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					                The INPUT Project
  (Industry Project: Understanding Technology)

          An investigation supported by
The Gatsby Technical Education Programme (GTEP)

                        October 2005

    Prepared for the Gatsby Technical Education Programme by:
                  Centre for Education and Industry
                       University of Warwick
                              CV4 7AL

                       Tel: 024 7652 3909
                       Fax: 024 7652 3617

    The INPUT Project (Industry Project: Understanding Technology)

Executive Summary
The Centre for Education and Industry (CEI) at the University of Warwick carried out
this research, funded by a grant from the Gatsby Technical Education Programme
(GTEP), focusing on the INPUT programme. The aim of the research was to
investigate the extent to which INPUT is achieving its aims. Previous research by the
National Centre for Social Research studied four INPUT events, producing a mainly
quantitative report based on student responses to questionnaires. Following
discussion with GTEP, CEI elected to investigate a variety of INPUT projects across
the secondary school age range. A qualitative approach was selected as most
appropriate and useful, given the wide variety of contexts, and the fact that previous
investigations had used quantitative methods.


The investigation set out to gather data from students, teachers, and partners (e.g.
engineers, EBPs, SETPOINTs) involved in INPUT programmes. A „Topic Guide‟
containing a list of key questions was designed to facilitate a flexible approach to the
collection of data, in addition to basic information about each event evaluated. A
copy of the Topic Guide is provided in Appendix 1.

The methodology included the following activities:

   An investigator attended nine different INPUT events, covering the secondary
    school age range and a variety of projects. Attendance covered the whole event,
    including preparation and clearing-up. A combination of observation, and
    informal questioning, based on the Topic Guide was used to gather as much data
    as possible from students, teachers and partners, before, during and after the
    event. Over 500 students, from Year 6 to Year 12, and over 50 teachers and
    partners were surveyed in these nine events. An internal report was written for
    each of the events, and these were used in the compilation of this final report;

   Telephone interviews with 5 key partners and contacts;

   Reference to relevant reports and documents;

Summary of key findings

   INPUT is a well established project, originating in 1985, which is cost-effective,
    and provides good value for money for participants and sponsors. There
    continues to be a strong demand for INPUT programmes from both primary and
    secondary education sectors. INPUT achieves a high output, in terms of
    programmes and services offered, in relation to its modest staffing levels;

   INPUT programmes are found to be enjoyable, stimulating and motivating for
    almost all participating students. Levels of engagement of students are
    consistently high;

   Teachers find INPUT programmes valuable and worthwhile for their students,
    delivering relevant curriculum content, especially in science, and design and
    technology, and also helping development of key and generic skills (e.g. team

    work, communication, decision making and problem solving). The practical
    nature of the activities is particularly valued by students and teachers. INPUT
    uses a teaching and learning style that is highly kinaesthetic, and contrasts with
    much of the experience of many students at school. This is appreciated by both
    student and their teachers;

   INPUT provides professional development for primary and secondary school
    teachers though structured sessions (e.g. at the London Eye). These sessions
    have proved very successful, and have been rated very highly by the participating
    teachers. Furthermore, the evidence shows that they do lead to further
    development of INPUT and related project work in schools. Teachers welcome
    the simplicity and low cost of key activities, and the opportunity they provide to
    use a different teaching and learning style;

   INPUT activities can, and do deliver learning outcomes in science, technology
    and mathematics in line with the objectives of the project. Whilst a typical INPUT
    event does include identification of these outcomes, within the limitations of time
    „on the day‟, there appears to be variation in the extent to which these are
    reinforced by teachers within their curriculum plans. The fact that INPUT
    activities are effective in delivering learning outcomes in key and generic skills
    can sometimes lead teachers to lose some focus on the science and technology
    learning outcomes;

    INPUT does provide activities based on a unified view of science, technology
    and engineering, in line with the philosophy of the project. This gives the
    activities a degree of realism that contributes to the motivation of students and
    the success of the events. However, secondary education is based on a
    curriculum divided into separate subjects, and this may be a barrier to the full
    achievement of INPUT‟s aims. It may contribute to the limited capacity of
    teachers to capitalise on the opportunities offered by INPUT and other STEM
    programmes. It also limits the extent to which INPUT and other STEM
    programmes are supported or appreciated by those responsible for „mainstream
    education‟ e.g. DfES, OFSTED, QCA;

   INPUT does provide experience that can help to raise awareness amongst young
    people about engineering and technology-based careers. It is, however, very
    difficult to conclude anything about the project‟s influence on future career
    choices. This is equally the case with many STEM programmes. There are
    many powerful influences acting on young people‟s career choices. An INPUT
    event is unlikely to have a significant effect on career choice in most young
    people, unless supported by wider cultural experience in school and in their

   INPUT activities are valuable in contributing to the development of enterprise
    capability. Enterprise education is to be included in the educational experience of
    all Key Stage 4 students from 2005. INPUT provides a vehicle for science and
    technology parts of the curriculum to contribute to this agenda;

   Partners of INPUT who were surveyed in this invexstigation have high regard for
    the project. Their satisfaction with the project is illustrated by the fact that they
    tend to form a lasting relationship with INPUT. Some of these partners, including
    some engineers, make a very valuable contribution. There appears to be scope
    for more involvement of engineers e.g. through Science and Engineering

    Ambassadors. The quality of selection, training and preparation of these partners
    is important.

   In relation to its aims, INPUT has achieved a measure of success that is
    impressive given the available resources and the educational context. INPUT
    shares a challenge faced by other STEM initiatives in that it does not always „fit‟
    well with the structure of the secondary school curriculum. In seeking to improve
    the effectiveness of INPUT in achieving its aims more widely, it will be important
    to address the educational context in which it is operating;


   INPUT offers valuable and relevant learning opportunities, which do address the
    objectives of the project. This work should continue. Whilst INPUT has shown
    that it can attract funding from a variety of sources, it is the view of the evaluators
    that a foundation of core funding is required if the project is to develop
    successfully in future. The history of projects which become „self-financing‟
    includes numerous examples where the energy diverted into fund-raising renders
    the project less effective in achieving its purpose.

   The INPUT portfolio of activities should be reviewed and updated. The most
    popular and successful activities should be maintained, with enhancement, if
    appropriate. In addition, it would be valuable to develop and add some brand
    new ideas and activities. This would help to „refresh‟ the project, and add new

   The updating of the INPUT portfolio should look for opportunities to draw out
    potential for „enterprise education‟ and the development of enterprise capabilities.
    This is already included in some cases, but, given the current emphasis on
    enterprise education it would be appropriate to extend this dimension, and make
    it more explicit.

   INPUT should produce some new guidance materials (a support package) for
    teachers and schools participating in INPUT. A vital component of this package
    would be guidance, and resources to assist high quality briefing, preparation and
    follow-up linked to the practical sessions. This would aim to maximise the
    learning outcomes for students, and relate these to the wider curriculum.

   INPUT should produce some new guidance materials (a support package) for
    engineers, and partner organisations (e.g. companies). These materials would
    not only provide information about the activity, but would include important advice
    on the „facilitator‟ role of the engineer, and the intended learning style and
    approach favoured by INPUT.

   INPUT should build on the successful professional development programmes for
    teachers, including a pilot for secondary teachers which brings together cross-
    curricular „teams‟ from schools (e.g. design and technology, science and
    mathematics). Professional development sessions should be supported by any
    new guidance materials.

   INPUT should consider setting up a training programme for engineers and other
    partners. This could be delivered as a group session, or via a distributed learning
    package e.g. a CD ROM. The training should be based on the content of any
    new guidance materials

    INPUT should draw up and trial a simple „operating agreement‟ with participating
    schools or delivery partners. This would not have any „legal‟ status, but would
    require schools and partners to state how they intend to contribute to the learning
    experience for students, through prior preparation, support, de-briefing and
    follow-up. This would allow INPUT to reinforce the science, technology and
    engineering objectives

   INPUT should develop a clear strategy for future staffing and delivery. The
    national programme is heavily reliant on the INPUT Director and one regular
    supporting engineer. This will not be sustainable in the long term, if INPUT is to
    maintain its current good level of service, and develop further.

Detailed Report
Background and Introduction

The INPUT scheme was first conceived in 1985, in response to a perceived need to
attract more young people into careers in science and engineering. The first
programme ran in 1986 (Industry Year) at the University of Durham, as a four-day
residential course in technology for 120 students aged 15-16 years, with 30 teachers
drawn from schools across the North of England. This first programme was
supported by the Smallpeice Trust. Residential courses ran successfully at Durham
University from 1986 to 1991. Funding and support for the INPUT project has come
from a range of sources. The Gatsby Foundation has provided funding since 1992.

