STEM Leaders: ready for the future and a chance to shine

STEM Leaders: ready for the future and a chance to shine image

“Workplaces want people who can come in and, yes, be intelligent, but also work well as part of a team from the beginning.

“STEM Leaders gives them a sense of belonging to something.”

Aaron Oliver – Digital Leader of Science Academy, Mountbatten School

The Mountbatten School’s science department wanted to add an extra element to their curriculum which would help their students to feel confident and ready for college or the workplace.

Using the STEM Leaders programme, they aimed to encourage their learners to develop transferrable skills and take the lead in a variety of projects and activities.

Ellie Peacock is the school’s Deputy Head of Science Academy and a STEM Leaders tutor. She believes the programme is vital for the students’ future: “When we speak to colleges and employers, their biggest concern is that students come to them with qualifications and numbers on paper, but they don’t have the skills they need.

“We see Leadership Skills qualifications as a way for them to add something extra to their CV so that when they go to an interview they can demonstrate those skills. They show that they have planned, led and even taught all these sessions and can bring these skills to the workplace.”

Aaron Oliver, the school’s Digital leader of Science Academy, backs this up and sees how the qualifications help learners to stand out: “Even when students are capable of achieving high grades, they can still feel quite awkward in interviews or when they need to work with other people because they just don’t have those skills.

“Workplaces now want people who can come in and, yes, be intelligent, but also work well as part of a team from the beginning.”

Ellie continues: “We want to make sure that what we offer to the learners is purposeful. We want them to take on the skills they learn during the course and practice them away from the sessions to really hone in on them and take feedback from us.

“That way they really build up their confidence in the skills, rather than just being able to show them on paper.

“I think it is widely accepted that the pandemic had some adverse effects on many students but programmes like STEM Leaders are the building blocks to overcoming those challenges.”

As one of the first centres to incorporate the STEM Leaders programme into their curriculum, Mountbatten School have seen STEM Leaders steadily grow in popularity with their students, replacing a previous course that was offered. Aaron explains: “In terms of numbers, for a previous course like this, we only had five sign up – and that ended up being four on the course, so any teamwork or exercises didn’t work well.

“For our first cohort of STEM Leaders learners, we had about 20. Going through this time – the third cohort – we had 35 apply.

“Equally, in terms of how those students seem to fit in has been absolutely brilliant; even when they’ve finished the sessions, they’re looking to stay and help.

“So many of our year eleven students, who did STEM Leaders in year nine or year ten, they’re now finding ways to come and help with science clubs in year six, year seven and year eight.

“All of that comes just from doing this programme for a few months but the experience is brilliant so they want to keep doing it.”

For Ellie, STEM Leaders gives their students a chance to be recognised for their work and their progress, something which not always be easy for some learners: “They get to represent the school and become really good role models, which is quite a big deal.

“We work closely with local primary schools to put on workshops and events and a lot of the students love to go back to their old primary schools – their teachers remember them and they enjoy seeing how much they have developed and grown their confidence.

“It’s nice to be able to give students who maybe aren’t so sporty an opportunity to shine in the school. When they finish the qualification, they get a presentation from the Head Teacher and a big fuss on social media, so they get a chance to be in the limelight.”

STEM Leaders has added a different dimension to the students’ overall learning and become a key part of their weekly experience, which Aaron sees as being beneficial to them: “For the amount of work you put into STEM Leaders as a school, you get an awful lot more out of it.”

Deliver STEM Leaders to your students and help them develop key leadership skills through a series of STEM based activities.