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Northumbria doubles the number of schools receiving science support

Press release   •   Apr 11, 2019 16:34 BST

Battle Hill Primary School pupil Caitlyn Bestford taking part in one of NUSTEM's workshops

Thousands more primary school children across the North East will be encouraged to explore opportunities in science, technology, engineering and maths after Northumbria University received more than £300,000 additional funding to expand its work in this area.

The University’s NUSTEM group aims to inspire future generations of scientists and engineers. It provides interesting educational sessions to engage more young people in science, technology, engineering and maths, known as STEM subjects; and works to encourage more female students and under-represented groups to study STEM subjects in universities.

More than £300,000 has been awarded to NUSTEM in recent months, enabling NUSTEM to more than double the number of primary and secondary schools it works with in the North East, increasing from 15 to 33.

The Reece Foundation has awarded £179,000 that will allow NUSTEM to continue its current work in 15 partner primary schools until December 2020. A further award of £122,000 from the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC) means NUSTEM can work with eight new primary schools over the next three years. This funding has been awarded to encourage children to engage with the work of the STFC and will be used to deliver activities that focus on satellites and earth observation.

In addition, the University is increasing the amount of funding it provides to NUSTEM in recognition of the scheme’s success in raising aspirations in young children in STEM subject areas. The University’s investment will enable the team to work with a further ten new primary schools in the region.

Since its launch five years ago, almost 40,000 school children, teachers and family members have participated in NUSTEM-led activity sessions in schools and at community events. NUSTEM also provides a continuing professional development training programme for teachers to help them to become more confident in delivering STEM-focussed sessions in the classroom.

Dr Carol Davenport, Director of NUSTEM, said: “Our project was designed to raise aspirations of young children in the North East in STEM subjects, and to help them make informed choices about future careers. We work closely with schools and parents on careers-focused, curriculum inspired workshops.

“What makes NUSTEM different is that we start working with children from a very young age, from three-years-old, and with their teachers and families. Our research shows that we need to work with children from an early age on a long-term basis as they start thinking about what they would like to do when they are older.”

Battle Hill Primary School in Wallsend is one of the schools currently benefitting from the workshops delivered by NUSTEM. Their Science Coordinator, Karen Straughan, said: “Working with NUSTEM over the last five years has been great for our school. The workshops support all children right across the school, from our youngest to our oldest. We’re also working with them to support families and teachers through workshops and staff training. We’re excited that so many more schools will get to benefit from the project.”

Northumbria University has invested heavily in STEM facilities for students in recent years. Thanks to support from the Higher Education Funding Council for England, £6.7 million was invested in facilities including a wind tunnel, a scanning electron microscope and an engine test cell facility.

Last year the University opened a new £7 million building kitted with the latest technology for students on its computing and information sciences courses and in February it opened the doors to stunning new studio spaces for students studying architecture and built environment. The studios were designed by award-winning architects Page\Park and feature innovative light-filled, flexible studio and exhibition spaces.

Northumbria is a research-rich, business-focused, professional university with a global reputation for academic excellence. To find out more about our courses go to

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