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Luke Helstrip

Leeds Sixth Form College secures grant for STEM skills project

A science teacher at Leeds Sixth Form College has been awarded £3000 of funding for his skills development project as part of the Let Teachers SHINE competition.

Luke Helstrip, who has been with the college for a year, has developed a project that supports students to enhance their soft skills, such as creative thinking, communication, problem solving and collaboration, enabling them to make faster progress in lessons.

Run by education charity SHINE and Times Education Supplement, the competition offers a funding lifeline to innovative teachers with pioneering project ideas. With the aim to boost the attainment of young people from disadvantaged backgrounds, the organisation provides advice and training to allow teachers to make a difference within the student community.

Luke hopes his ‘Impact of STEM 7’ project will help students improve exam results and apply for jobs and university places. He said: “I grew up in an area of high deprivation, so I appreciate the challenges that students face when completing applications and progressing through education. I hope to develop students’ self-confidence and ability to reflect on their own skill development by making changes to teaching practices which highlight soft skill development. 

“Information on students’ skill reflections will then be analysed, providing us with data on progress over time and the impact of the strategy. Initially, I will be running the programme as a pilot study within my own class. If this is successful, we hope to roll this scheme out across all A level subjects at Leeds Sixth Form College.”

All grantees will receive one-to-one sessions with the School of Social Entrepreneurs and the University of Manchester to determine individual needs and develop a bespoke training package.

Helen Rafferty, interim chief executive of SHINE, said: “Congratulations to all the winners of this year’s Let Teachers SHINE competition. This year’s awards were held during some of the most challenging times teachers have ever faced, making the quality of the applications all the more impressive. 

“Each of the teachers who took part in the competition demonstrated their innovation and commitment to really make a difference to the futures of children from low-income families. 

“We look forward to working with the winners to help them develop their ideas and help hundreds of children to succeed at school.”