Is your school succeeding in Stem? A new ranking compares national achievement levels - Your Life-produced article

Why schools need an 'urgent rethink' on Stem A new analysis ranks schools by Stem achievement – with some surprising results

reach for the stars

A new Stem school finder has been launched, ranking institutions according to their performance in science, technology, engineering and maths (Stem) subjects.

The search tool has been developed by Your Life – the Department for Education backed campaign to boost take-up in maths and physics A-levels – using an analysis of performance data in Stem and other subjects from England’s 2,500 secondary schools.

Researchers found that schools which achieve top A-level grades (A* to B) in other subjects are more likely to do so in Stem, but the percentage of A-level entries in Stem varies greatly per school, which impacts on the overall Stem ranking.

For example, some schools within the top 500 for A-level performance in all subjects drop by more than 1,000 places when looking at the Stem ranking – The Harrodian School in London falls from 166 to 1,525; Eton drops from 9 to 110; and Harrow also misses the Stem top 100.

School ranking for Stem achievement

Schools rated outstanding by Ofsted were found to have the highest levels of Stem A-level entries, but those rated inadequate have, on average, a higher Stem entry rate than those classed as good or requiring improvement.

University technical colleges (UTCs), sponsored academies and free schools rank more highly when considering Stem against other subjects, while many independent schools and converter academies perform less well.  

The Science Council predicts that by 2030, some 7.1 million UK jobs will rely on science skills – a 1.3m increase on today’s number. Your Life’s ranking also explores the requirements of the UK job market and the A-levels that are most in demand for 430 key jobs (based on insight from global management consultancy firm A.T. Kearney).

Edwina Dunn, chair of Your Life, commented: “You get what you measure and, simply put, schools are incentivised to reward grades rather than subjects, even though this is not what businesses need and not where the jobs will be in the future.

“The challenge of Brexit is upon us and the clock is ticking if we want to have the workforce we need to compete in the world. School performance measurements should more closely reflect the skill requirements of the UK economy and reward subject expertise in the most-demand skills areas. I am calling for an urgent rethink of how schools are assessed to give greater weight to the subjects that open up the most career prospects.”

The postcode finder enabling parents to track the Stem performance of schools is available on the Future Finder website. Your Life has listed the top schools according to Stem ranking on the Your Life website

Stem achievement