employees currently in education.

She added that initiatives like the STEM Learning ENTHUSE Partnerships programme allows for investment and impact over a longer period of time, recognising the ‘multiplier effect’ of supporting teachers who then reach hundreds of pupils and students. She also highlighted the appeal of ENTHUSE Partnerships reaching the schools where support is most needed.

Measuring the impact on school children and local communities

From Pegasus and Orchard Meadow Primary Schools, Laura Deacon – Head of Science –explained that schools welcome the opportunities a relationship with businesses can give them and would be receptive to being approached by any.  She highlighted how their involvement with the Vertex ENTHUSE Partnership had revolutionised their learning options and had been an accelerator in terms of the STEM engagement from the school children she teaches, their parents and the local community.  She also talked about how important engaging local employers through the STEM Learning’s Ambassador Programme had been to their school on providing real life examples of STEM careers and opportunities to learn outside the classroom.

In all discussions it was clear there is a collective passion from business to continue to support our young people and those who educate them in whatever way they can.  From businesses adapting their ways in which they can continue to engage with young people and teachers in the current circumstances will help not just in the here and now but equally it will help to ensure that we have a pool of talent to take up future STEM roles.

We are proud that collaborations with our partners are bringing long-term social value to tens of thousands of young people.  By being transparent about the results of our own evaluation and monitoring and evidence-based impact we hope to inspire and engage others to support us in our mission to inspire the next generation of STEM employees. 

If you are an employer that has been inspired by our recent business discussion and share our mission of a world-leading STEM education for every young person in the UK, whatever their background, please contact our employers team.