Green light for Dyson STEAM donation

  • 19th March 2024

A £6m donation to build a first-class science, technology, engineering, art and maths (STEAM) centre in Wiltshire has received the green light from Education Secretary, Gillian Keegan.

Ministers at the department for education have approved the expansion of Malmesbury Primary School in Wiltshire for the new centre, which was a condition of the donation from the Dyson Foundation.

The expansion will see purpose-built rooms equipped for design, technology, art, science, and mathematics-based activities as well as additional classrooms.

And, if planning permission is approved by Wiltshire Council, it is expected to be open to pupils from September 2027.

The Prime Minister has, separately, announced his ambitious 10-year plan to drive up young people’s skills through the Advanced British Standard, requiring all pupils in England to study some form of maths to the age of 18.

This will help embed essential numeracy skills and give young people a platform to develop STEM expertise, supporting the Government’s plan to create a world-class education system by growing the economy and investing in the skills that industry needs.

The reforms are already improving maths education and driving up standards, with the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) study finding that England outperformed the international average in maths, rising to 11th in international league tables in 2022.

Keegan said: “I welcome this generous donation from the Dyson Foundation, which will support cutting-edge education for local pupils, helping to develop the scientists and engineers of the future.

“This new centre will provide world-class facilities for pupils in Malmesbury and the surrounding areas to inspire them and develop the skills we need to compete on the world stage.

“The £6m donation builds on the work we have been doing to boost the uptake of STEM subjects in schools and through apprenticeships and further education, boosting growth and opportunity in these vital sectors.”

To support growth and develop STEM skills, the department runs programmes such as the Stimulating Physics Network, and has a network of maths hubs and scholarships worth £30,000 to encourage more teachers to nurture future talent by teaching STEM subjects.

Additionally, design and technology trainee teachers will now receive tax free bursaries of £25,000 to train to teach, up from £20,000 in the academic year 2023/24.

New T Level qualifications are also being rolled out, including in engineering and manufacturing, while a network of 21 Institutes of Technology is being established to work closely with industry and pioneer higher-level STEM training.

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