Barking & Dagenham College backs campaign to boost STEM subjects

Education Minister Liz Truss MP with Barking and Dagenham College staff.

Education Minister Liz Truss MP with Barking and Dagenham College staff. - Credit: Archant

A campaign launched by Chancellor George Osborne to boost participation in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) subjects and careers has got the backing of Barking & Dagenham College.

The ‘Your Life’ initiative brings together 170 business, educators, industry representatives and government organisations who have all pledged to drive changes, showing how the subjects can lead to exciting careers.

The college’s commitment includes a range of initiatives including launching a programme of STEM taster events for east London schools, all designed to increase take-up in technology and engineering courses by 20 per cent within the next three years.

Cathy Walsh, principal and chief executive at the college - home to London’s only regional Gazelle STEM Centre - said: “21st century careers will increasingly depend on technology and science skills, and as educators we must create opportunities for young people, especially young women, to recognise that a STEM career could be a real and rewarding option for them.”

The campaign also aims to encourage more young women into STEM subjects.

Education Minister Elizabeth Truss added: “Too many teenagers, especially girls, don’t realise that maths and physics get you everywhere.

“They have the highest earnings and can open doors to careers in business, journalism, technology, engineering - in fact anything you can probably think of.”

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The 12 students from Barking & Dagenham College were given an insight to life behind Barking and Dagenham’s well-loved paper as part of our ongoing Create Your Future partnership.

After a tour of the newspaper’s Ilford offices, the group explored the tools at their disposal in the world of 21st century media before matching up their skills and interests with the various roles needed to produce a successful news title.

“I really enjoyed it and felt like I learnt,” said fashion design student Emillie Rix.

“I’m much more excited about the project now.

“At first I was a bit worried that I wouldn’t understand everything, but I feel really inspired now.

“It was also great to get a first taste of the office because it just made everything feel real and professional.”

The next day the students went into more detail, getting to grips with the software and exploring what makes an interesting story and an eye-catching front page.

The creative juices were soon flowing and the group also began planning their own stories before pitching their ideas to the rest of the team in a news meeting.

Although the sessions provided the students with a lot to get their heads around, they relished the challenge and are looking forward to producing their own edition of the paper.

The students will return to Post HQ this week, with the takeover now less than a month away.

The Post’s news editor Ramzy Alwakeel, who led the sessions, is confident the group will rise to the challenge.

“It was good to meet the group after reading so much about them,” he said.

“They’re definitely a talented and enthusiastic bunch with some exciting ideas about how to make the Post their own, so it’ll be great to see them in action.

“Hopefully we won’t all be out of a job afterwards.”

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