E.ON UK Press Releases

07 September 2015 09:00
Stepping up to STEM: Inspiring the bright sparks of tomorrow

·       Science, Technology and Maths are among pupils’ favourite school subjects, but girls remain less switched on to STEM subjects than boys

·       One in six pupils don’t know which subjects to take at GCSE, A Level or university to enhance their future career prospects

·       Two thirds of parents describe their understanding of STEM subjects as ‘average’ or ‘poor’

·       E.ON teams up with technology journalist and TV presenter Maggie Philbin to provide hands-on STEM activities and boost interest among children


New research from E.ON(1) shows that, contrary to common perceptions, STEM subjects (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) are among pupils’ favourites at school, but there’s a clear gap between subjects pupils enjoy themselves, and the ones that they think are most popular among their classmates:


Pupils’ favourite subjects

1.        Maths (40%)

2.        English (35%)

3.        ICT/Computing (32%)

4.        Science (32%)

5.        Art & Design (23%)


Subjects pupils think are popular with classmates

1.        PE (20%)

2.        ICT/Computing (19%)

3.        Drama (10%)

4.        Science (7%)

5.        Music (7%)


The research, which polled 2,000 children aged between 8 and 15, finds that whilst Maths is the most popular overall, it’s still a more popular subject for boys than girls (46% compared to 34%). It’s a similar story for ICT/Computing which is almost twice as popular with boys as it is girls (40% compared to 24%). English was girls’ favourite subject (42% compared to 28% of boys), indicating a gender imbalance when it comes to more technical subjects.


E.ON has teamed up with technology journalist and TV presenter, Maggie Philbin, to help make STEM subjects more engaging for young people and to improve their employability for the future. 


Maggie Philbin says: “It’s fantastic that pupils are enjoying Maths and Science, but it seems there could be an element of stigma associated with STEM subjects as many pupils seem to think more physical lessons, like PE and Drama, come top of the list their school friends most enjoy. It’s also worrying that girls don’t rate STEM subjects as highly as boys do, and that’s why we need to ensure that schools, parents and businesses all work together to inspire pupils to become the engineers, scientists and innovators of the future”.


A steer on careers

Further research by E.ON amongst children aged between 16 and 18 shows the importance of keeping STEM subjects enjoyable for both boys and girls in order to encourage them to choose these options at GCSE, A Level and university stage.


That’s because according to the research, pupils in this age group are most likely to progress their studies in subjects that they either enjoy (71%) or are best at (57%), rather than choosing subjects they think will support their future career paths (29%).


This indicates a lack of clarity among young people when it comes to planning for their future careers:

·       one in six (15%) pupils say that they don’t know which subjects they need to choose at GCSE or A Level to support their future career path, with girls being more likely than boys to be unsure (17% of girls compared with 12% of boys);

·       pupils voted STEM related careers, including vet (10%), doctor/nurse (6%), scientist (6%), teacher or academic (6%) among their dream jobs, but a failure to choose these subjects at GCSE or A Level  could limit their career options further down the line;

·       one in ten (10%) say that they don’t think they need to consider future career choices yet;

·       a similar proportion (11%) say they haven’t yet received careers advice or support to help them plan their next steps.


“Planning a career can be a daunting prospect for anyone,” continues Maggie Philbin. “That’s why it’s crucial we offer pupils advice early on, so they can make the right choices now to pave the way for later. E.ON’s research shows that pupils, especially girls, may not be considering STEM subjects at GCSE or A Level without realising that this could limit their career opportunities further down the line.”


The stats from E.ON come after a recent survey by the CBI(2) revealed that around two in five employers (43%) have difficulty recruiting staff with expertise in STEM subjects, with over half (52%) expecting this to become an issue in the next three years.


A helping hand with homework

A separate new survey by E.ON of 1,000 parents to children aged 8-15 reveals that:

·       almost half (48%) of parents say their children ask for help with homework at least once a week, especially when it comes to Maths (53%) and Science (20%);

·       three in four (71%) parents say they’ve felt out of their depth when helping their children with homework;

·       almost two thirds of parents describe their understanding of Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths as ‘average’ or ‘poor’ (63%), with just 7% saying they feel confident helping their children with all subjects, and around a quarter worrying they’re giving their children the wrong advice (22%).


Fiona Stark, Director of Corporate Affairs at E.ON, said: “Our research shows that a good proportion of pupils are really engaged with Science, Maths and Technology which is hugely encouraging. However, the data also tells us that there’s more we can do to help bring STEM subjects to life for pupils and get them really excited about the doors this can open for their future careers.


“Our ‘E.ON Energy Experience’ educational programme offers online learning which anyone can access, as well as drama sessions and hands-on workshops to really help bring STEM subjects to life for pupils for all ages. Through programmes like this, we believe that businesses can really help pupils develop the STEM skills they need to flourish in the classroom now and later on in their working lives too.”  


To find out more about E.ON’s Energy Experience visit eonenergy.com/about-eon/community



Notes to editors

1.    Stats based on the following research which was conducted for E.ON by OnePoll among three audience groups:

·       2,000 pupils aged 8-15 (23rd–29th July 2015);

·       500 pupils aged 16-18 (23rd – 28th July 2015);

·       1,000 parents of children aged 8-15 (between 23rd – 28th July 2015);

2.    Source: cbi.org.uk/business-issues/education-and-skills/in-focus/education-and-skills-survey/


About E.ON’s Energy Experience

The Energy Experience aims to:

·       Enhance pupils’ learning in STEM subjects by creating workshops that cultivate a passion for these areas. Since October 2014 1,700 pupils have taken part in a variety of STEM related activities.  

·       Help teachers and parents to teach young people about energy through online resources for 5-16 year olds, teaching handbooks, volunteering and live events.

·       Help prepare young people for the world of work through the E.ON Youth Pathway - a hub to develop employability skills such as personal brand, confidence building, team work, communication and working with others. E.ON plans to deliver Youth Pathway training to almost 100 young people aged 14-18 in 2015.


For more information contact:

Naomi Troy: 02476 180523 / naomi.troy@eon-uk.com

Jag Bickham: 02476 181 308 / jag.bickham@eon-uk.com


The information (including any forecasts or projections) contained in this press release (the "Information") reflects the views and opinions of E.ON on the date of this press release.  The Information is intended as a guide only and nothing contained within this press release is to be taken, or relied upon, as advice.  E.ON makes no warranties, representations or undertakings about any of the Information (including, without limitation, any as to its quality, accuracy, completeness or fitness for any particular purpose) and E.ON accepts no liability whatsoever for any action or omission taken by you in relation to the Information. Any reliance you place on the Information is solely at your own risk.  This press release is the property of E.ON and you may not copy, modify, publish, repost or distribute it. © E.ON 2015



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