Tag Archives: Big Bang

Preparing for a modern economy

Preparing for a modern economy with Knowledge-Based Industries and a well qualified and highly specialised workforce at its heart, requires us to grow our own talent pool as well as attracting in-bound talent.

Around 50,000 people commute within the Greater Exeter Travel to Work Area every week day. People that live in East Devon may work in Exeter or Teignbridge and people that work in Mid Devon perhaps live in East Devon (see the diagram below). Children and young people travel considerable distances to learn too. The catchment area of some schools and colleges extends right across local council and sometimes county boundaries. Our ‘raw material’ for this talent pool needs to be nurtured from a young age regardless of the student’s or the school’s location, as inevitably we will all be working together, in an effort to make this region a great place to live and work.

Net flow for commuters through EHOD

Looking at the performance of schools and students is a sometimes a  little like comparing ‘apples and pears’; up until 16 years ‘student residency’ is all important and at 18 years’ school location’ becomes the basis of the ranking.  On the whole:

  • Primary school children, in most parts of the region,  perform better than the national average.
  • Secondary school students performance at GCSE level (around 16 years) is more varied with GCSE results revealing a range of nearly 10% between the top performing and least well performing schools per council area.
  • Young people, are increasingly more mobile around about the age of 18, and tend to do well academically.

BUT then disappointingly the proportion progressing to Higher Education (HE) is notably lower than would be expected. Nationally, a decline of 4% in university applications has been recently reported. Closer examination reveals that this reduction is mainly in ‘mature’ students and in Nursing/Medicine/ Health related degrees where student tuition fees are no longer exempted. However, our small (124 students), local (South West), recent (June 2017) research exercise at a Big Bang SW indicates that 13% fewer school students intend to apply to university than the students surveyed in 2016 (see graph below). This is concerning as the proportion of young people progressing to Higher Education in EHOD is already notably lower than the national average.

Destinations comparison 2016 2017 graph

Student debt (Tuition fee loans of up to £9250/annum plus maintenance loans are charged at 6.1% interest from this autumn) has been hitting the headlines and combined with economic uncertainty may have influenced a growing reticence amongst potential students to invest in themselves through HE. Surprisingly, and disappointingly, it appears that this reduction in HE applications may not result in a corresponding increase in students intending to undertake an apprenticeship, despite prominent Government campaigns and opportunities locally. Perhaps the messaging about university fees has been stronger than that of pro-Apprenticeships?

Accepting the research exercise was small and two years is not a trend, it is nevertheless interesting. Perhaps we are left with more questions than answers? At the very least this research indicates that more young people are certain about what they want to do. It may be that more young people want to be entrepreneurs, more want to get  jobs (which does not and should not rule out learning), and that we all need to examine why local young people are less likely to apply to University and what can be done to increase the uptake of apprenticeships at every level. Working together is more likely to be the most successful approach. Whatever the route young people take, we want them to achieve their potential, to continue to learn and to contribute to a more modern economy and a happy community.


Talent Abounds at Big Bang SW

Team Juno with The Lord Mayor of Exeter
Team Juvo win ‘Best CREST Award’ presented by The Lord Mayor of Exeter

Talent abounds at Big Bang SW which is the South West’s schools largest celebration of Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM). Held at the University of Exeter on June 21st and organised by Education Business Partnership SW its impossible not to be caught up in an upward spiral of inspiration and STEM possibilities.

Almost 2000 students from across Cornwall, Devon, Somerset and Swindon and over 60 local, national and international organisations and sponsors, including Beckton Dickinson, Babcock International and Spirent arrived to showcase their work and inspire one another. An amazing ‘Mega Class’ in the form of an interactive science session for 500 students, led by the National Space Academy, took place in the Great Hall.

The prestigious Big Bang UK Young Scientists & Engineers Competition was one of many awards to be decided at this event.  Camborne Science and International Academy (CSIA) were delighted that students attending Nexus, their Gifted STEM programme, won two awards.  The Best Crest Award which was sponsored by Exeter City Council and awarded by The Lord Mayor of Exeter, herself a Maths & Physics graduate was won by team ‘Juvo’ (Latin for help, assist, aid) . Their project resulted from their desire to solve a problem: “We are Year 7s and we have first-hand experience of being new arrivals in a huge secondary school and needing some help finding our way around…” (Gabriel Almeida, Max Anthony and James Belshaw). Team Juvo came up with the concept of how schools could use technology to communicate better with students, staff and visitors with interactive screens positioned around the site. They thought through how essential it is to engage with students, staff and visitors by tailoring profiles containing a range of Apps to suit the three user groups. The interactive screens offered site maps, newsletters and school information accessible to all; to individual timetables, co-curricular activity information, school bulletin, CEOP (Child Exploitation and Online Protection) reporting, Google drive and more, accessible to students; with other specific Apps aimed at teachers. “It’s like a digital friend who is always there to help you …” (Gabriel, Max and James).

