Mar 7, 2022
The engineering workforce in the UK lacks diversity, with a number of groups underrepresented in engineering and other STEM careers. EngineeringUK has an ambition to address this problem by inspiring and informing more young people from these underrepresented groups through participation in high quality STEM and engineering engagement programmes.
In autumn 2020, EngineeringUK created a set of equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI) criteria to identify schools with larger proportions of students from groups underrepresented in engineering. Following these EDI criteria, EngineeringUK targeted the promotion of its programmes to schools who met the EDI criteria.
The delivery of the EDI bursary scheme
The EDI bursary scheme was established for schools that meet the EDI criteria. Bursaries were intended to help EDI schools overcome barriers to participation in EngineeringUK programmes, including the EEP Robotics Challenge, Big Bang at School and to engage with experiences on the Neon website.
Despite the delay and disruption caused to schools by the Covid-19 pandemic, 151 schools received a bursary of £300 to £700 between autumn 2020 and summer 2021. Of these, 50 schools completed a STEM engagement programme during the 2020/21 academic year and more will follow in 2021/22.
All schools receiving the bursary met the EngineeringUK EDI criteria. Over half (52%) of the schools have significantly above national average proportions of young people eligible for free school meals.
The use of the bursary
The most common use for the EDI bursary was for specialist equipment to support the activity, with the next most common being materials and resources (including general resources, such as printing). Many schools also spent bursary money on high quality engineering and engineering related digital content. A high proportion of schools who received a bursary for Neon provision intended to spend it on paying for the activity itself.
The bursaries made a noticeable impact
Feedback was collected through a teacher survey and focus groups after schools had completed the programme for which they received a bursary.
There is some evidence from the teacher survey that the bursary made it more likely that the school would take part in the programme. 18% of schools participating in the Robotics Challenge and 27% of Big Bang at School schools strongly agreed on this. There is also evidence that the bursary motivated the school to take part, with 37% of Robotics schools and 27% of Big Bang at School schools agreeing.
Comments in the focus groups indicated that some teachers felt that participation in the programme was made possible by the bursary. It was made clear that bursaries allowed schools to improve the richness of the experience for students and make it more engaging. 59% of Robotics Challenge and 45% of Big Bang at School teachers strongly agreed that the bursary ‘meant that my students had a better experience of [the programme] than they otherwise would have’.
Teacher feedback also indicated the bursary made it possible for them to involve more young people from underrepresented groups. 41% of Robotics Challenge and 55% of Big Bang at School schools strongly agreed the bursary ‘allowed my school to involve more students from underrepresented backgrounds’.
Read the full 2021 EDI bursary evaluation report.< Back to News & Views