The Sutton Trust – Pathways to STEM

Supporting students from low-income backgrounds to study Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics

When Anurag and Soma settled in London, they began looking around the UK for ways to continue the Trust’s work to improve access to opportunity and education. In collaboration with The Sutton Trust the Pathways to STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) programme was designed to support academically able, low and middle-income state school students to access the most selective STEM university courses. Between December 2015 and August 2020, the Pathways to STEM grant of £322,000 will support 300 students from coalfield communities in Nottinghamshire and South Yorkshire.

Along the same vein

‘Anurag’s father was a mining engineer, and he grew up close to coal mining regions in India’ says Soma, our Executive Trustee, ‘so we naturally took an interest in similar regions around the UK’.  Previous research by the Sutton Trust (a foundation which improves social mobility in the UK through evidence-based programmes, research and policy advocacy) identified a demand for STEM graduates in UK industries, but found there was a significant under-representation of students from low socio-economic backgrounds. We supported the implementation of Pathways to STEM by the Universities of York and Nottingham, aiming to boost the aspirations and academic performance of 300 academically able low-income students in years 10 – 13. The programme teaches them the skills they need to access the most selective STEM degrees, and the wide range of careers they open up.

  • 300 students will enroll on the programme between December 2015 and August 2020.
  • The programme is delivered in partnership with the University of Nottingham and the University of York.
  • Pathways to STEM includes tailored education and careers advice, academic classes in STEM subjects, sessions to develop non-academic skills, a residential summer school, e-mentoring and industry exposure.

Looking at the road ahead

Launch events took place at the Universities of Nottingham and York from January to March 2016 with practical workshops including 3-D printing, testing blood types and extracting DNA from fruit. University undergrads led interactive sessions in the participating schools in coalfield communities, covering subject areas like chemistry, infectious diseases and medicine. The programme itself saw a range of sessions for students, parents and teachers. They include tailored education and careers advice, academic classes in STEM subjects, sessions to develop non-academic skills, a residential summer school, information on student finance, work experience in a relevant STEM setting, mentoring, and a graduation event for students and parents. After visiting the participating schools mid-way through the programme, Libby our Head of Grants said, ‘Pathways to STEM seemed like the perfect match – to support young people who might not otherwise go to University, together with STEM subjects where there is a need for a larger workforce. When I visited the programme it was clear to see the impact it is having on the young people.’

‘We are pleased to be working with the Kusuma Trust UK on our Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) projects, and are very grateful for their financial support which will allow us to bring our life changing programmes to more disadvantaged children and young people. We’re particularly pleased to be piloting the extension of our Pathways model to pre-GCSE years, which will enable us to benefit younger people.’

Sir Peter Lampl, Chairman of the Sutton Trust

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