The initial aim of the INPUT programme was:

“to make young people and their teachers more aware of the challenge of
engineering and the career opportunities available in industry”

In response to feedback from teachers, strongly influenced by growing pressures in
schools which made attendance at extended residentials more difficult, a new style of
INPUT course developed from 1992 onwards, based on one-day or half-day
programmes. These programmes were offered in a variety of venues (e.g. teachers‟
centres, Universities, companies, and leisure centres), extending beyond the North of
England, to other parts of the country. By 1996, about 10000 students per year
were taking part in INPUT programmes

The key characteristics of INPUT programmes were that they offered:

   A unified view of science and engineering, drawing on, and applying knowledge
    and skills in mathematics, science and technology;

   A challenge to the creativity and imagination of young people, by requiring them
    to solve practical problems, by designing, making and testing a solution;

In a report on the INPUT programme (1997), reference was made to new
developments and new approaches, with a clear recognition of the importance of
teacher development as a means to cascade the INPUT „experience‟ to even more

“The general public may see an INPUT course solely in terms of young people and
the learning which follows when they respond to a technological challenge.
However, from the start of the scheme, it was recognised that there are two courses
operating in parallel. The most obvious course is that followed by the students, but
alongside this, there is another course where teachers act as well informed
observers who can transfer the approach into their own schools”

(Marsh H 1997 INPUT: The long projects. Technology projects to encourage
innovation at all ages).

INPUT has continued to develop since 1997, offering a very flexible model of delivery
which can provide programmes:

   For students from all age groups from 9 to 19;

   For students with a wide range of abilities;

   In a wide range of venues (schools, universities, companies, centres);

   For individual schools, or for groups of schools;

   For sessions lasting from not much more than one hour, to a whole day;

   As part of longer residential programmes;

   As specific teacher professional development sessions.

The current aims of INPUT, as stated on the website are:

   To motivate students in the curriculum areas of maths, science and technology;

   To develop the technological problem-solving ability of students;

   To encourage student awareness of the importance of technological industry and
    of engineering careers;

   To provide ideas for project work for teachers;

   To promote the range of engineering activities available to schools and in
    particular the Engineering Education Scheme, Headstart and other components
    of The Royal Academy of Engineering's Best Programme;

   To provide opportunities for engineering and education students, and Science
    and Engineering Ambassadors (SEAs) to work with schools.

Whilst these aims are more detailed and specific than the original stated aim of
INPUT, they are entirely consistent with the original aim, and underpin the same key
characteristics, based on creative problem solving, and a unified view which
incorporates mathematics, science, technology and engineering.

Input Projects

INPUT offers a range of technology projects, developed over many years. Many of
the projects were originally devised at the Engineering Department of Durham
University. Other projects have been devised by agencies such as the Institute of
Civil Engineers and the Construction Industry Training Board. There are several
types of project including:

   Construction projects (usually using paper tubes joined by nuts and bolts) e.g.
    bridges, towers and the Millennium Wheel;

   Wind power projects, e.g. the wind turbine, and the wind powered vehicle;

   Projects involving electrical control mechanisms e.g robot vehicle;

   Pool projects e.g. creating an amphibious vehicle that can collect items in a water

   Aerodynamics projects e.g. rocket building;

   Combinations of these themes.

A typical INPUT project is based on a „challenge‟ to achieve the best and most
efficient performance in an object or device as described in the initial brief. The key
steps are to design, to build and to test the device, working in small teams, working
to a deadline, and often with an element of competition. Many projects can be
differentiated for different age or ability groups, by modifying the initial brief. Younger
or less capable groups can be given more guidance, advice and examples. High
ability groups can be set the problem, with only the bare essential information about
how to use the available materials. Additional dimensions can be added to some
projects e.g. financial dimensions, by including costing of materials, or scientific
enhancement by calculating the power generated by a wind turbine.

The Research Methodology

A number of factors were taken into account when deciding on a methodology for this
investigtion. The key issues were:

   The wide range of different INPUT projects;

   INPUT programmes are offered to a wide range of age groups (9 – 19 years),
    sometimes with different year groups mixed together;

   INPUT programmes are offered to a wide range of academic abilities;

   INPUT programmes take place in a variety of venues;

   INPUT programmes cater for a wide range of group sizes, from a single class
    group ( e.g. 20 students) up to large events with more than 100 students. A
    single school or a group of schools may be involved;

   INPUT also offers a number of teacher professional development programmes
    (attended only by teachers) for both primary and secondary teachers;

   INPUT programmes vary in length, typically between one hour and a whole day
    (5 hours);

    INPUT programmes are „staffed‟ by a variety of people, including INPUT staff,
    teachers, staff from EBPs or SETPOINTS, engineers, and representatives from
    Engineering Institutions, representatives from companies or other partner
    organisations (e.g. The Royal Navy);

   Previous work carried out by the National Centre for Social Research (2001) had
    used pre and post event questionnaire surveys of students, administered on the
    same day as the event.

The INPUT programme is unusual in the exceptional breadth of its „target audience‟,
and the variety of settings and contexts in which the programme is delivered. It
would be very difficult to design structured questionnaires or interview schedules to
cater for the wide range of projects. This was one factor in motivating the decision of
the investigators to opt for a „Topic Guide‟ approach. This is based on a set of „key
issues‟ or topics which form the basis for questioning. These can be applied flexibly
and responsively in a variety of contexts, ranging from one to one interviews, to
group discussions. The Topic Guide can also be used for flexible interaction and
data gathering during events, and allows the investigator to speak to many
(sometimes all) participants in an INPUT event, including students, staff and
partners. Through the use of this technique, it was intended to cover a range of age
groups and types of project, giving a more comprehensive view of INPUT at work
than could have been achieved by other methods. Also, the Topic Guide allowed a
responsive approach by the investigators, providing sufficient flexibility to pursue any
key issues emerging during the investigation.

The Topic Guide was designed to assist recording of:
 Basic information about the specific project visited;
 Data and information relating to the issues/topics identified in the Topic Guide.

A copy of the Topic Guide is provided in Appendix 1.

          During the academic year 2004/05, investigators attended nine separate INPUT
          events in a variety of locations across England. It had been decided to limit the
          investigation to the secondary age range, although the opportunity was taken to
          attend a joint Year 6 and Year 9 event. In each case, the investigator attended the
          whole event, and used the topic guide, aiming to speak to as many participants as
          possible. The events covered are summarised in Table 1, below.

        Table 1: INPUT events attended by CEI investigators
  Location    Year       Number of     Number and       Type of project              Staffing/partners
              Groups    participants      type of                                        attending
Derby         Year 7   21 Yr 7        One             Structures, Design           9 visiting teachers
(School                students + 7   Comprehensive,  and build                    and 3 engineering
                                      mixed gender,
venue)                 visiting                        Shelter                    ambassadors (for
                                      multi ethnic
                       teachers from group involved    London Eye                 professional
                       neighbouring                                                development)
                       school, and 2                  Also set up as a
                       teachers from                  teacher                      2 SETPOINT staff
                       Chesterfield                   development
                                                      session                      INPUT director and
                                                                                   regular engineer
                                                             2.5 hour event        support

Leicester       Year 12    70 students      5 schools,       Design build and      2 Royal Navy
(School                    Physics AS                        test amphibious       Engineers (one male,
venue)                     level            (4 State,14-18   vehicle to collect    one female)
                           (65 male         comprehensive    debris from surface
                            5 female)       community,       of water              6 teachers
                                            foundation                             (Science/Phsysics)
                           (30 ethnic                        Students working in
                           minority)        1 6th Form       groups of 6           SETPOINT staff
                                                             Full day event        INPUT director and
                                                                                   regular engineer
Rugby           Year 9     12 Year 12       2 Schools        Engineering           Event run and staffed
(School         and        students                          Challenge day, run    without INPUT staff –
venue)          Year12                      (1               by local SETPOINT     (follows previous
                           41 Year 9        Independent      Focus on              events run with
                           students                          „Renewable            INPUT)
                                            1 state          Energy‟
                           Majority male,   selective boys                         5 teachers (including
                           white (one       grammar          3 Challenges in the   science and
                           school is boys   school)          day:                  engineering)
                           only)                             1. Build wind
                                                             turbine/generator     1 student teacher
                           Working in                        2. Build a            (design and
                           teams of 4,                       transmission tower    technology)
                           each with a                       3. Connect the two
                           Year 12                           Record voltage        2 EBP/SETPOINT
                           mentor                            generated and         staff as organisers
                                                             make presentation
                                                                                   one parent/ governor/
                                                             Full day event        engineer

 Location    Year       Number of       Number and        Type of project         Staffing/partners
             Groups    participants        type of                                    attending
London Eye   Teacher   23 teachers     Teachers         One of a series of       Led and delivered by
(Visitor     Event                     from 23 state    teacher                  INPUT director
centre)                (18 Primary     schools (18      professional
                                       primary and 5    development days
                       5 secondary,    secondary),      on Structures (full
                       including       from London      day)
                       design and      boroughs and
                       technology      SE counties      Using paper tubes
                       and graphics)                    to build Shelter,
                                                        Bridge and London

