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View from the classroom

View from the classroom T

his month, Education Today speaks to Emma Wilkinson, head of science at

Archbishop Blanch School in Liverpool, about the school’s focus on STEM and how they are developing the future generation of female STEM leaders.

Tell us about your school Archbishop Blanch is a Church of England all-girls comprehensive school for 11-18 year olds (with a mixed sixth form) in the centre of Liverpool. In September 2015 we moved to a brand new

£16 million school complete with a new theatre, recording and dance studios together with state of the art sports facilities.

Why did you decide to start your series of STEM Careers Talks? We have had a lot of pupils over the years come to the science staff for advice on careers. Sometimes they can be girls who really want to make a difference to society and would like to be a medical doctor, only realising later that they may not get the academic grades required for entry to medicine. It seemed that many of them had latched onto the idea of medicine because they don’t really know any other science based career options. Some who then realise that medicine, for them, is not a likely option will change their plans to nursing. It struck us that there were so many other great STEM careers that the girls in our school were unaware of and we should be showing them the options available before they reach sixth form so that they can begin weighing up options and ensuring they have relevant work experience if possible. So far we have had careers talks from

professionals and also ex-pupils who are at university. We have covered a range of careers including Medicine, Diagnostic Radiography, Operating Theatre Practitioner, Dietician, Pharmacy, Drug Research and Development and Research Physicist.

Why is promoting STEM learning important? STEM learning is crucial if we are to supply the workforce of the future. Obviously we place a strong emphasis on the links between the sciences, maths and DT and the skills that are in demand in STEM careers, but it is important that our pupils realise that there is so much beyond becoming a doctor or a nurse! We have tried to focus on healthcare related careers as that is an important area of work for many of our young people, but have also managed to ensure that we have covered a wider range of talks as so often pupils are unaware that these career opportunities even exist.

How have your pupils responded to the talks? There has been a very positive response, and it has been great to see pupils from different year groups, and all at different stages of their career choices gaining so much from these talks. It has certainly prompted much discussion among groups of students when they realise the global links that science has. For instance they thought that a dietician worked in a GP surgery or in the hospital and supported patients with diabetes and other similar disorders. The dietician we asked to come into school works for a locally based company with links worldwide. She has been involved in the ground-breaking research and

20 April 2016

development of medicinal foods that can be used by patients with severe and life threatening metabolic disorders such as glycogen storage disease. Pupils have realised the wide range of careers

and university courses available, and have begun researching entry requirements at an earlier stage, which means they are better prepared when they begin making university choices and completing their personal statements for UCAS.

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