Survey finds teachers believe practical lessons in science and maths classes are key to encouraging students to pursue STEM careers
- 87 per cent of teachers of science, maths and technology subjects agree that STEM should be taught with more practical examples to bring the subject to life for students
- 61 per cent agree that the current curriculum is failing STEM careers – just 1 per cent strongly disagreed
With fears that schools aren’t encouraging enough students to pursue a career in a science, technology, engineering or maths (STEM), MathWorks has completed research to find out if, and why, the national curriculum is not attracting young people to these subjects. MathWorks’ survey of STEM teachers found 61 per cent agree that the current curriculum is failing STEM careers, while just 1 per cent strongly disagree.
Given only 3 per cent strongly agree that they are ‘well-consulted’ by the government on the current STEM curriculum, what might teachers do to improve it? Of those questioned, 87 per cent say STEM should be taught with more practical examples to bring the subject to life for students; slightly fewer, 82 per cent also argue for greater creativity in lessons. These inclusions shouldn’t necessarily come at a detriment to traditional learning methods, such as multiplication tables, which 66 per cent continue to support.
When asked about the role of the parent in STEM education, 63 per cent of teachers argue that parents have a key role to play in the development of a student’s interest in a STEM career. Indeed, when asked about the biggest influence on a student’s career choice, parental approval came out on top. When asked, ‘Do you agree that parents could do more to encourage students to pursue STEM careers?’ not one respondent disagreed, and when questioned whether greater parental collaboration with schools is needed, 76 per cent concurred.
Additionally, 79 per cent believe that students that spend time enjoying STEM-related extracurricular activities are more engaged with STEM subjects in the classroom. This is in accord with a recent survey of STEM professionals carried out by MathWorks, in which 60 per cent said they fostered their love of their subject outside of the classroom, having enjoyed extra-curricular activities like the Science Museum with their families.
Also in parallel with the STEM professionals survey, 55 per cent of teachers argue that students typically start taking an interest in career choices during Key Stage 3 or earlier. This is, therefore, the best time to stimulate children to develop a love of STEM.