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HOW TO GET GIRLS TO EMBRACE STEM SUBJECTS

In a world obsessed with examination results and a quest for perfection, there may be the temptation to pursue a limited curriculum. Not so at Bromley High School GDST… Headmistress Angela Drew writes about the importance of STEM subjects and how to pique a girl’s interest

My school is one of those increasingly rare institutions: a school that is single sex right through from four to 18 – no co-ed Sixth Form or Kindergarten tacked on at the beginning or end for us. Once, single sex education might have been perceived as the safe, traditional option, but for me it has come to represent a distinctive and even radical choice. To choose a girls’ education is to opt for an infrastructure that supports girls in selecting the riskier, harder and more aspirational path in life.

In the new system of GCSE grading, the current A*-E grades will be transformed into grades 9 to 1. An A grade will be pitched at grade 7, and only 20% of those achieving above grade 7 will achieve the magic grade 9. This means that there will be an extraordinarily narrow margin for a new kind of ‘failure’, where a grade 8 will represent the failure to achieve the right kind of A*.

How to get girls to embrace STEM subjects

Bromley High School girls have embraced STEM subjects

In a system that promotes perfectionism, the temptation may be to opt for a more limited curriculum – a narrower range of less demanding subjects. However, in my girls’ school, we are acutely conscious of the need for girls to embrace the study of STEM subjects – Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics. At A-level, twice as many boys as girls take maths and five times as many take physics, but if girls do continue to study STEM subjects to A-level they are more likely to achieve high grades.

In my school, we strive to promote STEM subjects in imaginative ways. Our would-be engineers are lured by the Design Technology Divas Club in Year 9; our Junior girls are skilled digital animators and computer coders; our Years 10 and 11 girls meet parents who are doctors, designers and engineers over coffee and cake in our regular STEM careers forum, the wonderfully named Café Scientifique. The key to promoting STEM subjects is to nurture the roots, the girls’ interest and enthusiasm for science and technology – only then will they have the confidence to branch out and to flourish.

Bromley High School GDST, Blackbrook Lane BR1 2TW; 020 8781 7000; bromleyhigh.gdst.net

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