Jenn McEwan, lead science teacher at Doonfoot Primary School in South Ayrshire, has been involved with the Leaders Award since its launch in 2012 and has participated in the annual competition on many occasions. Not only have Jenn’s classes taken part, but they had 6 winners between 2012 and 2018.
Jenn is also involved in her local authority as a STEM lead and has links and input into all 41 schools within that area.
“Through winning the competition they had a boost in confidence, would stand that little bit taller and the Leaders Award was their first academic attainment success”
“The moment anyone knows they can achieve something, there’s no stopping them”
Jenn McEwan, Primary School Teacher and STEM Lead at Doonfoot Primary School
WHY DID YOU GET INVOLVED?
“The Leaders Award met a few areas we were targeting. We wanted to increase the science and STEM capital of our learners and because of my involvement in STEM I’m aware engineers tend to come from engineering families and unless you know someone who works in the job you probably don’t know the roles that exist or what they do”
“We were keen to normalise and familiarise our learners with the roles engineers play and the variety within that. That was the beauty (of the Leaders Award) for us. Particularly for staff, a lot of the staff didn’t realise the myriad of areas in engineering and specialisms within the industry and so it actually turned out to be immersive CLPL for our staff, professional development through experiences with different engineers year on year”
“Having the opportunity to reinforce what we are saying to children, but it is coming from someone else, someone who works in the field as well – it’s important that you are a good communicator, good listening skills and we could add value to pupil’s learning by linking the engineer to the topic they are studying”
WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR EXPERIENCE WITH THE LEADERS AWARD COMPETITION?
“We weren’t doing the leaders award for the sake of it, we weren’t doing it for the competition – We did it because it enriches our learners’ experiences, the competition part was a bonus and gave us a structure to follow and gave us a clear purpose for involving engineers in the classroom”
“The leaders award helped pupils to talk about engineering with a level of understanding, they are able to talk about it in a way that know what they were talking about and can give examples of engineering jobs and where you would expect to see this in the real world”
“I felt that if I were to say to a child ‘would you like to be an engineer when you’re older’ whether they said yes or no, they would be able to explain why, before the competition they probably wouldn’t have been able to tell us why”
“The leaders award is a doorway into other aspects too, because of the success of the competition other schools would ask me about what they could do, and I would recommend the competition. Involving engineers then opened doors to other engineers interacting with learners and their whole world just gets a little wider, a little bit bigger which is fantastic and raises the capital of STEM with our learners and their families too because they would talk about this at home”
HOW IMPORTANT WHERE THE AWARDS & PUBLIC EXHIBITIONS TO YOUR PUPILS?
“The exhibitions and awards have a status we cannot replicate in schools. We can put work on walls but to have that accolade – to have outside people, people they have never met judge their entries and deem them the winners and their entries worth putting up on public display is so thrilling for the pupils”.
“Going to the events makes their achievement so much more formal and exciting, schools can be criticised for giving awards for everything, having an outside agency celebrate a child is so beneficial and gives families opportunities to support and celebrate their child”