Cheltenham   Year 10   16 students     2 schools for    Structures – full        1 teacher (ASDAN)
(Community             from 2 SLD      students with    day event                from the community
centre                 schools (9m     severe                                    secondary
venue)                 and 7f)         learning         Rolling paper tubes
                                       difficulties     Building a shelter,      8 teachers/ learning
                       2 students                       Building a tower         support assistants
                       from Pupil      1 PRU                                     from the other
                       Referral Unit                    An important aim of      schools
                       (1m and 1f)                      this programme
                                                        was socialisation        2 EBP staff
                       9 students      1 Community      and development of
                       (7m and 2f)     Secondary        interpersonal skills.    4 local company
                       from                             Team work and            volunteers (non-
                       Community                        interaction is a vital   engineers)
                       Secondary                        experience for
                       (Alternative                     these students           INPUT director and
                       Curriculum                                                regular engineer
                       Group)                           Other aims were          support
London       Year 9    130 students    One school       Wind Turbine /           3 School staff
(School      and                       Independent      Structures - Full
venue)       Year 6    84 Year 9       Girls,           day event                Head of D&T
                       46 Year 6       selective (4 -                            Technology teacher
                                       18)              Design and build         Year 6 Tutor
                       working in                       turbine and
                       mixed groups    Above            supporting tower         Various other
                       (Yr 6&9) of 6   average                                   teachers on rotating
                                       ability          Measure weight           basis (timetable freed
                                                        lifted (power            by this event)
                                                        generated) by the
                                                        turbine (wind            INPUT director and
                                                        tunnel)                  regular engineer
                                                        Make presentations

 Location     Year      Number of       Number and      Type of project        Staffing/partners
              Groups   participants        type of                                 attending
Sheffield     Year 9   34 students     4 state        Structures – paper      This event, and the
(University            (20 male and    secondary      tubes (half day         preceding events, run
venue)                 14 female) in   schools        event)                  by ICE (Institute of
                       teams of 8 or                                          Civil Engineers)
                       9. Each was                    The „final‟ event,
                       the „winning‟                  following a             2 ICE staff
                       team from a                    preceding bridge
                       preceding                      building activity       2 Engineering
                       activity in                    held in each of the     Ambassadors
                       which 120                      4 schools.
                       students took                                          1 CITB staff
                       part                           The winning team
                                                      from each school        2 University staff,
                                                      took part in this       including Professor of
                                                      final - building a      Engineering to
                                                      London Eye              present prizes

                                                      Prize for the winner    2 LEA staff
                                                      and runner-up
                                                                              D&T teacher from
                                                      President and           each school
                                                      Director of ICE
                                                      came in to present      INPUT director and
                                                      certificate to the      colleague in
                                                      200000th INPUT          supporting role only

Derby         Year 9   About 120       One school –   INPUT offering 4        INPUT director and
(School                students        Technology     activities for whole    regular engineer
venue)                 (approx 50/50   Status         year group off-         support - provided
                       male and                       timetable day. (7       pre- briefing for team
                       female)                        other non-INPUT         of technology/science
                       opting in to                   activities available)   teachers
                       any/all of 4
                       INPUT                          About 120 students      INPUT gave initial
                       activities,                    took at least one       briefing to students
                       from a total                   INPUT activity
                       choice of 11                   from:                   4 technology/science
                       activities                     Rocket building         teachers – one to
                       (including                     Hovercraft              brief students on
                       non-                           Wind turbine            each specific activity
                       technology)                    Wind-powered car
                                                                              Other teachers on
                                                      Full day event          rotating basis,
                                                                              including Music,
                                                                              English etc

 Location        Year        Number of       Number and        Type of project       Staffing/partners
                 Groups     participants        type of                                  attending
University       Year 9    93 students      Students         INPUT provided a       10 teachers drawn
location                   (about 50/50     drawn from       2.5 hour activity as   from the participating
                           male and         32 schools       part of a 4 day        schools (from NQT to
                           female)          from across      residential            recently retired),
                                            England,         Engineering            design technology or
                           Working in       including both   Experience run by      science
                           teams of 6       state and        the Smallpeice
                                            independent      Trust                  Visiting science
                                            sector                                  teacher from
                                                             INPUT activity was     Queensland,
                                                             to design, build and   Australia
                                                             test a battery
                                                             powered robot          Smallpeice staff
                                                             vehicle to negotiate
                                                             a „course‟, collect    INPUT director and
                                                             and deliver a          regular engineer
                                                             „package‟ (bomb        support

        For each event attended, an internal CEI report was produced. This recorded basic
        information about the event, and reported findings relating to the Topic Guide. These
        reports also identified key issues, or questions for further attention in visits to
        subsequent events.

        Additional data collection:

        Additional data were collected from a number of sources, including:

            Review of sample teacher and student evaluation forms from additional INPUT
             events not visited by investigators;

            Telephone interviews (based on Topic Guide issues) with a range of INPUT
             partners. These included:

                A representative from CITB
                A representative from SETPOINT
                A representative from the Fleet Air Arm Museum
                A representative from the Institute of Structural Engineers

            Reference to relevant publications and documents.

Research Findings

The research findings are presented in two sections:

   Reporting the responses of participants and stakeholders;

   Analysis based on these responses, plus event observation, further research and
    holistic review of evidence in the current curriculum, educational, and vocational

The response of students

In total almost 550 students, ranging from year 6 to year 12 were observed taking
part in INPUT activities. This also included a wide spread of academic ability and
capability, from a few students with severe learning difficulties, to high ability

A prominent feature of INPUT events is the high level of engagement of students in
the activity. In nearly all the events visited almost all students were fully involved and
participating most of the time. All of the events required prolonged periods of team
work. Team work activities can develop into situations where one or two students
are fully engaged, whilst the rest show low levels of participation, or engage in other
irrelevant „activities‟. However, the majority of the teams observed in INPUT
programmes did not separate in this way, with most students making useful
contributions throughout the session. In those few cases where students were not
mainly „on task‟, this appeared to be due to two main factors, which are sometimes

   The time allowed for a particular task may be slightly too long. This situation can
    result in loss of interest towards the end of the session, even though there may
    have been very good work done beforehand;

   The level of the challenge may not be right for the students involved. In one
    event, a very able group of students found the task insufficiently challenging and
    became bored.

Careful planning of the time allowed for tasks, and ensuring that the challenge will
stretch the students involved, could reduce the risk of loss of motivation.

As stated, however, a large majority of students were fully engaged in the INPUT
activities. In fact, as reported by teachers on several occasions, the activities have
the capacity to engage students who find it difficult to concentrate in traditional
classroom settings. Students reported a range of factors which motivated them in
these activities. The factors mentioned most frequently were:

   They find the activity enjoyable;

   They like doing practical work and making things;

   They like working in teams;

   It is not like „normal school‟. They respond to a different learning style, where
    they have to make more decisions and take more responsibility for outcomes.
    Also they like the different relationship with staff;

   They enjoyed working with other schools or other groups of students, where this

The requirement of these projects to produce tangible results by the end of the
session appears to be a motivating factor, keeping students on task. Where the
timing and the nature of the challenge is pitched appropriately, students were aware
of the pressure of working to a deadline, and valued this experience. The
motivational effect can apply at all levels. For example, AS level students working on
the construction of an amphibious vehicle found the task „more challenging than
expected‟ but „enjoyable‟. They „had to work under pressure‟. In an entirely different
situation, one student with severe learning difficulties, known for his short attention
span was asked by his teacher if he would like a drink. The teacher was impressed
by his reply:

“No thanks. I‟m too busy”

The students‟ responses to questions about what they thought they were learning fell
into two main categories. Firstly, most students readily identified key or generic
skills, such as team working, communication, making decisions and solving
problems. Also some students said that they had learnt what it was like to work on a
creative project:

“anything that can go wrong, will go wrong!”

or, more positively:

“..learnt that if it doesn‟t work, you have to do it again until it does”

Some students were also able to identify elements of „subject‟ learning, such as:

“We learnt about aerodynamics”

“We learnt more about electric circuits

“We learnt the importance of good design”

Discussion with students showed a widespread lack of knowledge about the various
fields of engineering and what engineers do. The INPUT activities appear to provide
some enhancement of their knowledge and awareness of some aspects of
engineering (depending on the nature of the task).

Responses from teachers at INPUT events for students

More than 50 teachers involved in the INPUT programmes were spoken to during the
events visited. The teachers could be placed in several categories:

   Leaders/ instigators of the programme (e.g. responsible for booking INPUT), with
    previous experience of working with INPUT;

   Subject teachers (science, technology or maths) attending with groups of their

     Who have previous knowledge or experience of INPUT, and may have
      attended events before or;
     Who may be attending for the first time, and may know little about INPUT

   Subject teachers (not from science, technology or maths or related subjects)
    attending as additional support. These usually have no previous knowledge of

Amongst the projects visited were some in which key individual teachers had worked
with INPUT previously, and were motivated to run projects again. These teachers
were enthusiastic believers in the value of INPUT programmes. In one girls‟ school,
INPUT was invited in for the seventh year, by the Head of Design and Technology
(female), who had had a previous career in civil engineering. She was „passionate‟
about engineering and the importance of promoting the profession to girls. She had
found INPUT to offer excellent value in providing an enjoyable and stimulating
experience in engineering, which enhanced their work in design and technology.
She was „realistic‟ about how much influence such events could have on the career
aspirations of the high ability girls in this school. The students were subject to a
range of other, more powerful influences, including parents, whose expectations
were for the girls to enter other professions, usually law, medicine or finance.
However, the Head of Design and Technology was able to refer to a small number of
girls who had gone into engineering, and she believed that INPUT programmes were
well worth while for all.

