Beaconsfield High School

Beaconsfield High School

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BHS welcomes University of Reading for STEM University Challenge

Remarkable local girls’ grammar school Beaconsfield High School continues to nurture student interest and engagement in the fields of Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM), with a series of fun and interactive sessions, including the University of Reading’s ‘University Challenge’ Day.

Students from Years 9 and 10 this week (Tuesday 21st November) took part in the competition that saw them testing their knowledge against their rivals, just like in the TV version.

The day was led by student ambassadors from the University of Reading, who split the students nominated to represent their form groups into 12 groups of three. On opposite sides of the floor, with buzzers in hand, the students took on the infamous quick-fire questions, bonus questions and time limits until the final at the end of the school day, when Year 9 and Year 10 groups from Bhutto House competed, with 10BHU named the winners.

STEM subjects have enjoyed much more focus in recent years, as low engagement numbers from students have caused concerns for the future of industries like energy, health and computing that make our modern daily lives possible. It’s also a fact that the number of women in STEM careers is proportionally lower than many other areas, yet there are so many interesting, challenging and rewarding roles available. These combined factors are changing the face of education institutions, with Beaconsfield High School particularly taking note.

Rachel Smith, Headteacher comments: “Whilst we have a tradition of some students leaving us to study medicine, veterinary science and engineering at Oxbridge and other top institutions, there are so many exciting and fulfilling career opportunities available that our priority has to be opening our students’ eyes and minds to all the possibilities. By engaging them in fun and interesting STEM activities from the beginning of their journey with us in Year 7, we can ensure that these subjects are enjoyed and progressed just as much as other academic, creative and sporting subjects.”

Elsewhere in the school, students have been taking part in a competition to build edible structures using spaghetti, marshmallows and a willing subject to test the stability of the creations – namely, chocolate. Students in Year 7, 8 and 9 have so far taken on the challenge in their lunchbreaks, with the added pressure of a time limit encouraging the teams of three to work together to find a solution to this engineering challenge. Teamwork is just one of the skills students learn through their time with the school as part of its Getting Life Ready initiative. Getting Life Ready was developed by students, who researched what skills are need for a successful and happy future by interviewing employers, universities and successful alumnae, and it is evident across all learning.

These and other STEM activities are also preparing the students to enter the Bright Ideas Challenge by Shell, a competition asking secondary school students across the UK to imagine creative ideas for how cities of the future might be powered.