Limit Less for educators
We know educators play a major role in influencing young people.
Despite the best efforts of many teachers and the physics community, systemic change is still needed from early years to further education, and beyond. Limit Less is the campaign to ensure educators are supported and equipped to give every young person the opportunities they deserve.
If you support changing education for the better join us now by signing our manifesto.
Physics empowers young people to change the world. It allows them to understand how things work, from the unimaginably vast to the very small.
Sadly, far too many young people live their lives against a backdrop of other people’s expectations and preconceptions. They are often told from an early age that certain subjects, including physics, aren’t for them. This happens both indirectly and directly – from toys, stories and games in nurseries to overt discrimination as they are growing up. We know many individual teachers are battling to address the injustices experienced by many young people, but whilst we are living with the violence of racism, sexism, classism, ableism and anti-LGBT+ sentiment, no school is immune.
“I am autistic with dyslexia and went to a specialist-provision school until I was 16. I was specifically told by the sixth-form head of science that I would never be a scientist and to ‘give up’. I was offered a place to study English and philosophy which I never completed because I really didn’t have the passion for it.” PhD student from a working-class background, age 33
That’s why we need a change across the system to ensure all schools, leaders, and teachers are able and fully supported to dismantle prejudice and make the changes we all want to see.
This work isn’t only urgent for the young people themselves; having a diverse range of viewpoints is crucial for economic progress and productive teamwork. In other words, it’s good for physics and industry in the UK and elsewhere.
We know that the valuable skills gained by studying physics can take young people into a range of rewarding futures, from engineering to finance and even art. The subject opens doors to numerous stable and well-paid jobs – including many that do not require a degree in any subject.
What needs to change?
Our manifesto details the changes we want to see in education at every level. We know from decades of our own and others’ research that a whole-school approach is needed to ensure that everyone – from students, educators, parents and governors or trustees – shapes and takes responsibility for an inclusive environment. This goes for other settings also, from nursery to further education.
“There can so often be pressure from those around us to focus on the subjects that we’re best at even if they’re not what we enjoy the most. If it wasn’t for the belief my teacher had in me I would never have thought myself able to study for a master’s in physics and astrophysics!” Female student, age 20
That’s why one of our main focuses is campaigning for all settings to take a holistic approach to looking at the barriers faced by young people from our under-represented groups and then put in place actions to dismantle those barriers.
The five key messages we want people to hear are:
- Doing physics empowers young people to change the world
- Physics is for people of all identities and backgrounds
- Physics improves with teamwork and diverse viewpoints
- Being a physicist isn’t the only career available to physics students
- Physics opens the door to many stable career options, including well-paid jobs that do not require a degree
Hear from Noel-Baker Academy about embedding a whole-school approach.
Learn more about our partner projects and download resources from the Inclusion in Schools programme.
- In our 2020 survey (PDF, 2.83MB) of 616 young people aged 14-21 across the UK and Ireland, teachers were rated as the most popular source of information for careers and education choices by young people.
- According to the Drawing the Future study (2018), most children have a fixed idea of what they can achieve later in life by age seven.
- While there are subtle regional and national differences, only around one in four young people choosing to continue with physics post-16 are girls – JCQ, StatsWales, SQA, SEC, 2021.
- 2% of students of Black Caribbean descent progressed to A-level physics in 2019 compared to 5.1% of all students (source: Improving Gender Balance and Drayson Foundation Pilot Project Evaluation Report).