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13th January 2021

An update from our CEO

Dear Friends,

I hope you and your families continue to keep safe and well.

2021 has got off to an unexpectedly mixed start; with the light at the end of the tunnel afforded by the Government’s ambitious vaccination programme being juxtaposed with a third national lockdown and school closures confirmed until February half term at the earliest. While this is not the start to 2021 that any of us hoped or planned for, it is the one we must respond to.

The Smallpeice Trust continues to do its bit in support of lockdown three with the entire team working from home in line with the Government guidance. We are offering online learning activities to students across the whole UK in collaboration with our incredible partners.

Engineering@Home – new projects

In support of parents returning to home schooling, the Trust’s brilliant Engineering@Home programme can still be accessed for free via our website and YouTube channel. In addition to our original 15 projects launched during the first national lockdown, our funders have made it possible for five new projects to be created. Our Engineering@Home projects cover topics as diverse as holograms, keyhole surgery, robotic hands and satellites. They can be enjoyed by children of all ages with their parents and can be completed in around an hour using easily accessible household objects. To date, our suite of 20 Engineering@Home projects have received over 47,000 video views.

2021 Arkwright Engineering Scholarships – extended deadline

In response to school closures and in order to support busy teachers and their students at this difficult time, we have taken the decision to extend the deadline for 2021 Arkwright Engineering Scholarship applications by two weeks to Monday 1 February 2021 at 16:00. We hope this small extension will give the students and teachers impacted by the unexpected move to remote learning the time they need to complete their applications. We are keen that students do not miss out on the opportunity to secure a Scholarship in this the programme’s 30th anniversary year.

School closures have also necessitated the need for the Trust to move the Arkwright Engineering Scholarship aptitude examination (which is sat under examination conditions in schools) from early February to mid-March to align with when schools are expected to reopen. The interview process will now reflect the later than usual aptitude examination. The Trust has developed a contingency plan for a scenario in which schools do not reopen until after the Easter break. I will update you all if we need to trigger this contingency plan.

Residential courses and STEM Days go virtual

In place of residential courses, in 2021 the Trust is offering a number of online courses for students in Years 9 – 12, or equivalent, during February half term, Easter break, May half term, and summer break. New courses are being added in collaboration with our partners, and so I would encourage parents, students and teachers to continue to visit our website if you are interested in accessing our excellent online courses.

Since September 2020, the Trust has been delivering online STEM Days with our partners in support of both Primary and Secondary Schools across the UK. These have been delivered virtually from the Trust’s Leamington Spa head office from our two broadcasting studios. We are working with our partners to understand how we can continue to support schools via online STEM Days, either for the benefit of vulnerable students or the children of key workers still at school during lockdown, or for the benefit of students being home-schooled. Teacher colleagues reading this update are encouraged to contact the team before postponing an online STEM Day scheduled during the next few months.

New programmes being developed

During this third lockdown the Trust’s expert team remains hard at work designing new programmes in collaboration with a number of our partners, including BAE Systems, the Royal Air Force, the Royal Navy and Raising Robots. We will continue to reach out to teacher colleagues in schools to support the design, development and piloting of these new exciting programmes for Key Stage 2, 3 and 4 students. I look forward to sharing the details of these new programmes with you as part of a future update.

Together we can achieve more

The Smallpeice Trust remains committed to providing young people with life changing opportunities to engage with, and be inspired by engineering, whatever scenarios COVID-19 may present. We welcome and enjoy working collaboratively with our partners; this fits with our core value of Togetherness (together we can achieve more). If at any time you would like a virtual meeting or further information on the work we are doing, please do get in contact. I would like to take this opportunity to thank you for your continued support which helps us to grow the talent pipeline of engineers in the UK.

Dr Kevin P. Stenson
CEO, The Smallpeice Trust

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