Catrin Williams, STEM Coordinator for Grŵp Llandrillo Menai, was one of our winners of an ENTHUSE Celebration Award, specifically for Excellence in STEM teaching: post 16. She was commended for her work embedding real-world STEM careers into the curriculum. She tells us about the challenges and successes of working with local employers in North Wales.
I was genuinely chuffed to be nominated for an FE STEM ENTHUSE Celebration Award by a colleague, having been seconded as a STEM coordinator for the previous five years within my own organisation, Grŵp Llandrillo Menai.
While my role description is broad, working to raise the profile of STEM within the organisation, in secondary schools and with primary schools locally, I have effectively been given a free rein to explore options to develop new ideas.
This has been done through working in partnership on collaborative projects such as the Greenpower kit cars, hosting exciting workshop events to break gender stereotyping in relation to the construction industry and ensuring that site visits offer real-world scenarios, allowing local secondary school learners to see women working STEM roles in industry.
STEM fairs which we host at our campuses, including those from other large schools, attract over 500 school-age learners, 14 per event and over 20 local employers, giving school staff an opportunity to meet local employers and discover more about future career pathways.
In North Wales we do not have such a large and diverse range of STEM industry to inspire our young people compared to other regions, so always jump at the opportunity to engage with local business when they offer positive role models to support with events.
The knowledge of local job types and careers is a key feature of what we try to accomplish as an FE college, constantly updating courses to meet local demand and ensuring that there are progression routes not only for our own 14-19 aged learners, but a range of CPD opportunities for local employers, from SMEs to large scale corporate employers to upskill their current staff.
Building a network of support
I have found that teaching staff, employers and private industry are all keen to work together to empower our young people, but often struggle to communicate with one another, they simply don’t know where to start. Often I became this starting point for them. By adopting a positive ethos, and attending working groups and conferences it is possible to share good practice and make connections in addition to exploring the positive use of technology. There is no magic wand, no one size fits all approach to this and no right or wrong way to proceed - it can take a bit of trial and error to build these connections, but the hard work is worth it.
What I can say, though, is that none of this would be possible without the positive support of the senior management and teaching staff (both within and outside of Grŵp Llandrillo Menai) who go the extra mile to support with events, often with the promise of a cup of tea and a biscuit!
ENTHUSE Celebration Awards 2020
Applications for the 2020 ENTHUSE Celebration Awards are now open. If you know of a teacher who has gone the extra mile to develop their skills and engage their pupils with STEM subjects, we'd love to hear about them. You can nomination yourself or others for an award and can find a full list of awards categories here. Applications are open until 6 April.