UK’s leading STEM education charities merge

The Smallpeice Trust and the Arkwright Scholarships Trust are joining forces to offer co-ordinated STEM learning for all

Two of the UK’s leading educational charities, The Smallpeice Trust and the Arkwright Scholarships Trust agreed to formally merge on Thursday 7th December. The combined organisation will operate under The Smallpeice Trust name. Dr Kevin P Stenson, Chief Executive of The Smallpeice Trust, has been named as CEO of the combined organisation, which in addition to being the UK’s largest STEM education charity will now also deliver the UK’s most prestigious engineering Scholarship programme for 16 – 18 year olds. 

The move will offer students between the ages of 11 and 21 years access to leading STEM education and scholarship opportunities throughout their school careers and beyond. This integration will also offer educational institutions, parents and young students a single point of contact for a wide range of STEM resources, courses, scholarships and mentors already working within the engineering and science sectors.

This new model will ensure there is contact with students at the key points in their educational career, to help cultivate a passion for engineering in the critical 14 to 18 age range, when so many students currently decide to look elsewhere for careers. 

The Arkwright Scholarships Trust awarded 425 Scholarships to students this year, and The Smallpeice Trust reached 50,000 school students, through 700 programmes organised across the UK. The significant success of both organisations in recent years provides a real platform to help solve a ‘once in a generation’ challenge, with over 1.8 million engineers needed by 2022. There is hope that a more integrated approach will provide a catalyst for a change in culture throughout the education system by ensuring enthusiastic children do not run out of opportunities to develop engineering and science skills, and for schools and institutions to provide a clearer path to achieve their goals at every stage of education.

Dr Kevin Stenson

Dr Kevin P Stenson, Chief Executive of The Smallpeice Trust and Arkwright Scholarships Trust says, “The full integration of the two fantastic charities within the Smallpeice Group of charities will offer so much to all of our stakeholders, from the teachers at schools and universities entrusted with the task of preparing UK students for the future world of work, to the CEOs of UK advanced manufacturers who are looking for new skilled engineering workers to meet demand.

“I and the Board of Trustees believe that a combined organisation can support young people, irrespective of their background or academic ability, on a STEM journey that transforms their lives for the benefit of UK engineering, be that as an apprentice, graduate, technician, or future leader.”

The benefits of the merger for school leaders and teachers is the creation of access to a single point of resources for co-ordinated STEM lesson kits, school STEM Days, residential courses, all the way through to Engineering Scholarships offering financial incentives to students and affiliated schools. This will allow schools to work with the joint organisation to develop a STEM programme that serves each stage of school life from age 11 to 18 and then through higher education to 21 years, and provide access to a generation of STEM ambassadors that have developed through the ranks.

Rachael Warwick, Executive Headteacher of Ridgeway Education Trust, comments, “Education institutions are committed to providing opportunities which provide all young people with a route from education into work.  Schools often have initial success inspiring children with the possibilities of engineering careers through STEM lessons, but maintaining interest and passion, particularly during the critical years of 14 to 18, can prove challenging. This merger between two highly respected, well-resourced organisations provides the all-through programme of STEM support that the education sector has been seeking.”

Phillip Greenish CBE, Chief Executive, Royal Academy of Engineering, adds, “With the landscape of UK engineering and manufacturing evolving, it is essential that organisations such as The Smallpeice Trust and the Arkwright Scholarships Trust continue to adapt their offer to meet the needs of industry in the 21st Century. This merger offers a welcome consolidation and a forward looking approach helping young people understand and prepare for exciting careers in 21st century engineering. I welcome the move.”