STEM Subjects: Education

Department for Education written question – answered at on 8 March 2023.

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Photo of David Morris David Morris Conservative, Morecambe and Lunesdale

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps she is taking to increase the number of students taking STEM subjects.

Photo of Robert Halfon Robert Halfon Minister of State (Education)

The government is investing £3.8 billion more in further education (FE) and skills over this Parliament to ensure people can access high-quality training and education that addresses skills gaps and boosts productivity. We are working with industry to shape our training offers, creating more routes into skilled employment in key science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) sectors, such as engineering, digital, clean energy, and manufacturing.

The department is investing in Institutes of Technology, which are leaders in the provision of high-quality, higher level technical education and training across a range of STEM occupations and industries.

We have worked with employers to develop over 350 apprenticeship standards in STEM. These same employer-led standards have shaped the design of T Levels, new Level 3 qualifications for 16-19 year olds that reflect modern industrial practice and include a 45 day industry placement. Fourteen of the 24 T Levels being rolled out are in STEM subjects, from Science to Digital Business Services, Engineering Design and Development to Onsite Construction.

We are delivering supply and demand side reforms to reverse the decline in uptake of high-quality higher technical education. We’ve announced approximately £70 million to date in funding to prime FE and higher education higher technical provision across the country. Central to our reforms is the introduction of Higher Technical Qualifications (HTQs). These are current (and new) level 4-5 qualifications, approved and quality marked by the Institute for Apprenticeships & Technical Education (IfATE) as providing the skills demanded in the workplace by employers. HTQ rollout is on track. They began teaching from September 2022, starting with Digital HTQs, and all occupational routes are due to be rolled out by 2025, where relevant occupational standards are available. To date, 106 qualifications have been approved as HTQs across Digital, Construction, and Health & Science routes, for teaching this year or next. Over 70 providers were able to deliver HTQs from September 2022, with the majority being FE colleges. We have introduced an HTQ brand and are improving communication, advice, and guidance. From 2023/24, HTQ student finance will be on a par with degrees.

The department is investing to widen participation in STEM education in schools and increase the number and quality of STEM teachers. Since autumn 2022, early career teachers have been able to claim a levelling up premium (£3,000 tax free per year for up to three years) for teaching mathematics, physics, chemistry or computing in state-funded secondary schools that have been identified as having a high need for teachers. The department is funding tailored maths support for students and teachers through the Advanced Mathematics Support Programme, investing £84 million into National Centre for Computing education to drive increased participation in computer science and funding research programmes on how to tackle gender balance in STEM subjects.

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