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BAE Systems’ Group MD Calls for more science in inner city schools

Pupils at the Sacred Heart Roman Catholic School
London, UK – A renewed focus on science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) in inner city schools could be a great motivator for disaffected young people as well as helping to increase the nation’s skills base necessary for economic growth said Nigel Whitehead, Group Managing Director at BAE Systems.

At the launch of this year’s BAE Systems Engineering Roadshow at the Sacred Heart Roman Catholic College in Southwark, London, Mr Whitehead stressed the need to make STEM accessible and relevant for young people from a diverse range of backgrounds. According to some new research conducted by the Royal Academy of Engineering*, 58% of pupils eligible for free school meals did not achieve Grades A-C in GCSE Mathematics and children from minority ethnic backgrounds are disproportionately over-represented in the cohort which does not achieve Grades A-C in sciences at GCSE.

To help address these types of issues, BAE Systems’ annual Engineering Roadshow, which is delivered in partnership with the Royal Air Force (RAF), is working closer than ever before with inner city schools. The Roadshow will spend a week each in schools in Birmingham, Cardiff, Glasgow, Leeds, London, Liverpool, Manchester and Newcastle. Over the next ten months the initiative will reach more than 25,000 young people from over 240 schools nationwide. More than 160,000 young people have seen the Roadshow since it was first launched in 2005.

Mr Whitehead said:

“The Sacred Heart Roman Catholic School in Southwark is a fantastic example of what can be achieved with a focus on science, technology, engineering and maths teaching. However we know that an additional 514,000 science and technology professionals will be needed in the UK by 2017 yet almost half of 7 -11 year olds surveyed described a career in engineering as ‘boring’. I’m convinced that if industry, schools and the Government continue to work together to change their perception, all our young people, whatever their backgrounds, could benefit from learning more about science, technology, engineering and maths and the exciting career opportunities these subjects offer.”

Air Commodore Nigel Beet, OBE, Assistant Chief of Staff Personnel Policy at the Royal Air Force, added:

"The existing partnership the RAF has developed with BAE Systems continues to deliver exciting opportunities. Promoting the value of academic studies – especially within STEM subjects is a key area of our shared work.The RAF seeks to attract world-class engineering skills in order to support a wide array of technologically advanced aircraft and integral operating systems.Our shared Roadshow with BAE Systems will provide an excellent platform from which to promote the skills necessary for a successful engineering career. I am especially pleased with this latest initiative as it will deliver a first-rate opportunity for young people to engage with science and technology."

Air Commodore Beet continued:

“Supporting this Roadshow will be our RAF recruiting teams - they will be pleased to offer career advice and support to those who are potentially  interested in a career with the RAF.The RAF offers a unique working environment with challenging and rewarding career opportunities. We have a strong Diversity ethos and our work on Race and Gender Inclusivity has seen us achieve Gold Award status.Despite this success, we remain especially keen to attract more applications from girls and ethnic minorities. The Roadshows offer a superb opportunity to widen our profile in this respect.I am delighted to support this Launch event and the overall worthwhile project."