In another school using INPUT for the second time, the Technology College Co-
ordinator had used his experience to „cherry-pick‟ activities which were most
appropriate for their use, and discussed these with the INPUT director beforehand.
This teacher believes that the INPUT programmes he uses are very valuable. He
feels the:

“quality of learning is excellent in the wind turbines project, with the need to achieve
symmetry and balance to achieve efficiency”


“INPUT acts as a catalyst – stimulating learning. However, learning outcomes need
time to draw out …. Would like to see the day structured to include an hour to draw
out the key learning points.

He also feels that the approach and style adopted by the INPUT director is a key
element in the success of the programme:

“I like the way he does not labour the scientific principles at the beginning, but gets
them going and doing things. They haven‟t been taught, they‟ve discovered. We
will definitely want him back”

The sample of INPUT programmes visited by the investigators was found to include a
number of other schools who were „repeat customers‟. Teachers from these schools
had found INPUT programmes to be interesting, enjoyable and motivating for their
students, and were satisfied that worthwhile learning outcomes were achieved.
Several teachers valued the fact that these events were “not like normal school”.
One teacher said that the National Curriculum did not encourage this type of work,
and INPUT gave the students a different kind of experience which was very valuable.

A Year 7 teacher who was very impressed with how well his group worked on a
construction project said:

“I would like to do this again next week - OFSTED are coming in”

A Year 12 teacher was also impressed:

“They are getting more out of today (engineering) than in two or three years in

Several teachers said that they valued a change in their role, to become more like
„facilitators‟ and to have more time to observe their students at work. There were
examples where the activity allowed different students to „shine‟, e.g. displaying
previously unrecognised practical skills or creative problem solving. There was an
opportunity to review and reflect how we judge students‟ capability and potential.

Another teacher welcomed the opportunity to observe how different students
responded and worked together. The project provided a real opportunity for students
with different „abilities‟ (intellectual, practical etc.) to contribute. One team was

“very practical, using an engineering, team based approach”

while another team was:

“not quite as practical, was more individualistic and conceptual. The first team was
more focused on getting things done”

Of the teachers involved with INPUT for the first time, there were a few individuals
who appeared to be unsure what it was all about, and what their role should be. This
situation appeared to arise sometimes when the event was set up through an agency
(e.g. EBP or SETPOINT). Some teachers were „sent‟ by their school to accompany
groups of participating students. Most teachers, however, even if unfamiliar with
INPUT soon adopted an appropriate facilitating role.

Responses of teachers attending an INPUT professional development day

An investigator visited one of the teacher professional development days held at the
London Eye. This event was attended by 23 teachers (18 primary and 5 secondary),
and the session was led by the INPUT director. The topic was „Structures‟, making
and using paper tubes to design and build a tower, a shelter, a bridge and a „London
Eye‟. The day concluded with a ride on the real London Eye. During the session
teachers worked in mixed teams from primary and secondary sectors, ranging from
reception to Year 11. The day was organised by an EBP, and it was reported that
these teacher professional development sessions are very popular and significantly
oversubscribed. Several of the teachers present had applied before, but been
unable to get a place on the course until this occasion.

The session was received with great enthusiasm by all the participants, who found it
both enjoyable and of high professional value. A summary of the responses
suggested that:

   For many teachers, one of the best features of the day was the highly practical,
    „hands-on‟ nature of the activities;

   There was surprise at the basic simplicity of building with paper tubes (yet
    challenging in terms of design and problem solving). The activities are based on
    simple materials, which are easy to use, and remarkably strong. Teachers were

   Teachers valued the opportunity to do practical work in teams. This appears to
    contrast with „typical‟ professional development;

   This event is unusual in bringing primary and secondary teachers together to
    work on the same task. They enjoyed this approach, and welcomed the
    opportunity. It worked well;

   Primary teachers could easily identify numerous curriculum opportunities in which
    this approach could be used:

       D&T, Science - Forces and Structures
       Shelters, Fairgrounds, Bridges, Building
       Maths
       Literacy (following instructions)
       “Very few subjects it couldn‟t be incorporated in – even History – of the
        London Eye”;

   Some primary teachers stated that it was good for building knowledge and
    confidence in areas of curriculum in which they felt unsure (notably
    Physics/forces) - “Grateful for the revision on tension/compression in structures”;

   Secondary teachers also had no difficulty in finding areas of curriculum
    relevance, in Design and Technology, and KS3 Science (Structures);

   The project provided useful options for modifying school approaches to Design
    and Technology (“Incorporate into our present programme. It would work out
    cheaper than using MDF to build our bridges!”;)

   One secondary teacher said that it was “Great for GCSE Manufacturing”, and had
    strong links with engineering;

   Another secondary Design and Technology teacher had a clear view of a
    progression strategy using this type of activity. His aim was to introduce this to
    feeder primary schools, working with Years 5 and 6, and their teachers, to
    introduce „structures‟, whilst also contributing towards primary/secondary
    transition. This work would be further developed in Key Stage 3 and 4, and could
    help to improve performance in GCSE Design and Technology. This teacher
    expressed concern that the GCSE required students to design and make objects,
    but that they currently “have no idea about structures”. The result is that their
    designs are often poor, and sometimes fail to perform due to lack of knowledge
    and understanding of basic structures. This teacher had a clear view of
     Capture students‟ interest in Years 5/6
     Facilitate learning about structures in Key Stage 3
     Improve recruitment into related subjects at Key Stage 4
     Better GCSE performance in Design and Technology, and other related
     More people interested in progressing further with engineering.

   Teachers felt that the technique offers opportunity at every level, including
    (primary special needs). The basic technique is simple and can be carried out by
    most individuals. The balance of „guidance‟ against finding one‟s own solutions
    can be varied according to the ability of the group;

   A high proportion of participants expressed strong motivation to implement this
    type of activity back at school;

   The view was expressed that all schools should have „kits‟ for this type of activity;

   Several participants indicated their intention to run this type of activity in staff
    development sessions, with the aim of introducing the technique, and
    encouraging other staff to become involved.

The evaluations completed by teachers at the end of the day reflected the success of
this professional development. When asked to judge the day overall, of 20 returns,
15 rated the course „excellent‟ and 5 rated it „very good‟, on a four point scale
(excellent, very good, satisfactory, poor).

There were a few suggestions for improvement. Two teachers suggested the
programme could work just as well, with one less paper tube construction activity.
Another teacher suggested changing the teams around for the different structures.
(Some teams did demonstrate higher levels of skill at this type of activity).

Additional comments on the evaluations included:

A primary teacher said:

“It‟s been a fabulous experience, working in a team, and building structures together”

A secondary teacher said:

“Thank you. A really great day, with fantastic potential outcomes for students”

INPUT provided sets of evaluations from three other teacher development sessions
on request, and these gave very similar results. There have also been a number of
cases in which teachers who have attended the training have called INPUT in to run
further training or events in their schools or LEAs

Response from a visiting teacher from Queensland, Australia

At one of the events attended by the investigator, there was a visiting science
teacher from Queensland, Australia. Her response to INPUT was enthusiastic, and
she had already placed an order for a set of INPUT project books in order to take
some of the activities back to schools in Queensland, where she was not aware of
anything similar. She had been impressed by the project work she had seen, and
was also interested in the „enterprise‟ dimension developing in English schools. Her
view of the English curriculum was that it was very „knowledge based‟, and that
INPUT made a valuable contribution by attaching value to the „process‟. This should
work well in Queensland, where the curriculum is more process based.

Responses from Partners

INPUT works with a range of partners who provide support and assistance. This
ranges from expert technical and subject support (e.g. from engineers or people with
knowledge and skills in science, technology and mathematics) to administrative and
management support (e.g. in recruiting participants, organising venues and making
other arrangements). Key partners include:

   Engineers, some of whom act in an independent capacity, and some through
    partner organisations (e.g. CITB, Royal Navy). These provide expert technical
    and subject support and also provide careers information relevant to engineering;

   A number of SETPOINTS, who provide administrative and management support,
    as well as technical and subject support. The SETNET annual reports show the
    numbers of SETPOINTS which work directly with INPUT. In 2003-04, six
    SETPOINTS worked with INPUT on primary school projects, and eight on
    secondary school projects. These partnerships sometimes generate a
    substantial amount of INPUT activity. For example, the Staffordshire SETPOINT
    has worked in partnership with INPUT since 2003, and is now confident in
    running INPUT programmes itself. INPUT has provided some funding to help this
    SETPOINT maintain and develop these programmes;

   Some Education Business Partnerships (EBPs) work with INPUT, usually
    adopting a non-specialist administrative and management role, in recruiting
    participants and organising venues. INPUT helps EBPs to meet their objectives
    in terms of offering programmes to schools, and in responding to requests from
    schools for projects with a science, technology or engineering focus;

   The Smallpeice Trust. INPUT is a regular contributor to events and programmes
    organised by the Smallpeice Trust, providing engineering and technology
    experiences for young people;

   Teachers in, and from schools participating in INPUT programmes are also
    important partners. In most cases, the teachers involved are subject specialists
    from science, and technology areas of the curriculum.

As part of this investigation, partners directly involved in events attended by the
evaluators were surveyed, using the topic guide questions. This included engineers
from the Royal Navy and representative from the Smallpeice Trust. In addition,
telephone interviews were carried out with representatives from the CITB, the Fleet
Air Arm Museum, the Institute of Structural Engineers, and Staffordshire SETPOINT.

Response from CITB representative

CITB has funded a substantial number of INPUT sessions for students and teachers,
including 20 teacher professional development workshops for 400 teachers at the
London Eye. The CITB representative interviewed had worked closely with INPUT,
and had attended many sessions personally. The response from this partner was
very positive, including the following key points:

   Feedback from teachers at professional development sessions has been

   There has been demand for other INPUT sessions for students as a result of the
    professional development days. The INPUT Director had been invited to run
    sessions in a number of schools e.g. in Oxfordshire. Very good feedback had
    been received from the participating schools. One activity was for students to
    design their own „Eden Project (structure and plan). Responses had been very
    positive “Schools absolutely love it”;

   There was a big waiting list of schools wishing take up INPUT programmes;

   The respondent had been directly involved in programmes for Key Stages 3 and

   The respondent‟s observation of students at INPUT events indicated high levels
    of motivation (almost 100% engagement). The students work well and „go away

   The respondent reported that CITB has worked so extensively with INPUT
    because the approach, style and delivery by the INPUT Director is of such good
    (superior) quality;

   The respondent recognised the value of INPUT programmes for the development
    of enterprise capability, given the current Government emphasis on enterprise
    education. “We have tweaked everything to include enterprise”;

   INPUT was able to attract funding support from some other sources e.g. two
    events in Berkshire had been funded by the local LSC, using money from work-
    related learning budgets;

   The respondent is hoping to continue work with INPUT, and already has a range
    of confirmed dates in the diary for future CITB funded programmes;

   With regard to future development and improvement, the respondent felt it was
    important to create some new activities in construction. Opportunities should be
    exploited to bring in new activities. For example, during National Construction
    Week, a project was set up to build models of the „Wembley Arch‟, based on the
    construction at the new Wembley Stadium. This worked well, and INPUT should
    aim to develop more new ideas like this.

Overall this respondent was “Extremely pleased with how this had gone”

Response from Fleet Air Arm Museum representative

The respondent has a specific role in providing education and learning in services to
visitors, and the link with INPUT was already established when the respondent took
up this role. The respondent had found the link with INPUT to be very valuable.

Some of the key points raised included:

   In the early phase, the INPUT Director had run programmes for groups from
    schools, personally, at the museum. These were successful, and the respondent
    was keen to see further development;

   Programmes included the use of wind tunnels, design of propellers (pitch, shape
    of blades etc);

   INPUT was a „vital primer‟ for the development of these types of activities in the

   Working with INPUT provided a development opportunity for the museum‟s own
    engineers, giving them something to „get started with‟ and helping to grow their
    confidence in working with young people on these types of activities;

   The engineers helped to develop some further „in-house‟ activities for use in the
    museum. These include some work on structures (designing aircraft
    undercarriage), floating buoys, turbine driven buggies, and parachute activities;

   The respondent has found that these activities provide a very effective teaching
    and learning approach for engineering. Students can engage directly with key
    engineering principles, with the added benefit that the location provides real
    examples on site. The respondent values the „kinaesthetic‟ nature of INPUT style
    learning. This contrasts with the emphasis on different learning styles in school;

   A wide ability range of students can take part, across range of science and
    technology related subjects, including GCSEs in vocational subjects such as
    manufacturing and engineering;

   The respondent had found teachers to be very positive about the activities
    offered. Teachers seemed pleased with:

     The variety and „richness‟ of experience provided

     The contribution of the volunteer engineers, with their specialist, practical

     The opportunity to play a supporting, facilitating role, rather than always being
      the „leader‟

     The teamwork aspects of the work

     The way the activities could help influence the attitudes of students by
      showing them real applications of theory they were learning in school (one
      group of year 12 girls taking part in an Engineering Challenge day was
      reported by their teacher as having completely changed their view of what
      they were learning in school. The change was positive and motivational in
      that they could now see the point of what they were learning, by having seen
      real applications);

     The respondent also reported that teachers could see curriculum relevance in
      the activities, and found the overlap between subjects (science, engineering,
      technology) „refreshing‟. However, this overlap could, in some cases, be
      problematic back in school. The respondent cited an example where a
      design and technology teacher who attended a programme went to the
      science department back in school to propose a joint project, but received a
      negative response;

     The partnership with INPUT had reached a stage where the INPUT Director
      no longer comes into the museum to run the „standard‟ sessions. These are
      provided by the museums own staff and engineers. However, it is intended

       that INPUT will still be involved in running special events and activities e.g. an
       engineering challenge day for Year 12. Also INPUT would be paid to run
       programmes for Year 10 students, using funding from Aim Higher.

Response from Institute of Structural Engineers representative

A telephone interview with the respondent provided the following information:

   The Institute of Structural Engineers had recently started to work with INPUT,
    following an approach from the INPUT Director;

   The Institute had funded a London Eye teacher professional development
    session, and the respondent had attended. The respondent‟s view of the
    programme was that it was „excellent‟;

   The respondent was very positive about future potential links with INPUT.

Response from Smallpeice Trust representative

An opportunity to survey the views of a Smallpeice Trust representative was provided
by attendance at part of a residential Engineering Experience for year 10 students.
The Smallpeice Trust representative felt that INPUT provided good value for money
and a good learning experience for participating students. The style and approach of
the INPUT Director was a significant positive feature, both in ensuring that the activity
runs well, and also, as a partner, in showing flexibility and willingness to adapt and
modify the INPUT programme according to the needs of the client. The respondent
believed that it would be a significant loss if INPUT programmes were to cease to be

Responses from Royal Navy engineers

At one event attended by an investigator, two Royal Navy engineers (one male, and
one female) played a leading role in the programme alongside the INPUT Director
and his regular supporting engineer. Feedback from the RN engineers included the
following points:

   The female graduate engineer was in her second year of participation in this
    programme, and was involved in about ten Royal Navy Challenge events per

   The main motivations for the Royal Navy are:
     To encourage young people to consider engineering as a career in general
     To encourage recruitment to the Royal Navy

   There appears to be no real way to quantify „success‟ in either purpose. The
    Royal Navy does not match recruitment data against attendance at Royal Navy
    challenge events;

   The Royal Navy perceives significant benefit in working with INPUT and partners.
    In comparison with „blanket‟ presentations to young people, the INPUT event
    ensures a selected and appropriate audience, who are realistic candidates for
    recruitment (interested and capable in maths, science, physics);

   The project has been modified over time, in response to (informal) evaluation.
    Activities had been selected from the „book‟ of options built up by INPUT.
    Previous projects (e.g. design and make a device to capture and raise a
    submerged object). The current project was considered to be an improvement,
    with relevance to environmental concerns.

Responses from SETPOINTS and EBPs

Those SETPOINTS and EBPs that do work with INPUT tend to show a high level of
satisfaction with the programme and to form lasting partnerships extending over a
number of years. For example, the SETPOINT working with INPUT at the Royal
Navy Challenge attended by an investigator was running this for the 5th consecutive
year. The SETPOINT had found these events to be popular with schools, and were
often over-subscribed. Most participating schools had sent groups of students in
previous years, indicating that they valued the INPUT experience offered. A second
event, within the same month, was being offered to schools in the area;

Another SETPOINT representative who had worked with INPUT since 2003 provided
a telephone interview. After initial contact with INPUT, followed by a series of
meetings which established that INPUT‟s philosophy and approach were fully in
harmony with the SETPOINT‟s work, the INPUT National Director had run a
programme with the SETPOINT. The RAF was also a partner. Once the relationship
had become established, the SETPOINT now runs its own INPUT programmes, and
has a 3 year, funded, agreement with INPUT to offer programmes to a target number
of students. This SETPOINT gave very positive feedback about INPUT, including the
following points:

   The style and approach fits well with the needs of SETPOINT and the LEAs in
    the region;

   INPUT is very cost effective. It offers opportunities to large numbers of students,
    but uses inexpensive, simple resources (unlike some other projects);

   These activities fit well with the curriculum, and are motivational;

   Primary school teachers like these projects, because they are inexpensive, easy
    to replicate and do not require highly specialised knowledge;

   Secondary school teachers also provide positive feedback. The SETPOINT had
    produced support materials to help teachers identify the key science and
    technology principles in the activities.

The SETPOINT had found INPUT to be a stimulus for the development of further
activities. For example, in a primary school project, a paper tube tower construction
project was linked with electricity generation (using Lego), to create model pylons
and power lines supplying some cardboard houses at the other end of the hall.
When the generator was operated, the light in the houses came on.

The SETPOINT director was totally convinced of the value of these projects.

