Let Teachers SHINE winner 2022: Rachel Major – STEAM Scouts

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A secondary school teacher has won funding to develop her project which aims to get more young people into science, technology, engineering, art and maths (STEAM).

Rachel Major, from Horbury Academy in Wakefield, is passionate about challenging the stereotypes that exist about careers in these STEAM subjects.

Through her STEAM Scouts programme, Rachel will target pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds with the aim of increasing their aspirations and engagement in these subjects, while at the same time tackling some of the stereotypes associated with STEAM careers.

The project will also support primary school pupils preparing to make the move to secondary, by introducing them to STEAM in a fun and engaging way, all based on an annual theme.

One session involving nine- and ten-year-olds will see science, maths and English departments joining forces for a half-day themed around Harry Potter and Hogwarts.

The children will be taught how to test acid and alkalis, presented as though it is a magic lesson at Hogwarts. They’ll see how dry ice works, use Bunsen burners and investigate chemical reactions, all based on the theme for 2022/2023: The Science Behind Stories.

And rather than teachers delivering the sessions, the lessons will be led by children from the secondary school.

Rachel says the concept benefits both the younger children, and their older peers. Primary pupils will develop an early interest in science, maths, and technology, while secondary pupils will build confidence and knowledge through preparing and delivering lessons.

“It’s about creating a STEAM culture in our academy trust, and throughout our community” explained Rachel.

“I hope to inspire pupils from diverse backgrounds to take up a career in STEAM after school.

“We need diverse people in these careers. We need more females and more diverse minorities working in these positions to support progression in science and model to young people they all are capable of going into any role.

“Sometimes we get lost in numbers and attainment scores and with that, we sometimes forget about the enjoyment that is needed in science education. But it’s important, because if students enjoy something, they’re going to want to learn more and they’re more likely to remember it.”

If the project proves to be a success, Rachel hopes to expand it into other schools and the local community, and perhaps create an online platform that makes the programme easily accessible.

Her ultimate aim is for more pupils to apply for STEAM subjects in post 16 and then pursue careers in those areas. “That is going to do wonders for the skills gap that exists at present in the UK,” she said.

Rachel said she was “so proud” to have received the Let Teachers SHINE award from education charity SHINE.

“I’m not just proud of myself, and the work that I’ve achieved, but I also have so much pride in my pupils, because I wouldn’t have got to this point without them,” she said.

“I’m absolutely thrilled that I’ve got this far and I’m so proud to be working with SHINE.”