Survey finds teachers believe practical lessons in science and maths classes are key to encouraging students to pursue STEM careers

Published:  16 December, 2016

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 % agree that the current curriculum is failing STEM careers, while just 1 % strongly disagree.

Given only 3 % 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 % say STEM should be taught with more practical examples to bring the subject to life for students; slightly fewer, 82 % 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 % continue to support.

When asked about the role of the parent in STEM education, 63 % 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 % concurred.

Additionally, 79 % believe that students who 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 % 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 %t 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.

MathWorks is a major sponsor of Mathematics: The Winton Gallery, which opened at the Science Museum in London on 8th December 2016.

NOTES

OnePoll surveyed 150 specialist STEM teachers on behalf of MathWorks: the respondents taught students between ages 11 and 18.

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