What Is STEM

STEM stands for science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. STEM is important because it pervades every part of our lives. Science is everywhere in the world around us.

STEM subjects are integral to the success of the UK and indeed our country has an outstanding track record in these areas; one example being that despite having only 1% of the world’s population we produce 10% of the top scientific research. In recent years, however, despite the fact that graduates in STEM subjects can earn among the highest salaries of all new recruits, employers are finding it immensely difficult to employ skilled STEM staff in sufficient numbers.

The UK Government has long identified STEM provision at school and Higher Education level as a priority. At The Priory School we are very keen to provide the best STEM provision that we can for our students, in and out of lessons.

We aim to do this by constantly improving the quality of STEM subject lessons and promoting student involvement in STEM-related activities outside of the classroom. Careers in STEM subjects have the potential to be among the most interesting and fulfilling; we aim to give our students as many opportunities as possible to develop their interests in these areas.

STEM across the curriculum

As well as STEM being taught in the subjects referred to above, it is also evident across our school curriculum ranging from; Building models of Norman castles as part of Year 7 History lessons, taster sessions in areas such as animal care and construction at Oaklands college through raising aspirations, planning gas and electric supply and building infrastructure in Geography, studying the brain in psychology lessons and the study of the science of nutrition in Food.

Events across the school year


In July 38 of our students attended the Royal Air tattoo at RAF Fairford to help celebrate 100 years of the RAF. The event was attended by school students from all over the country and combined an amazing airshow with ‘Technozones’ that allowed students to gain an insight into career paths in the aerospace industry. The airshow featured aircraft fly pasts including; Lancaster bombers, submarine spitfires, the red arrows display team and the latest F-35 fighter planes. Students were able to gain first hand access to lots of the planes on static display and were able to talk to the pilots and ground crew about careers in aviation. Students commented that their favorite part of the day was “seeing the red arrow display team and getting to go inside the A400 transport plane”.

Both students and staff had a fantastic trip and were certainly inspired by the technology on display at the Air tattoo.


Thank you very much to Morrison Utility Services who came in to do a challenge with our Year 10 female geographers on Tuesday 3rd July.

The students were tasked with planning to supply a Russian football stadium with gas and electricity and build roads and houses all within a limited time frame and for the smallest budget. They had to present their work and try to win the contract to do the work.

The workshop was to promote International Women in Engineering Day, which was on 23rd June, and also to show how geography can be applied to the world of work.


On Wednesday 6th June, sixteen Year 10 students visited the St Albans campus of Oaklands College for a taster day. Students were able to pick two taster sessions including from Equine Studies, Animal Studies, Catering Hospitality and Carpentry.

It was an excellent opportunity for the students to experience college life and to see if that would be a Post 16 route that they would like to take.

Mrs Emler, Raising Aspirations


Year 8 and Year 10 Food and Nutrition students had such a great day with the Chinese Ambassadors from Ming‐Ai (London) Institute! Students from both classes got to discover how easy it is to make your own balanced Chinese meal and mastered the classic Chinese dish, Kung Pao Chicken (宫保鸡丁). Plus the Year 10 GCSE students worked on their presentation skills, using all kinds of garnishes and plating up their steamed rice creatively.

Well done everyone!

Mrs Adelusi, Design Technology Department


On Thursday 15th March a large group of our Year 8 and Year 9 students had the opportunity to visit the Big Bang Fair in Birmingham as part of British Science Week. Students got to visit exhibitions on virtual reality, medicine, marine biology, film and TV, space exploration, explosive chemistry, crime‐solving, robots, computer coding, microscopic bugs, giant trucks and lots more. Students were able to talk to representatives from companies ranging from the NHS and Glaxo to Shell and GCHQ about the exciting careers in the STEM industry.

It is hoped that this trip will inspire some of our young people to pursue careers in this rewarding sector.

Year 7 students also had an assembly on the importance of STEM and ways in which they can get involved in STEM activities and clubs around the school. This was delivered by members of our STEM school committee who are looking to recruit new students.

Six of our Year 9 students (James, Emma, John, Nicole, Raheim and Chelsea) have been working alongside STEM ambassadors from Leonardo on a Go4Set project titled ‘Our school as an island’. Students have been making a proposal for our school as a completely functional island.

To do this they have had to consider the location, sources of sustainable energy and the transport to get to and from the school. They presented their ideas and detailed report to Leonardo company judges at the company’s UK base at capability green in Luton at the end of March.

