Evaluation of the Wellcome Trust Camden STEM Initiative

Suzanne Straw, Ruth Hart, Shona Macleod

01 June 2012

Full report on the Wellcome Trust websiteExecutive summary on the Wellcome Trust website

This report presents the findings of NFER’s evaluation of the Wellcome Trust’s Camden science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) Initiative, which provided funding to eight Camden schools to develop interdisciplinary projects between 2009 and 2011. By the end of the Initiative, impressive progress had been made by all eight schools and there is substantial evidence of very effective collaborative and participatory practice in delivering STEM interdisciplinary activities.

Key Findings

  • Outcomes for pupils included: raised awareness and enjoyment of, and engagement in, STEM subjects; development of transferable skills useful for future study and employment e.g. communication, teamwork, problem solving, planning and organisation, research, and time management; increased understanding of the links between the STEM subjects, especially between mathematics and other STEM subjects; greater interest and awareness of STEM careers
  • The outcomes for teachers ranged from improved relationships with staff in other STEM departments to increased awareness of the curriculum in other STEM subjects and higher expectations of what pupils can achieve
  • Schools’ outcomes included closer links between the STEM departments at teacher level, increased confidence of teachers in cross-departmental working and a perception of improved staff retention through new challenges and professional development
  • Key areas of successful project activity included: the commitment of senior leaders to the STEM agenda and their support of staff and activities; having a designated STEM; Coordinator or STEM leads in each department who could take responsibility for the work; regular, designated time off-timetable for planning or paying for supply cover to allow meetings to take place in school time; practical activities, group working, problem solving, researching and debating especially when set in real-life contexts.
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