Students have been trying out the role of a KitKat tester in a new programme which aims to give a taste of careers in science.
The chocolate-based excursion is just one of the imaginative days out organised under the “Best School Trip, Ever!” programme, aiming to help businesses partner with schools to offer pupils first-hand experience of Stem careers.
Today, education minister Sam Gyimah will be joining teenagers on another trip organised under the scheme – this time a boat journey down the Thames to find out about the Thames Tideway Tunnel, also known as the "Supersewer'.
The programme has been organised by Your Life, a campaign to persuade young people to consider careers in Stem.
The school trip experiences began in July and so far 21 companies have agreed to take part. The trips have included not just testing KitKats at Nestle in York, but also a chance to "step foot on Mars" at the Martian landscape simulation at Airbus HQ in Stevenage. Students have also viewed the satellite tracking centre at Inmarsat in London.
Your Life is a three-year campaign which is supported by government and sponsored by companies including BAE systems and Ford. The school trip programme is part of the campaign’s work to demonstrate the variety of careers available to those who choose science, technology, engineering or maths (Stem) subjects at A-level. Schools are invited to take part, through careers advisors MyKindaFuture.
Edwina Dunn, entrepreneur and chair of Your Life, said: “There is an urgent need to engage the next-generation Stem workforce and a great place to start is by opening the doors to some of Britain's most exciting workplaces.
“Your Life’s ‘Best School Trip, Ever!’ is designed to create trips that inspire, surprise and delight in equal measure, and to offer students and teachers a genuine insight into career possibilities that are open to them if they study maths and science subjects.”
Dr Anthony Mann, director of policy and research at the Education and Employers Taskforce, said: "School surveys routinely show very high demand for workplace visits from teachers and pupils. Visits are seen as a highly effective means of broadening aspirations, and improving understanding of the world of work and the occupational relevance of education. They take pupils out of their natural habitats and challenge them to think afresh about who they are and who they might become.”
The responsibility to secure independent careers advice for students became a statutory duty for all schools in 2012.
But in 2013 the Commons Education Committee found that there had been a drop in the overall level of provision. Ofsted has also said that the new duty is not working well enough.
In September 2015, the government launched its enterprise adviser network to help link schools up with volunteers from businesses and the public sector.