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A message from Christine McInnes:

10 March 2023 weekly update

10 March 2023

This week, Christine shares resources and opportunities dedicated to all the great STEM work that takes place in education in Kent in honor of British Science Week.

Dear Colleagues,

Another busy week and good to see so many of you attending the two headteacher briefings this week. My thanks to DfE colleagues Dame Kate Dethridge, Abda Hussain, Paul Schofield and Joe Field as well as to Kent colleague Neerasha Singh and KCC’s Steve Tanner, Alison Farmer, Craig Chapman and Siobhan Price, as well as Sue Kirby and Jill Fennell who organised.

On Monday Marisa White, AEO in East Kent, and I visited The Sittingbourne School, part of the Swale Academy Trust, to meet with CEO Michael Wilson, COO Janet Garraway, Head of Secondary Improvement Suzanne Dickenson and Executive Headteacher Simon Cox. Thank you to the team for their kind hospitality and time. I have previously let you know about changes in TEP and I was delighted that this week my management team and I had an opportunity to start work with the TEP heads of service to start planning for the future, building on the great existing practice that is already in place.

I hope that International Women’s Day did not pass you by unnoticed. I took the opportunity to reflect back on my own education, including being the first in my family to go to university, and career journey which has involved a great deal of professional generosity from those I have been fortunate to work with along the way and those that I am working with now. The role is demanding, and about to get more so, but it is a huge privilege to be in this position and I am tremendously grateful for the support I get from educational leaders and staff in Kent and my own team. Today is the start of British Science Week which takes place nationally from Friday 10 to Sunday 19 March 2023, and this year’s theme is Connections.

I’ve decided to devote this edition to all the great STEM work that takes place in education in Kent and boy is there a lot of it! You will find exciting opportunities for students, great competitions to enter, and free resources to use, all related to STEM. There are also some thought provoking blogs and information about training for teachers. I hope you find this edition interesting as well as useful.

National Careers Week (PDF, 113.8 KB)

This edition comes out at the end of careers week and there has been a wide range of Careers related events taking place.  Many of which are also STEM related and have been hosted by our STEM hub.  If you missed them, you can see what was available on the STEM Hub website. Also, have a look at what the Career and Enterprise Company is offering in collaboration with the STEM hub in the information below.

Green Careers with STEM (PDF, 90.4 KB)

There is a clear, urgent need to address the challenges of climate change. The transition to a low carbon economy will be key in ensuring continued economic growth whilst addressing these challenges. This transition has already begun and when considering careers in STEM, there are over 400,000 jobs in the UK alone in low carbon businesses and their supply chains. The number of such jobs is expected to grow, the government has set an ambitious target for two million green jobs in the UK by 2030. The government’s green jobs taskforce identified the ‘clear pathway into good green careers’ as being one of the pillars to a lower carbon economy.

STEM Learning are supporting students and teachers awareness of these future careers. Ensuring that young people have the best opportunity to succeed, and the economy has the skills and talented future workforce required to successfully transition to a low carbon economy. Find out more at the Green Careers webpage

KCC STEM offers for young engineers (PDF, 2.2 MB)

Helen Rowe, a Chartered Civil Engineer, who works as Structures and Tunnels Asset Manager for Kent County Council has shared the range of STEM and careers opportunities she and her team offer to schools and young people.  Find her blog ‘KCC STEM offers for young engineers’ in the link above with great photos of the engaging activities she and the team have promoted.  She points out that only 23% of the STEM workforce in the UK is female. It is at age 14 to 16 that children start losing interest in engineering careers, so we want to get there in time to inspire the next generation of engineers. While girls continue to study STEM subjects at school just as much as boys (representing 48% of the total STEM entries at GCSE), there is an ongoing imbalance when it comes to undergraduate degrees and jobs in STEM industries. Only 16% of engineering and technology undergraduates are female and the UK has the lowest percentage of female engineering professionals in Europe - around 11%.

Science needs a spark (PDF, 95.6 KB)

Science is everywhere. Maths, physics, biology and chemistry are the bedrock of technologies, industries, economies and education, particularly technical education. That’s great if you’re a science enthusiast but less good if you’re not. Science is seen as being difficult and we lose able students at each stage of the pipeline. But Alison Ackroyd believes we need to inspire the next generation of practical scientists and teachers must find way to maintain their own love for the subject. Read the fabulous blog ‘Science needs a spark…’ in the link above about her work in FE and beyond as she reaches out to all Science teachers to develop joint working and keep the science spark alive.

Reconnect, Lessons in a box (PDF, 81.5 KB)

History and local attractions can also be used to stimulate an interest in STEM.  Visit Kent, in partnership with Reconnect, developed the STEM Lesson in a Box project which delivered a series of engaging Key Stage 2 lessons to fill the gaps left by the COVID-19 pandemic and reconnect children to their local attractions. The newest ‘Lesson in a Box’ project, entitled ‘Engineers Assemble!’, focused on engaging children with STEM by transforming children in Years 4 and 5 into professional engineers tasked with solving a hypothetical problem faced by one of Kent’s top visitor attractions.   For schools who have engaged, remember to submit picture of your inventions and send this in to Visit Kent by Friday 31 March for a chance to win a trip for your class to one of the participating attractions!

Historic Dockyard Chatham (PDF, 84.1 KB)

As a site of Scientific Innovation for almost 400 years, the Historic Dockyard Chatham continues to inspire future generations of children and adults.

Specialist Hubs

Our specialist hubs offer a wide range of local resources and support for STEM education - our Kent STEM hub is a good starting point as is our Maths hub. There are also the Computing Hubs at Dartford Grammar School and Maidstone Grammar School for Girls.