“These programmes are pivotal and absolutely essential for enhancing the

He said that the reason this was so important was because schools had “backed off”
doing this kind of work themselves, and LEA advisors had almost disappeared.
Therefore, without projects like INPUT, young people would not be getting this type
of experience, and the development of science, technology and engineering would

In relation to funding for INPUT, his view was that a loss of core funding “would be

An EBP representative at one of the events attended by an investigator had worked
with INPUT on a number of previous occasions, both at primary and at sixth form
level. This respondent had found INPUT activities to work well at all levels, even
using the same basic activity. The activities were cheap, easy to run and convenient.
The respondent had found INPUT, through the INPUT Director flexible,
accommodating and good to work with. The one area of weakness suggested by the
respondent was in the de-briefing and follow-up to reinforce learning outcomes. This
point could be addressed by greater involvement and responsibility of teachers,
including time outside the INPUT session itself. The respondent felt there was an
important need for further teacher professional development to achieve this, but was
doubtful whether many schools would give this high priority, given the general
difficulty in getting teachers out for professional development, and school managers‟
views of professional development priorities.

Analysis of findings

The INPUT Programme - Success Factors

   Longevity and survival: The INPUT programme has been running continuously
    since 1986, and whilst changes have occurred in the nature of the events, from
    residentials to one-day and shorter programmes, many of the activities are tried
    and tested and have been used for many years. The fundamental aims, to raise
    awareness about science technology and engineering, and to promote learning
    and skills relevant to these areas, remain prominent.

   Level of demand: INPUT has maintained a high level of activity throughout its
    life. The demand for INPUT programmes would not have been sustained unless
    it was meeting the needs of its client groups. SETNET publishes figures in its
    annual reports showing the uptake of national STEM (science, technology,
    engineering and maths) schemes. INPUT has maintained a high position in the
    reported figures for both primary and secondary uptake. Table 2 shows the
    figures for INPUT for the years 2002-4

Table 2

    Year         Primary or      Number of          Ranking          Number of
                 secondary        national         position of        students
                                 Schemes              INPUT        participating in
                                working with      (in terms of          INPUT
                                SETPOINTS         numbers of
                                 (listed by       participating
                                  SETNET)           students)
2002 - 2003     Primary               55               10th              3269

2002 - 2003     Secondary             61               7th               5572

2003 – 2004     Primary               21               5th               4772

2003 - 2004     Secondary             42               5th               6991

(Source SETNET – SETPOINT Effectiveness Surveys 2002 – 03 and 2003 – 04)

INPUT has maintained or improved its position during a period when concerns have
been expressed about the plethora of schemes available. The period since 2002 has
seen significant reduction in the numbers of schemes being used by SETPOINTS.
INPUT, however, has continued to be a major provider. During 2005, INPUT
celebrated its 200,000th participating student.

The position of INPUT in the overall provision of STEM activities is remarkable when
one considers that the national programme operates with very low staffing levels,
based on the National Director,, one retired engineer who provides support at many
of the events, plus minimal administrative support, Some support comes from
partners on specific programmes (e.g. some SETPOINTS, some EBPs, Royal Navy).
Also, some local programmes are run by long term associates or founders of the
INPUT project. In this context, the contribution of the INPUT National Director has
been outstanding. Over a period of 14 years he has personally run more than 650
events, and a number of teachers and partners have reported that his delivery and
style have been a major factor in the popularity and success of INPUT. The regular

contribution of one retired engineer, working alongside the Director has also been a
valuable and vital asset in these programmes.

Longevity and numbers of participants alone, are not complete indicators of the
success of INPUT in terms of meeting its stated objectives. The evidence from this,
and previous work (National Centre for Social Research (2001)) indicates a number
of positive features:

   Positive feedback from students: INPUT programmes are enjoyable,
    stimulating and motivating for students across a wide range of ages and abilities.
    This must be a pre-requisite for any programme seeking to attract young people
    towards science, technology and engineering. INPUT is successful in this.

   Contribution to development of generic and key skills: INPUT programmes
    provide opportunities for students to work together in teams on creative, problem-
    based projects on science, technology and engineering. Other skills and qualities
    are regularly demonstrated e.g. communication, showing initiative and
    determination, leadership, decision making, and perseverance. Students and
    teachers show a high level of awareness of this learning, and its importance. At
    its best, this can be genuinely challenging, and rewarding for students, and has
    potential to attract some towards further work or careers in this area. It will
    always be a question of judgement about what level to „pitch‟ the project at, and
    in this, schools, knowing their students, have a vital role which they do not always
    fulfil. The end result may sometimes be a project which is not as creative or
    challenging as it should be. On the other hand, it is equally important not to set a
    task so that it is beyond the group of students concerned. However, the large
    majority of projects observed in this investigation provided an appropriate level of

   Contribution to learning in science, technology, and engineering: INPUT
    programmes provide important learning opportunities in various areas of science,
    technology, mathematics and engineering, depending on the nature of the
    project. In different projects, students may learn about designing and testing,
    prototypes, structures, strength, stability, forces, friction, levers, ratios,
    aerodynamics, electronics, electrical circuits, gears, hydraulics, and pneumatics.
    By introducing other considerations e.g. cost of materials, activities can be
    enhanced to include learning about efficiency, cost effectiveness and business
    dimensions. However, the extent to which these learning opportunities are
    capitalised upon does seem to vary. INPUT normally offers a de-briefing at the
    end of an activity to draw out the key learning points. Given the nature of INPUT
    activities (lively, „buzzing‟ energetic, full of movement, and quite tiring), the de-
    brief tends to be quick, and can only make two or three key points. It must be
    then left to the school to reinforce the learning, and this may not happen
    consistently. Observation and discussion with teachers at INPUT events
    suggested that in some cases they had not really thought ahead about the
    subject learning they wanted the students to achieve.

   Relating learning to ‘real-life’ practice in science, technology and
    engineering: INPUT provides good opportunities for students to learn how
    scientific, technological and engineering principles are applied to „real-life‟
    situations. Curriculum coverage in school can lead to a rather detached,
    compartmentalised and academic view of these subjects. INPUT events can
    bring these to life, increasing the chances that students will become interested
    and excited by the subject, and could influence future choices for further study

    and careers. This effect is likely to be most marked where INPUT courses take
    place in settings where students can experience real examples (e.g. Fleet Air
    Arm Museum).

   Providing opportunities for different learning styles: INPUT programmes
    provide excellent examples of kinaesthetic learning, being based on practical
    „hands-on‟ activities. It is evident from the reactions of students and teachers
    that this contrasts with the dominant teaching and learning style in school, and is
    welcomed by virtually all participants. It also often allows a different type of
    student to emerge as „capable‟, with benefits for their confidence and self-
    esteem. Also the discovery of something they are „good at‟, may influence future
    choices towards engineering.

   Perceived as valuable by teachers: Teachers recognise that INPUT
    programmes provide learning experiences which contrast with routine school
    work. The programmes are seen to add value in both subject learning (especially
    design and technology and science), and in generic and key skills. The different
    learning style, different arrangements and relationships, and, usually, different
    environment, all serve to make these sessions „special‟ and to add motivation.
    Teachers who have been involved previously confirm that INPUT events are
    „memorable‟ for students, in that they will have specific recall of the event months
    or years later. Of course, their memories could include any element of the event
    irrespective of relevance to science technology and engineering. However, the
    memorable nature of the events does enhance the likelihood that key subject
    principles will be retained. Teachers with extended experience of INPUT believe
    that students do retain some key concepts. One teacher referred specifically to a
    group of students who recalled important learning about aerodynamics from an
    INPUT event they took part in over a year previously.

   Providing excellent professional development for teachers: One of the
    major successes for INPUT has been in teacher professional development e.g.
    sessions on „structures‟ held at the London Eye. Many of these events have
    taken place in recent years (15 in 2004-05). The Construction Industry Training
    Board has been an important sponsor and supporter of teacher development
    sessions, including a series of 20 days at the London Eye for over 400 teachers
    from primary and secondary schools. There is strong evidence that the teachers
    find these courses very valuable, giving them good ideas for interesting, relevant,
    and cost effective projects to run with their students, covering a range of
    curriculum needs, notably in science, technology and engineering. There is also
    strong evidence that these teacher development courses lead to further
    development which can spread within and between schools. The INPUT National
    Director and a CITB partner both report a number of examples, where teachers
    attending one of these courses led to further INPUT activity back in school and in
    the LEA. For example, the CITB partner reported that very positive feedback had
    come from schools in Oxfordshire (“Schools absolutely love it”), where the
    INPUT National Director had been invited in for further projects, including
    designing their own „Eden‟ (based on the Eden Project structure in Cornwall).
    There is also evidence that schools do develop the confidence to take this
    forward themselves. For example, one school in Lincoln, where the INPUT
    Director had run a programme previously, has been setting up its own INPUT
    days independently.

   Contribution of partners: INPUT projects often involve contributions from
    partners. These may be engineers or representatives of companies and

    organisations such as SETPOINTs and EBPs. Where these partners are well
    briefed, and have appropriate skills and attitudes in dealing with young people, in
    addition to their specialist knowledge, they make a very positive contribution.
    They can provide experience for the students i.e. an opportunity to meet other
    adults, who may be seen as role models, working in or with engineering. One
    engineer works with the INPUT National Director on a regular basis. He makes a
    major contribution to the project and his support is invaluable.