As part of the Nexus Co-Curricular Programme, students will be learning how to develop Apps and look forward to Juvo developing their idea further. Mira Oates, Nexus Co-Curricular and Primary Coordinator was  understandably proud and excited by both the success of both teams. “Huge congratulations to all the students who took part and I am incredibly proud of them. I was quietly confident our students would win something because the quality of their ideas and their passion. The Juvo team have an excellent concept which I can genuinely see it successfully used in schools and other organisations”. (Mira Oates)

A full list of awards and the talented teams can be found here


Full STEAMM Ahead

Grand Challenges - University of Exeter - June 2016
Grand Challenges – Tackling 21st Century Interdisciplinary Dilemmas Together at the University of Exeter – June 2016

Recently we have been discussing the complex and volatile world in which we live and work, and the increasing need for more interdisciplinary teams.

Locally, Innovation Exeter is focused on cultivating a City-region which is a world-leader in environmental data analytics.  This is an interdisciplinary area and results will be achieved by exploiting the presence of the Met Office, the University of Exeter, the Science Park, the Maths School and other critical assets. STEM∗ STEMM° STEAMM℘ are top topics. Naomi Climer, the president of the Institute of Engineers, values the mix of creative and technical skills in individuals. However, the skills and personal qualities which underpin and enable interdisciplinary working in these highly technical areas are vital across all sectors and at all levels. If we are to tackle the productivity challenge and be more fulfilled individuals we need to unleash confidence, communicate effectively, collaborate meaningfully and re-discover curiosity.

Our meeting of Employers, Training Providers, Facilitators and Funders on Friday 25 November explored the theme Full STEAMM Ahead! Interdisciplinary STEAMM teams with strong collaborative abilities are the way ahead. We enjoyed presentations from and discussions with:

Kerry Burnham Exeter Maths School Creative and interdisciplinary project work with the University, Exeter College and employers – the benefits of being stuck!
Louise Cole & Kevin Feaviour Imagine If – Assets for Success Soft skills in schools, colleges, universities communities and the modern workplace


Rosie Bates Education Business Partnership STEAMM & the EBP – STEM Ambassadors, Big Bang etc


Anka Djordjevic Grand Challenges – University of Exeter Grand Challenges interdisciplinary enquiry –led learning with leading academics and external specialists


Jo McCreedie Careers & Employability – University of Exeter Internships & employability experiences

(Presentation to be added when technical glitches solved!)

Our main discussion points identified our need to:

  • Transcend silo mentality and cross boundaries
  • Ensure students experience breadth and develop interdisciplinary skills as study subject areas become more specific
  • Think beyond the immediate demand for STEM and not to fixate on ‘the now’
  • Focus on ‘Character, values and virtues’

We will need an interdisciplinary, creative, collaborative, innovative group to make this happen.

This was an interesting and informative start to what should be a Grand Challenge for Exeter and beyond.

Thanks to the Met Office who generously hosted this meeting.

∗STEM – Science Technology Engineering Maths
° STEMM – Science Technology Engineering Maths Medicine
℘ STEAMM – Science Technology Engineering Arts Maths Medicine

Be involved with Big Bang!

Come along and find out about the Big Bang South West 2016 Event. How you can take part and what it could do for you…
Judges at The Big Bang Fair, Photo by Pinnacle
Judges at The Big Bang Fair, Photo by Pinnacle

You are invited to celebrate the launch of The Big Bang South West, the region’s largest celebration of youth Science and Engineering. During 2015/16 The Big Bang will reach over 12,000 young people in the South West. The year’s activity culminates in the headline event hosted by the University of Exeter where we are joined by 2,000 young people who are talented, creative and bursting with enthusiasm for a career in Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths.

The event fuels the future talent pool in the region and is the perfect place for students to discover career opportunities on their doorstep. It gives employers a chance to highlight their offer and stop the migration of talent out of the South West.

