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Limit Less for political audiences

To support young people to change the world, politicians need to make systemic changes.

Logo reads: Limit Less

The UK and Ireland have been at the forefront of physics for centuries. And with the challenges humanity faces today, young people are an important part of keeping our world-changing zeal to discover, learn and invent at the forefront of our society so we can continue to aid in humanity’s biggest challenges.

Young people’s drive to change the world and improve their future should be celebrated and supported, not limited or denied. However, some young people face unfair barriers to studying physics because of who they are or their background. Their opportunities are limited and they miss out on benefiting from the many skills and openings that physics provides, which would help them throughout the rest of their lives, from further education to careers.

“I would get higher grades than my male peers in assessments and homework yet if there was something I didn’t understand they would ‘mansplain’ and make me feel like an idiot. Also in my physics class there were only five females (and around 15 males) and our teacher would call the girls the remedial group and ