Press release

New £30 million investment to 'enthuse' the next generation of scientists

The Wellcome Trust today announces a new £30 million partnership between the private, public and charitable sectors to offer much needed training to science teachers enabling the UK to produce the next generation of world class scientists.

The project, entitled 'Project ENTHUSE', will receive a £10 million investment from the Government over the next five years, with a further £10 million from the Wellcome Trust and up to £10 million from business partners including: AstraZeneca, AstraZeneca Science Teaching Trust, BAE Systems, BP, General Electric, GlaxoSmithKline and Rolls-Royce.

Recent research shows that approximately 50 per cent of all secondary school science teachers have had no subject knowledge-related continuing professional development (CPD) in the past five years (' Believers, Seekers and Sceptics', Wellcome Trust, January 2006). CPD linked to subject and teaching skills is highly valued by teachers as is the desire for new subject knowledge, particularly in science.

Over 4,000 science teachers throughout the UK have already taken advantage of the world-class teaching and training resources at the National Science Learning Centre. This new injection of funding will extend the experience to state schools throughout the country.

Through Project ENTHUSE, bursaries will become available for teachers to attend courses at the National Science Learning Centre. This initiative provides an excellent example of business, Government and education working together to support new professionalism in teaching.

In today's Budget Statement, the Chancellor of the Exchequer Alistair Darling included an announcement of the project:

"I can announce today that we will commit £10 million over the next five years, which alongside contributions from the Wellcome Trust and private sector will create a £30 million Enthuse Science fund.

"This will give every science teacher in secondary and further education access to high quality professional development helping improve the science offer to today's children."

Sir William Castell, Chairman of the Wellcome Trust, said: "The world's challenges will be met through an increasing reliance on science. To further improve schools' performance in science we have formed a unique partnership between business, Government and the Wellcome Trust. Project ENTHUSE, initially funded by the partners with £30 million, is designed to retool our teachers through a programme of professional development in science underpinned by industrial experience. With this investment we will be able to touch the teaching of science in all our state schools in the UK and thereby excite, motivate and enthuse the young people of our nation."

John Patterson, Executive Director for Development at AstraZeneca, said: "Many of my colleagues at AstraZeneca were inspired to embark on a career in science by great teachers. We hope that the learning and development opportunities offered by project ENTHUSE will help teachers to achieve their full potential and give them confidence to meet the challenge of inspiring tomorrow's scientists."

Mike Turner, Chief Executive Officer of BAE Systems, said: "The continuing decline in the number of science, engineering and technology graduates is a real threat to the future competitiveness of the UK's industrial sector. BAE Systems is proud to play its part in helping our science teachers inspire young people to be the engineers of the future."

Peter Mather, BP Head of Country UK, comments: "BP is delighted to be a founding supporter of Project ENTHUSE. We believe that business has an important role to play in education by inspiring teachers and inspiring students, particularly in the areas of science, technology, engineering and mathematics. We look forward to helping Project ENTHUSE to make a significant impact on the teaching of science to young people across the nation."

Andrew Witty, CEO designate, GlaxoSmithKline, said: "Project ENTHUSE is a great example of partnership between the private, public and charitable sectors to resolve an issue of significance to us all. Together we will enable science teachers to participate in training to keep their skills current, allowing them to continue to inspire the next generation of scientists and science teachers. GSK is proud to support this excellent initiative."

Tom Brown, Director of Human Resources at Rolls-Royce plc, said: "It is vitally important to the future of the UK economy that the science and engineering skills base is strengthened. By supporting science teachers to foster enthusiasm for these subjects, we believe we can help encourage young people to take up careers in science and engineering."