The success of The Big Bang South West is built on a fantastic partnership of education and employers. There are numerous opportunities throughout the year to be a part of it. You could be a competition judge, a project mentor, an exhibitor at the Fair or, an event sponsor helping to make this Big Bang the best regional event in the country.

The Big Bang South West 2016 Launch is:

  • on Wednesday 11 November
  • at Exeter Science Park, Babbage Way Clyst Honiton EX5 2FN GB
  • between 17:00 and 18:00 hours.

To view the Big Bang 2015 videos and gallery click here.

Refreshments will be available.

For further information contact: bigbang@ebp-sw.org

Book now – http://bigbangsouthwest2016launch.eventbrite.co.uk

“Everyone was a winner today!”

During the Big Bang South West event at Exeter University on the 25th June 2015 - Photo mandatory by-line: Gary Day/Pinnacle - Tel: +44(0)1363 881025 - VAT Reg: 183700120 - Mobile:0797 1270 681 - 25/06/15 - Exeter University, Exeter
Future Scientists at Big Bang SW 2015 (c) Pinnacle

Alex Ledbrooke from Education Business Partnership South West and member of the Exeter and Heart of Devon Employment and Skills Board writes –

This year’s Big Bang South West Fair at the University of Exeter celebrated the very best in Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths.

The event attracted nearly 2,000 eager students from across the region to participate in one of the largest events of its kind regionally.

The emphasis was on interaction and the chance to explore the wide range of careers and opportunities in the field of science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM).

More than 50 industry experts volunteered to judge nearly 100 student projects with the very best projects being selected to represent the South West at the prestigious finals of the National Science and Engineering Competition to be held at the Big Bang UK in March 2016

A huge interactive exhibition hall with more than 80 local, national and international organisations, including Western Power Distribution, the Met Office, South West Water, TDK, and AnTech Ltd were on hand to share their expertise and inspire those attending.

In addition, nearly 1000 young people took part in a ‘Mega Class’. Led by the National Space Academy and sponsored by Western Power Distribution.

The Big Bang Fair South West highlights to us all that STEM offers an exciting wealth of opportunities, not just internationally but also here in the South West too.

Nationally and locally businesses are facing skills gaps. Today was about recognising and celebrating the talents that exist in the South West and helping students to recognise the opportunities available to them. I’d like to thank everyone who attended, the companies that played such a vital part in making in an important aspect of regions annual calendar, and to all the winners and the teams that competed – everyone was a winner today.

The 10 project winners from the region going through to the finals of the National Science and Engineering Competition in March 2016 can been seen here

See this years photographs and project video here

Big Bang Fair South West

Group science experiment
Big Bang South West © Dan Mullan/Pinnacle

Alex Ledbrooke from Education Business Partnership South West and member of the Exeter and Heart of Devon employment and Skills Board writes –

There is a little over a month to go before The Big Bang Fair South West takes centre stage in Exeter.  This annual event is now a major feature of the Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) calendar for schools who come along to celebrate the very best in youth STEM in the region.

The event includes a variety of offers for students that attend including the exciting British Science Association backed, National Science and Engineering Competition.  Students from the area have an excellent track record in the competition with winners at the South West event attending the National finals where they been placed as high as runner-up against thousands of other students.  The projects students present range from the weird and wonderful to the truly mind boggling.  Our judges on the day always come away feeling inspired by the students and reassured we have a lot of talent in the area.

Petroc students hands-on at Big Bang
Petroc students hands-on at Big Bang

But how to keep hold of that talent?  Another feature of The Big Bang Fair South West is the “Career Zone”.  STEM employers attend with fantastic interactive displays helping students understand what their business is about, what sort of career it can offer and what skills the employer is looking for if a student wants to pursue it further.  For many companies this is a brilliant way of raising their profile amongst the next generation.  If you’re not on the high-street it can be hard to get noticed but here every one can been seen and the opportunities become tangible.  From here we are able to identify opportunities in the South West and hopefully keep hold of the talent that might otherwise be lost as students feel the need to migrate.

If all that wasn’t enough students will also attend huge live STEM shows which this year are being delivered by the National Space centre and BAE Systems.  Both shows offer students a unique experience of learning with some of the county’s leading experts in a room full of people that simply love STEM subjects.

The whole event is delivered by Education Business Partnership South West (part of the CSW Group) and hosted by the University of Exeter.  Two thousand of the region’s brightest young talent will be under one roof, can you afford not to support an event like this?

For more information please contact emma.walter@ebp-sw.org  or call 01392 215501.