Stepping up to STEM: Inspiring the bright sparks of tomorrow

·      Science, Technology andMaths are among pupils’ favourite school subjects, but girls remain lessswitched on to STEM subjects than boys

·      One in six pupils don’tknow which subjects to take at GCSE, A Level or university to enhance theirfuture career prospects

·      Two thirds of parentsdescribe their understanding of STEM subjects as ‘average’ or ‘poor’

·      E.ON teams up withtechnology journalist and TV presenter Maggie Philbin to provide hands-on STEMactivities and boost interest among children


New research fromE.ON(1) shows that, contrary to common perceptions, STEM subjects (Science,Technology, Engineering and Maths) are among pupils’ favourites at school, butthere’s a clear gap between subjects pupils enjoy themselves, and the ones thatthey think are most popular among their classmates:


Pupils’ favourite subjects

1.       Maths (40%)

2.       English (35%)

3.       ICT/Computing (32%)

4.       Science (32%)

5.       Art & Design (23%)


Subjects pupils think are popular with classmates

1.       PE (20%)

2.       ICT/Computing (19%)

3.       Drama (10%)

4.       Science (7%)

5.       Music (7%)


The research, whichpolled 2,000 children aged between 8 and 15, finds that whilst Maths is themost popular overall, it’s still a more popular subject for boys than girls (46%compared to 34%). It’s a similar story for ICT/Computing which is almost twiceas popular with boys as it is girls (40% compared to 24%). English was girls’favourite subject (42% compared to 28% of boys), indicating a gender imbalancewhen it comes to more technical subjects.


E.ON has teamedup with technology journalist and TV presenter, Maggie Philbin, to help make STEM subjects more engaging for youngpeople and to improve their employability for the future. 


Maggie Philbin says: “It’sfantastic that pupils are enjoying Maths and Science, but it seems there couldbe an element of stigma associated with STEM subjects as many pupils seem tothink more physical lessons, like PE and Drama, come top of the list their schoolfriends most enjoy. It’s also worrying that girls don’t rate STEM subjects ashighly as boys do, and that’s why we need to ensure that schools, parents andbusinesses all work together to inspire pupils to become the engineers, scientistsand innovators of the future”.


A steer on careers

Further research byE.ON amongst children aged between 16 and 18 shows the importance of keeping STEMsubjects enjoyable for both boys and girls in order to encourage them to choosethese options at GCSE, A Level and university stage.


That’s becauseaccording to the research, pupils in this age group are most likely to progresstheir studies in subjects that they either enjoy (71%) or are best at (57%), ratherthan choosing subjects they think will support their future career paths (29%).


This indicates a lackof clarity among young people when it comes to planning for their future careers:

·      one in six (15%) pupils say that they don’t know which subjects theyneed to choose at GCSE or A Level to support their future career path, withgirls being more likely than boys to be unsure (17% of girls compared with 12%of boys);

·      pupils voted STEM related careers, including vet (10%), doctor/nurse(6%), scientist (6%), teacher or academic (6%) among their dream jobs, but afailure to choose these subjects at GCSE or A Level  could limit their career options further downthe line;

·      one in ten (10%) say that they don’t think they need to consider future careerchoices yet;

·      a similar proportion (11%) say they haven’t yet received careers adviceor support to help them plan their next steps.


“Planning acareer can be a daunting prospect for anyone,” continues Maggie Philbin. “That’s why it’s crucial we offer pupils adviceearly on, so they can make the right choices now to pave the way for later. E.ON’sresearch shows that pupils, especially girls, may not be considering STEMsubjects at GCSE or A Level without realising that this could limit theircareer opportunities further down the line.”


The stats fromE.ON come after a recent survey by the CBI(2) revealed that aroundtwo in five employers (43%) have difficulty recruiting staff with expertise inSTEM subjects, with over half (52%) expecting this to become an issue in thenext three years.


A helping hand with homework

A separate new surveyby E.ON of 1,000 parents to children aged 8-15 reveals that:

·      almost half (48%) of parents say their children ask for help withhomework at least once a week, especially when it comes to Maths (53%) andScience (20%);

·      three in four (71%) parents say they’ve felt out of their depth whenhelping their children with homework;

·      almost two thirds of parents describe their understanding of Science,Technology, Engineering and Maths as ‘average’ or ‘poor’ (63%), with just 7%saying they feel confident helping their children with all subjects, and arounda quarter worrying they’re giving their children the wrong advice (22%).


Fiona Stark, Director of Corporate Affairs at E.ON,said: “Our research shows that a good proportion of pupilsare really engaged with Science, Maths and Technology which is hugelyencouraging. However, the data also tells us that there’s more we can do tohelp bring STEM subjects to life for pupils and get them really excited aboutthe doors this can open for their future careers.


“Our ‘E.ON EnergyExperience’ educational programme offers online learning which anyone canaccess, as well as drama sessions and hands-on workshops to really help bringSTEM subjects to life for pupils for all ages. Through programmes like this, webelieve that businesses can really help pupils develop the STEM skills theyneed to flourish in the classroom now and later on in their working lives too.”  


To find out more about E.ON’s Energy Experiencevisit eonenergy.com/about-eon/community



Notes to editors

1.    Statsbased on the following research which was conducted for E.ON by OnePoll amongthree audience groups:

·       2,000 pupils aged 8-15 (23rd–29th July 2015);

·       500 pupils aged 16-18 (23rd – 28th July 2015);

·       1,000 parents of children aged 8-15 (between 23rd – 28thJuly 2015);

2.    Source: cbi.org.uk/business-issues/education-and-skills/in-focus/education-and-skills-survey/


About E.ON’s Energy Experience

The EnergyExperience aims to:

·       Enhance pupils’ learning in STEM subjects by creating workshops thatcultivate a passion for these areas. Since October 2014 1,700 pupils have takenpart in a variety of STEM related activities.  

·       Help teachers and parents to teach young people about energy throughonline resources for 5-16 year olds, teaching handbooks, volunteering and liveevents.

·       Help prepare young people for the world of work through the E.ON YouthPathway - a hub to develop employability skills such as personal brand,confidence building, team work, communication and working with others. E.ON plansto deliver Youth Pathway training to almost 100 young people aged 14-18 in2015.


For more information contact:

Naomi Troy: 02476180523 / naomi.troy@eon-uk.com

Jag Bickham: 02476 181 308 / jag.bickham@eon-uk.com


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