The Future Brunels programme aims to inspire and enthuse young people with science and engineering throughout their time at secondary school.
By introducing young people to the impacts science and engineering have already on their own and other’s lives, and to the range of career options available to them through studying STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) subjects, the programme encourages the Future Brunels to consider careers in the broadest set of STEM fields.
Working with our four partner Future Brunels schools, Bedminster Down School, Cotham School, Merchants’ Academy, and Redland Green School, and supported by members of the Brunel Institute Corporate Academy, the Trust selects a cohort of 12 children in each academic year to join the Future Brunels programme.
Each cohort spends five years on the programme - from Year 7 to Year 11 – taking part in a series of exclusive out of school activity days designed to sustain interest and enthusiasm in STEM subjects and to give the Future Brunels an understanding of the options open to them by continuing these subjects through further education and beyond.
The programme is organised around five themes, taking inspiration from the multi-disciplinary talents of I.K. Brunel:
- The Scientist - exploring the world around us
- The Polymath - making connections between the arts and sciences
- The Magician - technological advancements and seeing behind the scenes of STEM
- The Engineer - shaping the world and pushing boundaries
- The Human-being - the impact of science and engineering on our lives and our world today
Instead of delivering curriculum content, the programme concentrates on providing a rich and varied programme of STEM-related experiences; all these activities support school science and provide a real world context to what the Future Brunels may learn in school.
From looking at the engineering and science behind rollercoasters during a visit to Thorpe Park, and discovering how advances in technology shape creative industries at Aardman Animations, to exploring the chemistry of traditional dark-room photographic techniques, visiting university research laboratories, and seeing behind the scenes at a sewage treatment works, the programme widens the Future Brunels’ views of STEM beyond school.
The opportunity to meet people who work in such varied fields and come from a range of backgrounds, and who all use science and engineering in their jobs, also provides STEM role models for the Future Brunels.
Throughout the programme the Future Brunels become part of the ss Great Britain staff and volunteer community, build their confidence in STEM, and get to know young people from other schools who they might not otherwise meet. The programme’s innovative combined approach gives the programme the power to shift perceptions and aspirations, and show STEM, and related professions, as relevant, innovative, creative, desirable, and achievable.
Throughout the first five-year pilot phase of the programme, an evaluation project was carried out by staff from the Graduate School of Education at the University of Bristol.
The evaluation tracked the development of the Future Brunels throughout their time on the programme. Through regular feedback to the education team, the ongoing evaluation helped shape the programme during the pilot phase and the results of the evaluation are informing the development of the next stage of the programme.
The results show that the Future Brunels' activities have allowed participants to recognise new possibilities for their own career aspirations and imagined future selves. Opportunities to engage with scientists and engineers, understand more about their working lives, and experience what it would be like to work in a variety of STEM fields have encouraged the Future Brunels to consider and explore further education and careers in science and engineering.
Following the outstanding results demonstrated by the five-year pilot phase, the Trust has decided to extend the benefits of this programme to many more young people and grow their knowledge and enthusiasm for science, technology, engineering and maths.
Developed from experience, understanding and research, the planned expansion will focus on four key areas:
- Double the number of Future Brunels on the programme, from 60 to 120, by expanding the working partnerships with secondary schools across Bristol
- Work with children from feeder primary schools to lay the foundation for the Future Brunels programme, and develop their interest and enthusiasm for science, technology, engineering and maths
- Work with families and their communities so that they can help the Future Brunels see themselves as future scientists and engineers
- Work with the full year groups in partner secondary schools to provide inventive activities and experiences that will extend the benefits of the Future Brunels programme to a wider audience
The Future Brunels programme would not be possible without generous support from many individuals and organisations. In particular, the Trust is grateful for significant investment and encouragement from the Lloyd's Register Foundation in the five-year pilot phase of the Future Brunels programme, along with important support from the Society of Merchant Venturers, the University of Bristol and members of the Trust’s Brunel Institute Corporate Academy.