STEM A Levels – Nigerian girl’s engineering dream comes true & Formula One studies pay off
A girls’ school education has paid off for two would-be engineers.
Tolulope Taiwo-Ashaju (‘Tolu’) from Nigeria has a place to read Civil Engineering at Cambridge University, thanks to five A* grades at A Level and an education at a UK Girls’ Schools Association school.
Tolu came to the UK with a vision to study engineering. Approximately half of women in Nigeria can read and write, compared to 72 percent of men, so success at this level in a STEM subject is a huge achievement. Both countries want to increase the number of female engineers; in Britain only 8.5 per cent of engineers are women, the lowest percentage in Europe.
Tolu sat A Levels in Biology, Chemistry, Physics, Mathematics and Further Mathematics at St Catherine’s, Bramley which is an independent girls’ school near Guildford. As well as five A*s, she has also been awarded a Cambridge Commonwealth, European and International Trust (CCEIT) Scholarship. Her ambition is to qualify as a Civil Engineer so she can use her skills to work globally and make a positive contribution to life in Nigeria. She said:
“There is still so much in store for civil engineers in Nigeria. I would like to see vast improvements in the buildings and structures in certain regions of sub-Saharan Africa, dive into the realm of materials and find alternatives to the composites already in use.”
Meanwhile, studying Formula One technology for her Extended Project Qualification has helpedCharlotte Gilmore (‘Lottie’) gain a place studying Mechanical Engineering at the University of Bath.
Lottie, from Burgess Hill School for Girls in Sussex, gained an A* in her EPQ plus A* Grades in Chemistry, Mathematics and Physics an A in AS level Further Mathematics. She hopes to gain a scholarship with Land Rover or The Institute of Engineering and Technology.
Tolu’s and Lottie’s STEM success is the tip of the iceberg in Girls’ Schools Association schools where over 55 per cent of girls take at least one STEM subject at A Level. They are 75% more likely than other UK girls to take Maths A-level, 70% more likely to take Chemistry, and two and a half times as likely to take Physics. This year girls from GSA schools have continued to punch well above their weight in STEM subjects.
Girls Schools Association president, Alice Phillips, said:
“The proportion of girls from GSA schools who have sat and passed STEM A Levels with high grades this year is a clear sign that a girls’ school environment is one of the most effective ways of eradicating the gender stereotyping that prevents so many girls in this country from realising their potential.”
Individual STEM Success Stories
Individual student success stories include Clare Rees-Zimmerman from Sheffield High School who has nine A Levels under her belt – including six A* grades in STEM subjects – and an unconditional offer to study Chemical Engineering via Natural Sciences at Trinity College Cambridge.
Kumiko Kawato from Alderley Edge School for Girls in Cheshire achieved 2 A* and 2 A grades and will now read Physics at Imperial College, London. Kumiko, from Japan, started her UK education in year 10 with a limited knowledge of the English Language.
Five girls from St Leonards-Mayfield School in Sussex are heading off to study STEM subjects at Cambridge University. Moji Agboola will read Engineering at Peterhouse, Cambridge, Ellie Cox – a finalist in the UK Young Scientist of the Year competition – will read Medicine at Emmanuel College, Jenny Shepherd will read Engineering at Emmanuel College, and Ella Strudley will read Natural Sciences at Clare College. Half of all St Leonards-Mayfield’s year 13 girls who took Mathematics were awarded A*, 80% got A* in Further Mathematics and 75% of Physics grades were A*.
School STEM Statistics
Some of the GSA schools at the forefront of STEM success include The Abbey School in Reading where 31 girls are now going to study STEM-related degree subjects.
All the girls who took Further Mathematics and/or Physics at Farnborough Hill in Hampshire achieved A* grades.
At St Mary’s School in Cambridge 70% of girls have an A* or A in Mathematics this year and 100% A*/A in Further Mathematics. Headmistress, Charlotte Avery, said:
“Our single-sex environment leads to more diverse subject choices by our girls who are confident choosing Physics alongside Photography, Chemistry alongside Classical Civilisation, and Mathematics alongside French.”
At Moreton Hall in Lancashire 64 per cent of Year 13 students chose STEM subjects as part of their A Level portfolio following the opening of a new Science Centre at the school. At Gateways School near Leeds all A2 candidates entered for Maths, Further Maths or Physics walked off with an A* or A grade. At Redland High School in Bristol half of all the girls in Year 13 sat at least one STEM A Level and 75% of all STEM grades achieved were grade A* or A. At St Swithun’s School in Winchester 100% of Physics candidates achieved A*/A grades and 90% of all entries in Maths were graded A*/A.