YSLs in the secondary setting
Tutor assessors from different secondary schools were interviewed in April and June 2020. The experiences of the two participants differed, providing contrasting perspectives on the experience of YSLP. One school had an established STEM activity programme, whereas the other was in an earlier stage of STEM development work.
Developing leadership skills was highlighted by both schools as a key element of the project, suggesting that young people leading the activities was a real selling point of the programme. Both schools also felt that the awareness of STEM careers was being raised by the programme in association with other events or activities. Challenging stereotypes was felt to be a desirable element of the project for both schools, and there was the suggestion that perhaps these stereotypes were not so deeply embedded as they once were. The opportunity for the young people to gain an SCQF Level 6 Award was a significant factor. This reflects the high stakes nature of secondary education, and the value of the project to other teachers and leadership staff was also bound within the qualification potential; ‘an award which gave it the kudos that it was probably needing for the perceptions to see that it is a valuable thing to do’.
Reflection is facilitated using logbooks within the pilot. Although the benefit of gaining a qualification was clear to young people, completion of the logbooks created a challenge, one of the schools found mechanisms to facilitate this, however, it proved an unsurmountable challenge for the school in the earlier stage of STEM development work.