New report calls for action to reverse STEM skills gap
A groundbreaking report recommending major changes to the teaching and learning of science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) was published today by the Haringey STEM Commission. Set up by Haringey Council in autumn 2015, the STEM Commission is independent group, chaired by Baroness Morgan which was asked to raise attainment in STEM subjects.
The STEM Commission gathered evidence from businesses, experts and teachers including Andy Haldane, chief economist at the Bank of England; Sir Roger Carr, chairman of BAE Systems Google, the NHS, the Royal Society, Siemens, BT and MPs.
The STEM Commission report was published alongside new research by the House of Commons library which found the number of pupils in England achieving A to C grades in science, maths and technology GCSEs has fallen in recent years.
The STEM Commission report has 12 final recommendations including:
Establishing a ‘Haringey Diploma’, developed and accredited by employers, business leaders and experts, based on STEM subjects.
Setting up two centres of STEM teaching excellence to support and train local teachers.
Appointing a Haringey STEM co-ordinator to work with teachers, industry and academics to increase after school STEM teaching and learning including an annual Haringey STEM festival.
Encouraging STEM professionals to volunteer in Haringey schools.
New Mayor of London Sadiq Khan, has made skills a key part of his policy programme, and has pledged to conduct his own London-wide STEM Commission.
Baroness Morgan, Chair of the Haringey STEM Commission said:
“Rapid technological innovation is changing our lives and our education system must adapt quickly to bridge a growing skills gap in science, technology, engineering and maths. The STEM commission has focused its attention on Haringey, but this is clearly a national issue which the government must address.
“There are enormous opportunities for young people – the challenge now is for everyone involved in their education to come together to ensure Britain is a world leader in science, maths, technology and the digital economy.”
Leader of Haringey Council, Claire Kober said:
“We set up the STEM commission because we knew the high-tech jobs of the future will be taken by those who excel in science, technology, engineering or maths. In a highly competitive world it’s clear a new approach is desperately needed to reverse the trend of falling GCSE results in science, technology, engineering and maths across England.
“I want Haringey to lead the way on STEM, raising aspirations for our education system so young people can make the most of the amazing opportunities that will be open to them if they study science, technology, engineering and maths. I urge the new Education secretary to study the STEM commission’s report closely and act to ensure our children don’t get left behind.”
More information can be found on the Haringey STEM Commission website (external link)
New figures from the House of Commons library show the number of pupils in schools in England achieving A-C grades in selected STEM subjects has fallen:
* Information Technology from 75.9% to 67.3%, down 8.6% (2010 to 2015)
* Core Science from 64.5% to 59.2%, down 5.3% (2012 to 2015)
* Computer Science A-C grade from 69.9% to 65.5% down 4.4% (2013 to 2015)
* Additional Science fell from 68.4% to 64.6%, down 3.8% (2010 to 2015
* Applied engineering from 42.7% to 39.5%, down 3.2% (2010 to 2015)
* Biological sciences from 94.1% to 91.6%, down 2.5% (2010 to 2015)
* Chemistry from 93.9% to 91.5%, down 2.4% (2010 to 2015)
* Maths from 72% to 70%, down 2% (2013 to 2015)
* Physics fell from 94% to 92.3%, down 1.7% (2010 to 2015)
The STEM Commission was chaired by Baroness Morgan of Huyton, who also chairs the House of Lords Select Committee on Digital Skills, the Commission was made up of Andrew Harrison, Chief Strategy Officer of Manchester Airport Group; Michael McKenzie, Headteacher of Alexandra Park School, Haringey; Robert Peston, Political Editor of ITV News and Maggie Philbin CEO and Founder of TeenTech. As part of the Commission Haringey school children gave evidence in a special session at the Houses of Parliament, organised with the TeenTech organisation, and over 600 young people gave their views in an online survey.
Some facts and figures from the Haringey STEM Commission Report include:
- An estimated seventeen million UK adults have numeracy levels no better than a primary school child. The UK Commission for Employment and Skills estimates that nearly half of STEM vacancies are hard to fill due to skills shortages. According to OECD research 9 million adults (a quarter of 16-65 year olds) are deemed to lack basic skills, having low levels of numeracy, literacy or both. Among those aged 16-19, one third are found to have low basic skills, particularly in numeracy – the OECD found that even for those with GCSEs that include maths and English, the basic skills outcomes are weaker than qualification obtained in other OECD countries.
- In 2014 there were 382,000 workers in London’s technology and information sector, an increase of 11% since 2009 (Mandel M and Liebenau J 2014 – London: Digital City on the Rise)
- There are more than 700 life sciences companies in London employing over 21,500 – life sciences in the UK has an annual turnover of £52bn, the pharmaceutical industry alone generates £29bn in annual turnover and employs over 70,000 people. (Office of Life Sciences 2011).
- Sir Roger Carr, the Chairman of BAE Systems, told the Commission that the engineering sector will need 1.9 million more recruits by 2020, which will mean doubling the number of engineering graduates.
- In evidence given to the Commission, the Tech Partnership said that a million new recruits will be needed in the UK technology sector by 2023.
5. The Ada National College for Digital Skills will open in Tottenham Hale in September 2016. The college will equip young people with the latest high-tech skills and qualifications from software programming and data science to games design and app development.
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