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The Big Bang Fair, London

Engaging young people in a vision for science and maths education

The Royal Society held a workshop with the British Science Association’s CREST Youth Panel, a group of 13-19 year old science, mathematics and technology advocates from across the UK.  The British Science Association’s CREST Youth Panel told the Vision team at The Big Bang Fair in March why it was important to learn science and maths, what science and maths should be taught in the future, how it should be taught, and who should be teaching it.

Facilitated by Kate Bellingham (TV presenter, engineer and physics teacher), the session provoked thoughtful debate on what the future of science and mathematics education should look like, culminating in the creation of a “manifesto for science and mathematics education”, aimed at senior UK politicians.

The CREST Youth Panel Manifesto 

  • We should learn science and mathematics to develop problem-solving mindsets, which ultimately will allow us to solve the technical and scientific problems of the future.
  • We should have the opportunity to learn in different ways outside of school instead of just needing to learn at school, from a teacher. This will help us become more independent learners.
  •  Science and maths should be taught in the context of current affairs and problems.
  • Science and maths education should be better related in the classroom to the careers that could result from studying specific aspects of science and maths.
  • We should have the option to learn what we want, to the level we want, instead of what the curriculum says we should learn.
  • We should be able to choose how to show off our knowledge ie the assessment system should be more fluid, allowing us to enter exams how we want (eg a physics oral exam?).
  • A new way of assessing students should also be less reliant on exams (eg continuous assessment throughout the year).
  • Students’ personalities should be matched with their teachers’ personalities and methods; year groups should be divided to reflect this (eg some people are visual/kinaesthetic/auditory).
  • There should be a new way of assessing teachers on how passionate they are about the subject they teach.
  • Young people should have the opportunity to input into UK-wide government decisions on education (eg a panel of students from different regions or backgrounds providing ideas).

Watch the video below for highlights from the workshop.

Having your say - young people, parents, teachers and employers tell the Vision team what they think

Here, Paul Jackson, Chief Executive of EngineeringUK, the organisers of the Fair, explains why he thinks it is important to learn science and maths, how young people can best prepare themselves for a career in these areas, and which new ways of learning he envisages in the future:

Here we find out people’s views on the importance of learning science and maths, the future challenges and problems they think science can help us find solutions to, and who they think learning science and maths will be particularly important for – all citizens or just the experts?

In this video we ask what makes a great teacher, explore ways of learning science and maths that might become more common over the next 15-20 years – and uncover how young people think they learn best and what they enjoy most about learning these subjects, which could inform how science is taught in the future:

Employers and current apprentices tell us about the importance of multiple study and career pathways for students wishing to enter science- and technology-based careers, and how industry could play a bigger role in science and maths education over the next 15-20 years:

What are your thoughts on the topics raised above? Post your ideas on our discussion board.