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April 14, 2023

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PRESS RELEASE: Funding for specialist STEM Ambassadors scheme aims to boost young people’s skills in quantum physics

Quantum Ambassadors – which aims to engage students aged 16-19 in quantum physics in the classroom – will be expanded after STEM Learning was awarded funding from the Department for Science, Innovation & Technology (DSIT) to support the implementation and delivery of the scheme to schools across the country.

This is part of a major new focus to boost quantum literacy skills in the UK and contribute to the creation of a world-leading quantum ‘taskforce’. The expansion was announced in the latest national quantum strategy which was published earlier this month.

Quantum Ambassadors launched in 2018 as a comprehensive enrichment scheme of quantum-related CPD and classroom-based activities for secondary schools. The aim was to promote the uptake of STEM subjects, highlight the benefits and applications of mature quantum technologies and signpost career pathways for quantum graduates.

The Government has contributed to an investment of over £1 billion in a national quantum technologies programme supporting the commercialisation of these emerging technologies, creating new markets and reaping wide societal benefits. This recent plan aims to increase this investment by a further £2.5 billion over the next decade.

Quantum Ambassadors was designed and delivered by STEM Learning, with funding provided by the EPSRC Quantum Communications Hub, which is led by the University of York. Secondary schools across the whole of the UK were encouraged to sign up to participate, free of charge, and were matched to local Ambassadors who then deliver quantum inspired activities in the classroom and discuss career options with young people.

The new investment will seek to recruit an even larger number of schools across the country by focusing on teacher CPD. This will instill science educators with the necessary confidence and knowledge to deliver quantum related activities.

The funding will also support the delivery of a large number of quantum kits to schools in disadvantaged areas which are currently lacking the resources to carry out engaging science demonstrations. The development and provision of a ‘quantum physics in a suitcase kit’ will allow teachers to help students visualise and understand quantum physics. STEM Learning’s extensive network will be used to provide kits to schools for free, ensuring that those most in need of further support and provision can access materials and resources.

Minister of State at the Department of Science, Innovation and Technology, George Freeman, said: “The Innovation Economy is creating hundreds of thousands of exciting new jobs and career opportunities around the whole country. Investing in the education and training of the next generation of students, scientists and innovators is key to our ability to be a global leader in the global race for Science & Technology investment. That’s why we made Skills and Talent a major pillar of our 10-year £2.5bn Quantum Strategy announced in the Budget: widening access to enable more students to join the quantum technology revolution and inspire a new wave of pioneering minds.”

Alex Brown, Enrichment Programme Manager at STEM Learning, said: “This funding from DSIT will allow us to take the Quantum Ambassador scheme to the next level. By developing bespoke teacher CPD and physical kits, and utilising the STEM Learning and Stimulating Physics Network of specialists, we’ll be able to reach many more schools, educators and students, demonstrating to them the value and excitement of quantum technologies. It will also allow more STEM Ambassadors from the quantum sector to head into classrooms to inspire and inform young people.”

Tim Spiller, Director of the EPSRC Quantum Communications Hub, said: “Suitably skilled and trained people will be crucial to maintaining the UK’s world-leading research, development and commercialisation in quantum technologies. Enthusing and teaching in schools is the place to start. The expansion of Quantum Ambassadors will make a very important contribution to this.”

The scheme will be launched in the next academic year.

To find out more visit the Quantum Ambassadors pages