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Equality and Diversity bursary scheme helps bring engineering to children

Schools received equality and diversity bursaries to help bring engineering to more children.

In autumn 2020, EngineeringUK created a set of equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI) criteria to identify schools with larger proportions of students from groups underrepresented in engineering. An EDI bursary scheme was established for schools that meet the EDI criteria. Bursaries were intended to help schools overcome barriers to participation in EngineeringUK programmes, including the EEP Robotics ChallengeBig Bang at School and to engage with experiences on Neon that features quality assured engineering activities.

Chris Atkinson is a teacher at Thornleigh Salesian College in Bolton. He received a £700 bursary to inspire students about the world of robotics. Students took part in the EEP Robotics Challenge and, using the bursary, the school purchased some Lego SPIKE prime kits to start a robotics club for year 8 and 10 students.

Chris said: 

“The bursary has been so helpful in leading us on a path to do more with robotics and grow our expertise. It’s given us the opportunity to open the door to experiences we hadn’t thought about before and given us that foot in the door to start developing the curriculum. It’s definitely worth applying for a bursary, it can create opportunity with exciting topics that you might not be able to do because of a lack of funding.”

As the barriers to participation vary from school to school, EngineeringUK allows a high level of flexibility around how bursaries are spent. The most common use for the EDI bursary was for specialist equipment to support the activity, with the next most common being materials and resources (including general resources, such as printing). Many schools also spent bursary money on high quality engineering and engineering related digital content. A high proportion of schools who received a bursary for Neon provision intended to spend it on paying for the activity itself.

Emma Diserens, Head of Equality, Diversity and Inclusion at EngineeringUK, said:

“It is vital that we ensure engineering careers are for everyone, and it’s essential we do this by improving the equality, diversity and inclusion of outreach activities for young people.“

“EngineeringUK bursaries allows schools who work with young people from groups underrepresented in the engineering profession to experience the excitement and fulfilment a career in engineering could offer. Widening the opportunities available to young people and changing their perceptions of the profession needs to be a focus for the sector so it’s positive to see EngineeringUK bursaries are creating a noticeable impact.”

The engineering workforce in the UK lacks diversity, with many groups underrepresented in engineering and other STEM careers. EngineeringUK has an ambition to address this problem by inspiring and informing more young people from these underrepresented groups through participation in high quality STEM and engineering engagement programmes.

Image credit: EngineeringUK