Success for our STEM Champions in Out of School Care

Two years ago we started a pilot training and research project which aimed to address the gender and disadvantage gap in STEM. We wanted to find out if we trained and equipped staff in out of school care with new STEM skills in playful creative activities if that could make a positive difference for children. This was funded through the Scottish Government Children, Young People and Families Early Intervention Project Fund.

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Age and Gender

Given that we know that older children often want new and more challenging activities, we targeted children aged 8 or over. Our recent large children's survey also showed a gender gap in that girls were much less likely than boys to choose STEM type activities like Lego, so we wanted the new activities to appeal to the female staff and girls as well as the men and boys.

The Training Courses

In the first year we ran three courses, a 10 week evening class, then 4 all day Saturdays Creative Computing course, using the Raspberry Pi and simple coding games, developed to our specification by Dr Amanda Ford of West College Scotland, and a 12 week more general STEM course by Glasgow Clyde College which included topics such as forensics and outdoor play. For the second year, we ran two ten week courses at West College Scotland, and Amanda went to Aberdeen to run 4 all day Saturday courses.

The Creative Computing course was the best course for student feedback and indeed gained a commended award from the College Development Network. All students on this course got a STEM backpack filled with everything they needed to work with the children in delivering the activities, and instructions on how to do our simple before and after surveys with the children.

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The Research with children

Thanks to the hard work of the course lecturers, all of the 70 students involved over the two years and the children who have filled in our survey forms and helped with the research we now have exciting results to share from the first year of delivery. There are still a hundred or more surveys coming in for the second year and they will be added once all are collected. Children also filled in their own learning logs and students, with permission, have shared some photos with us.

  • Of the 70 students registered across all STEM courses in year 1 and 2, 64% worked in services located in Deciles 5 or lower in terms of the Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation.
  • 81% of all registered students were female and 19% male.
  • 51% girls 49% boys completed 430 surveys.
  • 76% aged 8 or over.
  • A shift from 62% of children to 84% of children agreeing they know what STEM means before and after the STEM activities.
  • Children's confidence in doing STEM activities increased from 70% pre-activity to 83% post activity.
  • Children's confidence in sharing STEM skills increased from 56% to 72% pre and post STEM Activity.
  • Overall 91% of children taking part agreed that they want to do more STEM activities.
  • 86% of children agreed that they have gained new skills doing the STEM activities; significantly this goes up to 89% of girls taking part compared to 83% of boys.
Next Steps

We are very grateful for the Scottish Government funding which made this research and training pilot possible. The courses and equipment provided were not cheap to run; however, we know that many of the students are now sharing skills with colleagues so the work is being cascaded, indeed at least one child and likely many more are also teaching others their new STEM skills.

We will look for other funding sources and discuss with the college a way to make STEM training a bit more affordable as we think there is a real appetite amongst the staff and children in out of school care for this kind of training. We will do a more detailed final report once we have all the results in and explain more about the actual STEM activities children learned.

In the meantime for more information here are links to the summary one page report, the full report, and our thank you poster.


STEM Interim Results - Year 1 - poster (PDF 0.3MB)

STEM Interim Results - Year 1 - children's poster (PDF 0.3MB)

STEM Interim Results - Year 1 - full version (PDF 4.6MB)

STEM Interim Results - Year 1 - report only (PDF 1MB)

STEM Interim Results - Year 1 - appendix only (PDF 3.6MB)

Thank you all the STEM Champions and children who helped with this work, you have all made a real difference.

Irene Audain MBE Chief Executive, SOSCN, April 2019

last updated: 16/04/2019