    (The importance of briefing, and appropriate skills and attitudes must be
    emphasised. Two examples were cited by respondents, in which individual
    engineers (neither of whom were official representatives of any professional
    body) displayed a style or attitude which was inappropriate in terms of a lack of
    empathy and understanding about young people and education, combined with
    some degree of professional arrogance. This included a tendency to criticise
    excessively, and to interfere too much in the students‟ own efforts to solve the
    problem in question. The effect of such involvement was strongly counter-

   Providing opportunities for ‘Enterprise Education’: The teaching and
    learning style adopted in INPUT projects is well suited to „enterprise education‟,
    and so is very relevant for the current drive to promote and improve enterprise
    education across the curriculum. A central part of enterprise education is the
    development of enterprise capabilities. These include many generic and key
    skills developed in INPUT events e.g. taking responsibility, showing initiative,
    making decisions, problem solving, working in teams. This may offer an
    opportunity to raise the profile of INPUT events by enhancing some aspects (e.g.
    the use of costings, reference to efficiency, including economic aspects). This is
    already done in some projects, and the contribution of science technology and
    engineering to enterprise education could be a „selling point‟ for INPUT, without
    the need to weaken its main objectives. The link with enterprise education was
    quickly identified by one science teacher at his first INPUT event (attended due to
    illness of the Design and Technology teacher). He also happened to be the
    enterprise co-ordinator for his school. He said that the INPUT event (design,
    build and test a robot buggy) was:

    “The best example of enterprise education I have seen, without being called
    enterprise education”

    It is worthy of note that the official video of Enterprise Week 2004, produced for
    the DfES, clearly shows a number of INPUT activities as part of the background
    footage, although these are not named or identified.

The INPUT programme - Inhibiting Factors

The analysis of the findings also attempts to identify those factors which may inhibit
or impede the achievement of INPUT‟s stated objectives. The key inhibiting factors
identified included:

   Possible ‘loss of focus’ on key STEM objectives: One of the characteristic
    features of INPUT is its flexibility in offering provision to a wide range of ages and
    abilities. The strength of this feature is that it offers the opportunity to promote
    learning about science, engineering and technology to a wide target group.
    However, this „breadth‟ of appeal may sometimes lead to a loss of focus on
    INPUT objectives, especially where teachers from participating schools may not

    have focused on the same objectives. The development of teamwork,
    communication and (general) problem solving skills are prominent in all INPUT
    programmes. Whilst these are important and valuable, there is a danger that
    learning about important science, technology and engineering principles get
    relegated to a secondary position. The role of the teachers in preparation, and
    follow-up is of great importance in defining and reinforcing learning outcomes. In
    some cases, the teachers‟ role seems rather weak in this area. If teachers are
    not absolutely clear about what the students should be learning, then the
    students will not learn as effectively.

   Limitations on preparation, briefing and de-briefing: INPUT programmes,
    delivered by the INPUT national team, or other providers external to the schools
    (e.g. SETPOINTs, EBPs), tend to be intensive half-day or full day sessions,
    where teachers play a supporting role. This imposes time pressures, limiting the
    capacity for detailed briefing and de-briefing. INPUT programmes observed did
    include briefing and de-briefing in the programme, but there is scope to reinforce
    this. This would require a bigger role for the teachers, both in advance of the
    event (helping to emphasise the objectives of the programme), and in the days
    and weeks after the programme to maximise relevant learning outcomes. At
    present, the teachers‟ role sometimes appears more „passive‟, and the quality of
    preparation and follow-up appears to be patchy. There are examples where this
    issue is recognised. In one event, a meeting of the team of teachers immediately
    after the event proposed an amended structure for the programme in future to
    include a more formal initial preparation, plus a timetabled „sit down‟ debrief
    session. These elements would be run by the teachers, allowing INPUT „guests‟
    to focus on the practical activities.

   Constraints of the secondary curriculum: Given the longevity of the INPUT
    programme and the continuing demand for the activities, one might expect this
    type of work to have become „mainstream‟ within the curriculum. However,
    INPUT, like other similar programmes, still appears to be somewhat peripheral to
    the curriculum, valued by the schools that take up the programme, although
    these remain a minority. One of INPUT‟s stated aims was to present “a unified
    view of science and engineering, drawing on, and applying knowledge and skills
    in mathematics, science and technology”. However, the secondary curriculum
    is not currently constructed to facilitate such a “unified view”. Teachers have
    specific subject responsibilities focusing on particular subject specifications, and
    may find it problematic to fully integrate a project spanning several curriculum
    areas into their own teaching programme. This logically requires some cross-
    curricular planning which is not typical of most secondary schools. An example
    was cited previously (p20) in which a design and technology teacher met with a
    negative response when trying to establish a joint project with the science

    The real applications of science, technology and mathematics in engineering are
    based on the unified view proposed by INPUT. However, in this investigation, it
    is suggested that the subject based secondary curriculum has formed a
    significant barrier to the achievement of this aim, and thereby to the promotion
    and understanding of engineering amongst young people and their teachers. It is
    interesting, though perhaps unsurprising, to note that teachers in primary schools
    do not seem to face this problem, since they usually teach across the curriculum,
    and can present a more holistic view of topics. There is a real danger that initial
    good work done in the primary school is undone by the rigid subject divisions of
    the secondary curriculum.

    The Roberts Review („SET for Success‟ 2002) also identified this problem in the
    secondary curriculum:

    “there are insufficient links made between issues covered in science and those
    covered in mathematics, ICT, and Design and Technology (in particular), which
    make it more difficult for the pupil to see the close connections between these
    subjects, both in terms of further study and future careers”

    (Roberts, G,( 2002) „SET for Success – The Supply of People with science,
    technology, engineering and mathematics skills)

A recent analysis of STEM activities has focused on the activities themselves,
without really addressing the nature of the school curriculum. The report of the
Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths Mapping Review, (Higher Education
Directorate, 2004), recommended “better coherence and co-ordination” of STEM
programmes and that Government should “lead the way in taking forward a holistic
view on policy and strategy development in STEM”. The report also recommended
that Government should encourage “better joined up planning in relation to future
programmes and initiatives.

   The influence of key education agencies: The constraint, described above,
    imposed by the organisation of the secondary school curriculum has a number of
    powerful consequences which tend to magnify its effect. The Qualifications and
    Curriculum Authority (QCA) issues guidance on subject specifications based on
    the subject divisions defined by the curriculum. The Awarding Bodies produce
    detailed separate subject specifications (e.g. GCSE, AS and A level) based on
    this guidance. Any connections between subjects seem to be weak. OFSTED
    inspects schools on the quality of their delivery of the curriculum, based mainly
    on the judgements of separate subject inspectors. The DfES gathers, publishes,
    and ranks data based on school performance in the separate subjects. Taken
    together, these factors constitute a powerful influence focusing secondary
    teachers tightly on their own individual specialist subject. It is hard to perceive
    much incentive for a „unified approach‟. INPUT has been operating within this
    unfavourable context since its inception.

   Teacher professional development: There appears to be considerable
    variation in the level of involvement of teachers in the students‟ learning
    experience through INPUT. Where secondary subject specialist teachers (e.g.
    design and technology or science teachers) are involved, their knowledge is
    clearly a valuable asset. However, in some examples observed, it is apparent
    that teachers find their „facilitating‟ role unfamiliar, and they may not be fully
    capitalising on the learning opportunities presented by the INPUT activities.
    Those teachers who have been involved in INPUT events previously are,
    unsurprisingly, better equipped to add value to the learning activities. The fact
    that many teachers have not had professional development opportunities which
    prepare them for INPUT or similar project based programmes is likely to have
    several inhibiting effects, including:

     The students may not have been well prepared before the event, in terms of
      their awareness of the type of activity, its objectives and its intended learning

     The teacher may not have considered where and how the experience fits in
      the overall curriculum and schemes of work. This can result in a lack of
      reinforcement and lost learning potential, leaving the INPUT event as an
      isolated experience, that students may not relate it to their wider educational

    The enthusiastic response of teachers at all levels who attend INPUT
    professional development sessions is a clear indicator of the importance of this
    experience. Furthermore, the evidence shows that teachers who attend these
    sessions do go on to organise further INPUT events themselves, and in some
    cases run these independently. Teacher professional development should be a
    high priority in planning the future direction of INPUT programmes.

