The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, and British Science Association have today announced that their joint initiative to nurture the next generation of scientists and engineers has helped more than 10,000 young Londoners.

The Mayor's London Scientist programme, which launched in 2018 with support from the Greater London Authority, has funded primary and secondary schools with pupils who are underrepresented in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) enabling them to complete CREST Awards for free.

The 10,000 Awards milestone was reached during British Science Week which runs between 5 and 14 March.

The scheme has been targeted at state schools in London where more than 30 per cent of pupils receive free school meals, or where 75 per cent of pupils are from ethnic minority backgrounds.  

Schools for children with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND), Pupil Referral Units and Alternative Provision settings in London have also been eligible for the funding to deliver student-led STEM projects. 

Aletha Saunders, Science Leader at Redbridge Primary School, said:Through this programme, our Year 3 children were able to engage with science in a creative and purposeful way while learning at home. Using the CREST home learning resources, they carried out investigations using easily accessible materials and shared their learning with brothers, sisters and parents. They also used IT to record their work. We did lots of virtual visits and the children all loved the messy practical work!”

Many of these specialist educational settings kept their doors open throughout the pandemic, enabling vulnerable young Londoners to improve not only their practical science skills, but their teamwork and problem-solving abilities too.

The closure of schools to most pupils during the pandemic hindered children’s opportunities to practice STEM skills, which is why the programme helped pupils, particularly those from disadvantaged backgrounds, learn science remotely and helped to prepare them for face-to-face STEM learning again as schools reopen to all pupils.

The Mayor’s STEM webinar series also worked to keep the initiative going remotely during the pandemic, with more than 1,000 teachers, pupils and parents taking part last year.

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said: “Some of the most fascinating jobs in the world are in science, technology, engineering or maths and I want to see pupils from all backgrounds considering a career in this area. I am humbled by the inspirational efforts of all the teachers and pupils involved in my London Scientist programme, which will open doors for pupils who have traditionally felt that the sciences are ‘not for them’ or have been unable to access the resources and support they need to consider a career in this area. 

“We must continue to make sure all young people have the information, opportunities and support they need to pursue STEM education, training and jobs, and eliminate stereotypes based on gender, class, ethnicity, and disability.” 

This announcement comes off the back of research carried out by the BSA last year, which showed that a third of young people are now more likely to consider a scientific career as a result of the life-saving vaccine breakthrough during the pandemic, than they were before.

Katherine Mathieson, Chief Executive of the British Science Association, said: “I can think of no better way to mark British Science Week this year, than to celebrate the fantastic achievement of 10,000 CREST Awards as part of the Mayor’s London Scientist scheme.  
“Since we began this partnership with the Greater London Authority in 2018, thousands of young people have had the opportunity to experience practical science where they have been put in the driving seat – leading their own projects and investigations, and ultimately experiencing what it is like to think and act like a scientist. It is especially encouraging to hear about the projects that have continued throughout the past year, even during lockdown. The ingenuity and perseverance that both the teachers and students involved in these projects have shown must be congratulated.”