Widening Participation

Work with the I’m a Scientist project to reach disadvantaged schools

Fair access has been at the heart of what we do at I’m a Scientist. From the outset we’ve strived to get scientists talking with students from all across the country and not just those conveniently located near universities. We always ensured that schools from the more deprived parts of the country are not disadvantaged during our event. We made sure that lower ability students can take part as fully as gifted and talented. It works for all students in the class, quiet or confident, with over 85% of logged in students actively engaging with the activity.

What do we mean by Widening Participation?

Widening Participation is based around increasing the participation of under-represented groups. For us at I’m a Scientist we want to increase the participation of under-represented groups going into STEM careers, and to support that, increase participation in studying STEM at a high level (post-16 choices and Higher Education).

Which under-represented groups are we trying to work with?

To come up with our definition of widening participation schools we’ve looked at which groups of students are under-represented in STEM, Higher Education, and I’m a Scientist and our criteria is:

In England and Wales

A school in an area where POLAR3 is in the first quintile, or…
A school where the % of students eligible for free school meals is higher than 41%, or…
A school where the % of students achieving 5 grades A*–C at KS4 is below 45%, or…
A school where the % of students level 4 in reading, writing, and maths at KS2 is below 45%, or…
A school more than 25 miles from a major research HEI (Rural school).

In Scotland
A school in a remote rural area, or a remote small town

Where an independent school matches the criteria it will not be counted as a widening participation school.

What do we use these criteria for?

I’m a Scientist is a popular event. Recently we’ve had twice as many classes wanting to take part as we can accommodate, which means we have to make choices about who can take part.

I’m a Scientist and I’m an Engineer UK are run by Mangorolla Community Interest Company and are delivered free to UK state schools and colleges. It is only possible to run these events thanks to the funding provided from a number of organisations.

When deciding who to allocate places we first consider the priorities of the funders. For example, are they a Stimulating Physics Network school, a priority school for a funding NCOP consortia or the target age group for the British Psychological Society funded zones?

Once these places have been allocated we prioritise classes using our widening participation criteria.

We also deliver specific projects, with specific aims

Osmium zone: The Institute of Physics wanted to demonstrate the transferable skills gained from studying physics. They also undertook some research into gender differences in online engagement.

I’m a Medic: Showcasing careers in Primary Healthcare to students from Lincolnshire, Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire.

Work with the I’m a Scientist project to reach disadvantaged schools

If you want to provide a STEM outreach activity to disadvantaged schools or schools that are geographically distant from you, take a look at our NCOP and HE Outreach information or get in touch with naomi@mangorol.la to find out more.