These days, it is rare for a minister at the Department for Education to make a speech that does not refer to the importance of science, technology, engineering and maths (Stem).
Whether it be the skills the UK needs to thrive after Brexit, the need to improve social mobility or preparing today’s children for tomorrow’s workplace, engineering is never far from ministerial lips. St Faith’s in Cambridge is a school that has recognised the importance of engineering by introducing it as a core curriculum subject, taught to pupils from the age of 7.
In the words of one judge, it is “a Stem dream”, and it is producing “our engineers of the future”. The school is working with bodies including the University of Cambridge and the Institution of Civil Engineers, and its curriculum has three key tenets: problem-solving, applying science and maths to produce solutions, and teamwork.
In practice, this ranges from Year 3 pupils creating an electric circuit by making electric dough, to Year 5 designing and building efficient turbine blades, and Year 8 creating objects that move on land and water and in the air.
The school’s long-term commitment to this approach is shown by the start of a £2 million “Steam hub” building project to link its engineering, science, computing and art and design departments.
In a recent survey of Year 8 pupils, engineering emerged as the most popular area they wanted careers advice on.
The judges said: “An admirable, innovative and challenging project, using local expertise and encouragement, with superb results. To introduce engineering as a curriculum subject from age seven is a bold and inspirational step. We were deeply impressed.”