The IET: Education New Stats

The IET: Education New Stats


A new report from The IET, "Inspiring the next generation of engineers", suggests children’s interest in Science is down with time pressures to teach full curriculum a crucial factor.

Children’s intruige towards Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) is dow, with interest in Science amongst 9-12 year olds falling 10%, Design and Technology down 12% and ICT t at 14% just in the last four years, new research uncovers.

The Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) poll, which also surveyed primary and secondary teachers’ thoughts on STEM education, also found that time pressures were the biggest obstacle in engaging pupils in STEM subjects, this equated to 72% of primary and 63% of secondary teachers, and could likely be linked to the sharp decline.

More than half of primary school teachers (57%) also reported poor resources as a factor, seeing as in general primary schools are far less well funded than secondary schools. Class distractions (42%) and a lack of interest from the pupil (42%) provide the biggest difficulties for secondary teachers according to the study.

This poses some concern for the future of careers in STEM fields where reliance on Physics still remains a key requirement. What more can be done to support the education system in boosting the children’s interests in STEM related subjects?

David Lakin, IET Head of Education, said: “After parents, teachers are the next major influence of children, especially at primary age, where the presence of an inspirational teacher can set up patterns for life." Lakin believes that by getting parents to infuence an interest in STEM related subjects from an early age and at home not during school hours, then the interest in STEM subjects for children should begin to go on the rise again.

It does seem however that positive perceptions of engineering and technology careers are on the up with more than half of children describing engineering as skilled, followed by around two in five who think they are interesting, difficult, creative or important with words such as messy and dirty on the decline. This is likely due to the closing gender gaps in the feilds and the reduction in the idea that these fengineering and technology jobs are "mans jobs". 

When looking at children’s career aspirations on average girls are more interested in the Arts, Education and Childcare, Healthcare, Hair and Beauty and Agriculture, whereast boys are much more interested in ICT, Engineering, Technology, Sport, Construction and Property and Public Services. So there is still some way to go in terms of closing that gender gap. 

Parents mirror their children’s views on their perception of engineering and technology careers, which is to be expected due to the generation gap, however there is still a gap in knowledge with more than one in five parents feeling unable to support their child should they ask for advice about careers in this field. A lack of a loved ones in depth knowledge in a subject or feild could play a key part in the reason for a lack of interest in these fields, if no one is ther eto explain it to the child they are obviously going to loose interest and even grow frustrated with the topic, creating a negative thought processs surrounding it.

When parents think about their child’s career, very clear gender stereotypes present. Parents of girls think they would be most interested in the Arts, Education and Childcare, Healthcare and Hair and Beauty, whilst parents of boys think they would most like to go into Technology, Information Technology, Engineering, and Sport.

The full report, Inspiring the Next generation of Engineers, is available here.

Tuesday, 27 August 2019

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