The STEM Hub celebrates British Science Week 2023 (PDF, 87.2 KB)

To support teachers and home learners with celebrating this week, The STEM Hub has created an online virtual event on their website. This virtual resource offers interactive workshops and activities around the theme of Connections, supported by STEM Ambassadors, who are volunteering STEM professionals aiming to inspire the next generation around STEM Careers. There is also information about events that have been run (lego first league and also a call for Schools to take part in a faraday challenge.

Nuffield Research Placements, STEM Clubs Support and STEM Ambassador Programme (PDF, 95.3 KB)

The STEM hub also offers Nuffield Research Placements,  a summer research project programme based in a real STEM workplace specifically for disadvantaged Year 12 students; STEM Clubs Support, mostly free support for any teachers or schools running a STEM club; and a STEM Ambassador Programme, a free programme in which STEM industry volunteers work with young people in schools.

Maths Hub Opportunities (PDF, 102.5 KB)

The Prime Minister got everyone talking about maths education recently by re-visiting the idea that all pupils should continue to study maths until age 18. Given the challenge schools already face in recruiting specialist maths teachers, this is an ambition that will likely be difficult to realise. However it is already the case that 16 to 18 year olds in our region have the opportunity to study a range of maths courses in their school or college. Many pupils take on the challenge of Maths at A Level or as part of the International Baccalaureate qualification, some even take two Maths A-Levels by adding Further Maths.

There is another, less well known, but highly regarded, Level 3 course offered by a number of schools and colleges in the region, Core Maths. Studying Core Maths helps students develop their quantitative and problem-solving skills. It has been specifically designed with employers, universities and professional bodies to increase the employability of school leavers and apprentices.

Computing Hub (PDF, 901.1 KB)

There is a wealth of training on offer for teachers. The computing hubs at Dartford Grammar School and Maidstone Grammar School for Girls, have an exciting programme of professional development and subject support for primary and secondary schools across the South East running throughout the year.

This handy NCCE Early career support guide gives an overview of how the offer maps against each of the eight Teaching Standards and will inform how you can gain specific support against a particular standard.

Updates to the primary science scheme of work

To ensure that Kent Primary schools are well supported, the Kent Primary Science Scheme of work is being fully and comprehensively updated for 2023. Building on the knowledge and expertise in the original Kent scheme, the new scheme takes account of the latest research on effective curriculum progression in science, whilst not losing the essence of the original programme. For further details contact your TEP improvement advisor.

What is included?

  • Suggested long term planning structure between Year 1 and Year 6
  • The foundations of learning in the Early Years Foundation Stage identified for each unit with underpinning vocabulary
  • A clearly and coherently sequenced progression of substantive and disciplinary knowledge through each unit and from year to year.
  • Progression of disciplinary literacy through carefully identified key vocabulary and age-appropriate reading, talking and writing
  • Identified key misconceptions for each unit
  • Subject leader support materials
  • From 2023 professional development for teachers will be available for linked units of learning which include development of teacher subject knowledge and subject pedagogy.

TEPs EYS conference - STEM in the Early Years

STEM is not just for Primary and Secondary Schools. This year TEPs annual Early Years conference, held in February, had a specific focus on how to develop EYFS in STEM subjects. The keynote speakers included Dr Helen Williams and Dr Sue Gifford who focused on the importance of shape space and measure and how this impacted on mathematical thinking and concepts as children progressed through KS1 and KS2 and beyond. Dr Neelam Parma took us in to the future with her keynote, ‘The emergence of digital intelligence in the early years’. This keynote recognised the evolving world children live in today and their increased exposure to digital technologies in new and innovative ways. It sensitively reminded teachers and leaders, that although it was perhaps easier to teach children about their past, that we as educators it was our responsibility to prepare the children with relevant digital competencies, literacy and skill sets to get them started by providing them with both basic and advanced operational understanding and the knowledge of how to optimise the potential of technology. There was also a clear reminder that we needed children to be comfortable, safe, informed, and familiar with tech as they learn how to use them appropriately and effectively. These keynotes and the workshops available focussed the audience on the importance of STEM and how the pedagogies in EYFS lend themselves effectively to a STEM beginning for our youngest children

Practise Does Not Make Perfect! The Importance of Teaching the Multiplication Facts (PDF, 655.0 KB)

June 2022 saw the first statutory assessment of Year 4 pupils’ knowledge of the multiplication facts up to x12. This has presented many primary head teachers, and maths leaders, with their first set of measurable data on multiplication facts; not everyone has been happy with what they have seen. Despite investing in programmes that enable pupils to practise at speed in the classroom and at home, the impact has been less than might have been expected, leaving many leaders scratching their heads.

Look closely though at many of the programmes that are in use in schools, and you begin to realise that the focus is on practising the recall of multiplication facts at speed. However, you cannot recall what you have not been taught, certainly not at speed. If we look at the Teaching Sequence that is the recommended processes for securing any new learning, we see that the ‘Practise’ element is the third step in the learning journey, not the first or only step.

If you were an engineer (PDF, 2.4 MB), STATWARS (PDF, 2.3 MB) and more from the Science Hub (PDF, 147.2 KB)

Finally, the competitions I mentioned at the beginning. I am particularly excited about this as I’m on the judging panel. There is a free STEM competition that is perfect for British Science Week - ‘If you were an engineer’. It aims to bring engineering into your classroom! It is open to pupils aged 3 to 19 across the UK. The competition encourages pupils to identify problems in the world around them and come up with creative solutions. It includes certificates, curriculum-mapped lesson plans, engagement with industry engineers and so much more!  Another competition, STATWARS is also available to all schools free of charge, packed with resources and fantastic engagement opportunities with industry professionals. A STATWARS Teacher Journey (PDF, 1.1 MB) is also available.

Enjoy British Science Week!

Best wishes

Christine McInnes
Director of Education