Embedding STEM in the curriculum for ALL secondary school students


The Connecting STEM Teachers celebration event today (9 July) featured excellent presentations from teachers and students showing just what ‘blended’ STEM can achieve. The benefits of the interaction between science, mathematics and design & technology were clear for all to see. But, and it’s a big but, nearly all the examples were concerned with extra-curricular activities. In no way do I want to rain on Dominic Nolan’s parade here, his Connecting STEM Teachers Project is absolutely top notch but to impact on large numbers of students STEM needs to operate in the mainstream curriculum. Easier said than done some say but there are ways to achieve this and enhance attainment across the piece without disrupting the timetable. This is explained at length in Teaching STEM in the Secondary School Helping Teachers meet the challenge. What emerged at the celebration event was the impact of the EBacc on the KS4 option structure. It’s here that we need to focus our attention so that the offering to students encourages and enables those who are taking three sciences to also take design & technology. Option choice structures that facilitate this need to be developed and disseminated so that STEM in the main stream can become a reality rather than a wish. As always comments welcome.

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2 thoughts on “Embedding STEM in the curriculum for ALL secondary school students

  1. The sort of activities that Alan is describing are first rate but they do take a lot of effort and organization. This is a big ask for many schools so for me the key thing is to find ways of doing ‘blended’ STEM within each of the contributing subjects that involve minimal disruption and not too much in the way of effort. Such an approach allows schools to dip their toes into the STEM waters without much in the way of risk and from such tentative beginnings blended STEM can grow to become embedded in the curriculum. Frank Banks and I called in ‘teaching in the light of STEM’. Described in detail in our STEM book of course!

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  2. I completely agree with David B on this one. It should be possible to integrate DT into a STEM school wide curriculum which would elevate the subjects status and make it more relevant and appealing to both students and parents.
    We know that there is already excellent examples happening in schools but, I suspect from experience, that they are isolated and rare. I was involved in a recent scheme of work development (in Wales) where we successfully integrated a wind turbine project across Science, DT and Geography. This was highly successful but had its issues regarding teacher participation, particularly the Maths dept, who were not interested in participating.
    I believe that to be successful, STEM curriculum embedding would have to be a whole school initiative, attracting reasonable funding, and support additional CPD.
    I’m sure that it is possible but the hurdles are significant and require creative planning driven by SMT.

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