Other STEM events in British Science Week included a visit from an ambassador from the Royal Engineers who be presented to our Year 10 students about his work as a Civil Engineer in disaster relief areas and building infrastructure for the armed forces. Our Year 10 Geography students also had a talk from a geophysicist on ‘Listening to the earth’ involving the impact of fracking, earthquakes and nuclear testing.


Students from The Priory School have been inspired by a visit to CERN, home of the Large Hadron Collider.

During the visit in February the students discovered how CERN is helping to answer some of the most fundamental questions: How did the Universe begin? What are the basic building blocks of matter?

Scientific breakthroughs, such as the discovery of the Higgs boson, require experimental machines on the large scale, and the students gained an appreciation of the technical and engineering challenges that the multinational experimental collaborations at CERN face.

The UK has been a member of CERN since the organisation was founded in 1954. Membership allows British researchers to take a wide variety of roles that contribute to CERN’s ongoing success, from recently qualified technicians and university undergraduates gaining their first taste of working in an international environment to PhD students analysing experimental data and experienced engineers and physicists leading projects or representing their experimental collaborations. The Priory School students’ visit was led by a member of the CERN community who talked from personal experience about their contribution to CERN’s research programme.

Students also visited the UN Palace in Geneva as well as the History of Science Museum and the Natural Science Museum in Geneva. The trip was a success and is being planned again.

Thanks to Mrs Bonner, Science Department


Year 12 and Year 13 took part in a ‘Brain Day’ on Friday 2nd March run by Dr Guy Sutton who is the Director and Founder of Medical Biology Interactive and an Honorary Consultant Assistant Professor at the University of Nottingham Medical School. The day included university-style lectures on the structure and function of the brain, as well as insights into schizophrenia and forensic psychology.

Dr Sutton was extremely knowledgeable and passionate about his topic and kept us all enthralled for the duration of his presentation.

The culmination of the day was the dissection of a sheep brain, which enabled us to compare the structures and functions to those of the human brain. Those students who chose to were able to hold the brain and examine it close up.

The visit not only gave us an introduction to practical neuropsychology but left our brains considering all sorts of ethical and philosophical questions: How much control do we have over our behaviour?

Does free will really exist?

Miss Wilcox, Head of Psychology & Sociology Department


In February, the RAF visited The Priory School and presented their Roadshow to an audience of Year 7 students. The fun presentation informed students of the array of career choices available including scientists, technologists, engineers and mathematicians. It also included a Jet engine demo! At the close of the presentation several students jumped at the chance to ask questions.


Eight Year 11 girls were invited to the Willmott Dixon offices in Hitchin for a follow up to the workshop that took place in 2017. The students had a chance to do some networking with a number of different people from different areas of the company. They also learned about how to present themselves in interviews, plus they were given a guided tour of a local

building site in Letchworth.

Willmot Dixon are doing their bit to try and increase the number of females in the industry and we thank them for their continued investment in the school and our students.

Mrs Emler, Raising Aspirations


Students at The Priory School achieved one Gold, two Silver and five Bronze certificates in this year’s UKMT Senior Mathematical Challenge. The competition encourages mathematical reasoning, precision of thought and fluency in using basic mathematical techniques to solve interesting problems. Over 82,000 students from across the UK tackled the Senior Mathematical Challenge, with the top 10% receiving a Gold certificate, the next 20% Silver and the next 30% Bronze.

Odysseas Kalatzis in Year 13 achieved the Best in School certificate and qualified for

the next round, known as the Senior Kangaroo Challenge. We await on his result.

Well done to all of those who took part.

Dr Kisby, KS5 Maths Teacher


The new Ugly Animals Mascot for Year 7 is… THE MONKFISH!!

Year 7s were treated to an amazing talk from Simon Watt, the founder of the Ugly Animal Preservation Society. They learnt all about the different ugly animals that are found around the world and their interesting defensive mechanisms and eating habits.

After the talk the students were set the challenge to find an ugly animal of their own. They then had to produce a presentation about it, and the winning presentations from each form group went on to present again in front of the whole form. There was everything from the naked mole rat to the goblin shark; the star nosed mole to the sea pig!

Mrs Emler, Raising Aspirations


We also have a number of weekly STEM-related clubs:

  • Science Club – Year 7
  • Environmental Science Club – Year 8
  • Robot Rumble – Year 9
  • Cooking & Gardening Club – Years 7, 8 & 9
  • KS3 Creative Computing Club
  • Girls Coding Club
  • Coding & Raspberry Pi Club