   INPUT staffing levels: As previously stated (p24), the national INPUT
    programme operates with minimal staffing, relying heavily on the National
    Director and one regular supporting engineer. Some other programmes are
    offered through colleagues associated with INPUT and some are offered by other
    agencies (e.g. SETPOINTS). INPUT staff have maintained an intensive
    schedule, offering programmes throughout the year, and all over the country.
    The success of this is indicated in the data from SETNET presented earlier in this
    report (p24). INPUT has adopted sensible and pro-active strategies to develop
    networks, spread expertise, and disseminate good practice to maximise the
    uptake of programmes. This has included the teacher professional development
    sessions, and the establishment of links with key professional bodies in
    engineering. Some of these links have been successful e.g. CITB‟s support for
    the teacher professional development programme, several key companies and
    other organisations such as the Royal Navy. However, it appears to be an on-
    going struggle for INPUT to attract consistent and medium to long term support
    from the „engineering industry‟. It may be that the sheer number of
    representative agencies involved, and the variety of education projects existing
    alongside INPUT, makes it difficult for the parties to offer specific commitment to
    one project. INPUT has adapted to the circumstances by responding flexibly to
    demand for its programmes, maintaining links with „customers‟, many of whom
    place „repeat orders‟, and continuing to invest some effort in seeking further
    support and opportunities. This strategy has kept INPUT operating virtually at full
    stretch. However, the pressures imposed on INPUT staff are considerable. A
    review of INPUT strategy is appropriate at this stage, in order to secure the future
    pursuit of the INPUT objectives.

   Variable quality of delivery by ‘third parties’: One of the success factors for
    INPUT has been the uptake of programmes at local level by agencies who run
    the programmes themselves. This is clearly desirable, and makes good strategic
    sense, given the pressures on national INPUT staff. Where experienced agents
    or centres are involved, good quality programmes can be delivered. However,
    the evaluation suggests that „quality control‟ may be an issue in some cases.
    Whilst the practical activities themselves tend to be well structured and the
    instructions are clear, there may be some „slippage‟ in the clarity of focus on
    INPUT objectives, and intended learning outcomes. Students and teachers may
    not be sufficiently aware of the purpose and potential of the activities in relation to
    their wider learning and education. Guidance notes and advice have been
    produced for such programmes, but there would seem to be a case for some
    new, high quality support materials to help „third parties‟ run INPUT programmes
    effectively. This also links with previous reference to the importance of
    professional development. A professional development programme to support
    the proposed guidance materials would help to ensure high quality.


   INPUT is very successful in offering science, technology and engineering
    experiences to a large number of students across a wide range of abilities and
    ages. The vast majority of students find the projects enjoyable, engaging and
    motivating. Teachers also regard INPUT as valuable, in motivating students, and
    adding valuable learning in key subject areas and in generic and key skills.

   INPUT programmes offer learning experiences which are relevant to engineering
    and to the curriculum, especially in science and technology. A typical INPUT
    session seeks to include briefing and de-briefing, to explain the objectives and
    draw out the learning outcomes. This can work well. However, the extent of this
    is variable, and subject to time and organisational pressures on the day. This
    leads to a situation in which the objectives and learning outcomes are not always
    reinforced sufficiently. There is a justifiable expectation that teachers will
    emphasise key points after the event, but this may not happen, especially where
    the timing of the INPUT event does not relate closely to the current scheme of
    work in progress for the students.

   The INPUT director and national team have made an outstanding contribution to
    the pursuit of INPUT objectives, and have achieved a very high level of
    productivity, in terms of numbers of programmes and participants. They have
    ensured that the programme is highly regarded by those who participate.

   INPUT projects provide a „unified view‟ of science, technology and engineering,
    consistent with INPUT‟s aims and philosophy. This approach fits well with
    primary education. However, it fits less well with the more rigid, subject based
    structure of the secondary curriculum, and this is likely to reduce the learning
    potential of INPUT programmes at secondary level in some cases. This situation
    is outside the control of INPUT, but has serious implications for the appreciation
    and understanding of engineering in general at secondary level. Whilst courses
    in engineering (including a new GCSE) are available at school, these are only
    currently being taken up by a minority of students, and may not attract the
    (academically) most able. These will still experience science, technology and
    mathematics as separate subjects

   A small number of students may be influenced in their subject choice or career
    ambitions by experience of an INPUT programme. There is evidence that many
    students have very little of understanding of what engineering is, and of the wide
    range of careers available. INPUT programmes do help to raise the awareness
    of some students, and a few indicate willingness to consider engineering as a
    future option. For the majority of students, it is not possible to detect any
    significant change in subject choice or career intention as a result of INPUT
    programmes. However, the challenge presented by this objective must be seen
    in context. There are many powerful, and more sustained influences on young
    people‟s career intentions (e.g. parental, the media, peers, teachers, the rest of
    the curriculum). At pre-16 levels, it is probably only reasonable to focus on
    enjoyment of practical activities and motivation, whilst ensuring that the students
    are aware that they are „doing engineering‟. Evidence from another recent study
    (Hobsons (2004), for ETB „Understanding young people‟s course and career
    choices‟) shows that a number of other schemes or projects appear to have
    relatively little effect on young people‟s decision-making about subjects they

    choose. This study identified parents, teachers, friends and careers advisors as
    the key influences on young people‟s decisions about subject choice.

   Teacher professional development in INPUT programmes is highly successful,
    both for primary and secondary teachers. It generates enthusiasm, and builds
    knowledge and understanding of the applications of science and technology in
    engineering. Teachers attending INPUT professional development go away
    motivated, and show commitment to implement INPUT projects in school. The
    evidence shows that teachers do follow this intention through.

   INPUT projects are attractive to teachers because many of them use simple,
    cheap and easily obtained resources, making them accessible in most school

   A number of INPUT projects have been in use for a number of years. These are
    tried and tested, and are known to work. They can deliver still deliver relevant,
    current learning outcomes. Some respondents did express the view it would be
    valuable to design and add some new projects to the INPUT portfolio

   INPUT programmes are attractive to schools because they meet other objectives,
    beyond the areas of science, technology and engineering. For example, the use
    of a range of teaching and learning styles and the development of generic and
    key skills. They are also useful for developing „enterprise capability‟. All of these
    areas are priorities in school

   The fact that INPUT programmes can meet a range of objectives in addition to
    those focused on science, technology and engineering can be a double-edged
    sword. This feature enhances the value of INPUT for schools and young people,
    and, provided the science, technology and engineering learning outcomes are
    explicit, there is real added value. However, on some occasions there is a
    danger that teachers and students may lose sight of the main INPUT objectives.
    For example, responses from a small number of teachers suggested that
    „working in teams‟ and „communication‟ had become the most important learning
    outcomes, with science, technology or engineering aspects being relegated to
    secondary objectives.

   The involvement and support of professional engineers is an important influence
    on the programme. It is essential that the engineers involved are well-briefed,
    and also have appropriate skills and attitudes. They must display empathy, and
    be able to relate sympathetically to students and teachers. They must also
    understand that the students must be allowed to develop their own ideas. The
    role of the engineer is to facilitate, and encourage, and to avoid excessive
    interference or criticism. Engineers with the right qualities add substantial value
    to the sessions, and provide an opportunity for young people to learn from other
    adults and see role models from engineering However, the importance of
    preparation and careful selection must be emphasised. An individual lacking the
    right qualities for this role can do more harm than good.

   The evidence shows that INPUT continues to provide a valued service, for which
    there is considerable demand. INPUT has been successful in attracting funding
    from a variety of sources e.g. professional engineering bodies, local LSCs,
    companies. However, these sources of funding are irregular and unpredictable.
    A lack of any core funding support is likely to place INPUT in an unstable position
    for the future, and would divert energy and resources into fund-raising, rather

than programme delivery. Given the importance of the „mission‟ which seeks to
promote science, technology and engineering, the work of INPUT should remain
a high priority.

                                  APPENDIX 1

                    Gatsby Technical Education Projects

                       INPUT Programme Investigation

                                  Topic Guide


   What motivated them to become involved?
   What are their expectations on the programme?
   How well prepared do they feel - professional development?
   What have they learnt, which might influence their future teaching?
   What has been the best feature of the programme?
   Are there any features they would want to change?
   After the programme, how effective do they feel it has been for:
     Student learning about curriculum subjects – maths, science and technology
     Student learning about key skills
     Career awareness – science, technology and engineering
     Student enthusiasm and motivation


   Did they find the activity interesting and enjoyable?
   What feature of the programme did they enjoy most?
   Are there any features of the programme which they did not like
   What did they learn about curriculum subjects – maths, science and technology?
   What did they learn about key skills (team work, problem solving,
   What have they learnt about jobs/careers in science technology and engineering?
   Do they feel more positive towards these subjects and these careers?

INPUT Partners

   Why did they become involved?
   What are their expectations and hopes for the outcomes of the programme?
   How satisfied are they with the way the programme works?
   What features do they think are most successful?
   How does their organisation benefit from involvement in INPUT programmes
   What features do they think are least successful?
   Are there any changes or improvements they would suggest?


   What seem to be the key success factors in any INPUT programme?
   What factors seem to reduce the effectiveness, or limit the success of an INPUT
   What are the biggest problems for the organiser in setting up an INPUT
   What do teachers learn from INPUT programmes?
   What do students learn from INPUT programmes?
   What do partners gain from their involvement in INPUT programmes
   How should INPUT change or develop for the future?

                    Gatsby Technical Education Projects

                      INPUT Programme Investigation

                            Project information.



Type of project

School(s) involved

Students involved

Teachers involved

Partners involved


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