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Nurturing new generation in STEM subjects is vital

Seeing science in action at a young age is central to nurturing growth in STEM subjects, Brunel’s Vice-chancellor and President, Professor Julia Buckingham, told a panel of experts.

Prof Buckingham was invited to discuss the issue of inspiring young people to take science, technology, engineering and maths subjects, in a round table discussion organised by the Telegraph and BAE Systems.

It follows research co-authored by CBI business group and Brunel University London, released last week, which shows that more than half of the primary school teachers surveyed believe science has become less of a priority in the past five years.

Meanwhile, more than a third of surveyed schools teaching science at Key Stage 2 don’t provide the minimum recommended two hours of science education each week.

Prof Buckingham told the panel: “Like a lot of other universities, we are engaged in outreach activity and we are keen to work with businesses to enhance that.

“We bring businesses and schools on to our campus because we have a lot of kit that the young people can play with. Something like 40 per cent of primary schools and 50 per cent of secondary schools don’t have the practical materials they need to do good practical teaching. If children don’t have the opportunity to do experiments they won’t be excited by science.”

The panel — a mix of experts from leading businesses, learning institutions and lobby groups — was challenged to answer two questions: how do we inspire young people to stick with science and maths, and how do organisations facilitate this? The panel unanimously agreed that starting young is a vital factor.

A video of the discussion is available here, while the Brunel University London and CBI report can be found here.