There is a critical shortage of science, technology engineering and maths (STEM) specialists teaching in UK schools. This problem is especially acute for schools serving low-income communities, where recruiting and retaining high quality teachers is often more challenging.
In recent years, this shortage in STEM teachers has meant that schools in low-income communities have significantly underperformed in these subjects. Less than a third of students eligible for free schools meals achieve a science GCSE at grade A*-C, compared with 70% of their wealthier peers and less half of these young people achieve a maths GCSE above a D grade.
In turn, there is now a serious shortage of home-grown STEM graduates, creating a worrying skills gap in the UK. A recent report warned that 40,000 additional STEM graduates are needed each year to fill the 104,000 graduate-level jobs our economy requires.
Without these STEM specialists, businesses will not be able to achieve the economic growth they, and the UK economy, require.
At Teach First, we recognise the need to have a diverse range of STEM teachers working in schools serving low-income communities to help inspire young people from all backgrounds to study STEM subjects. This is why our partnership with Bloomberg – The Bloomberg STEM Excellence Programme – is so crucially important.
Now in its third year, The Bloomberg STEM Excellence Programme has helped contribute towards the recruitment, training and placing of close to 1,000 new STEM teachers in classrooms up and down the country.
Reflecting the culturally rich and diverse communities we work with, 62% of these new teachers are female; approximately 15% are from ethnic minority backgrounds and around a quarter were eligible for free school meals themselves when they were at school.
Teach First STEM teachers are raising the profile of STEM subjects amongst young people across the UK to ensure that we have the pipeline of talent our economy urgently needs. Bloomberg are leading the way in addressing this issue and will hopefully motivate more businesses to do the same.