Headmaster encourages industry to improve female recruitment
The Headmaster of a Shropshire girls’ school has called on industry to be more proactive in tackling the shortage of women in science and engineering based jobs.
Gary Wright, who leads Adcote School near Shrewsbury, said the success of his students who are achieving above the national average in science and maths, isn’t being translated into science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) industries where women make up less than 15 per cent* of the workforce.
Last year 88 per cent of students at the day and boarding school, achieved A* – C grades at GCSE biology compared to the 75 per cent national average. In chemistry it was 86 per cent, compared to the national 77 per cent, and in physics it was 83 per cent, compared to 75 per cent nationally.
At A Level, girls also exceed the national pass rates with 100 per cent achieving an A* – C grade in biology versus the national rate of 72 per cent and similarly in physics, where nationally 75 per cent of students achieve those grades.
It was a similar story in maths GCSE with 90 per cent achieving A*-C compared to 70.2 per cent nationally. Next year the highest achieving year 11 pupils will also be offered a Free Standing Maths Qualification (FSMQ), which is a bridge course to A Level.
The school has recently added Astronomy as an option at GCSE and offers further Maths at A Level. It has also invested £2.1 million in creating a specialist Science Centre.
Mr Wright said that students’ potential was not always being fully utilised, particularly as many girls are going on to study STEM subjects at university such as molecular biology, medical physics and maths and computer science.
“It is a strange anomaly that girls, particularly those in single sex schools, consistently outperform boys in STEM subjects yet their presence in the workforce is minimal,” he said.
“Universities are keen to recruit our students onto STEM related courses that are traditionally dominated by men, especially when their results are so good. But somehow that is not yet being translated into equivalent numbers in the workforce.
“It seems at odds with the statistics and frustrating for a school like ours that is producing high achieving students who could be a valuable asset to industry.”
During British Science Week, Adcote will host free science activities for potential pupils as part of an open afternoon on March 15.
It will include an energy science master class for Year 5 and 6 pupils and their parents, a science lecture, demonstrations and interactive experiments.
Mr Wright added: “We are playing our part in preparing girls for a future in the STEM industries by organising free events such as those in British Science Week.
“It encourages girls to develop an interest in subjects that were traditionally seen as more male focused and hopefully encourage them to follow through at GCSE and A Level.
“Ultimately we hope our efforts will be rewarded with many more women being employed in the science, technology and engineering sectors. But that remains to be seen.”
To register for the open day or activities, email email@example.com or contact 01939 260202. For more information, go to www.adcoteschool.co.uk or follow the school on Twitter @adcoteschool or Facebook.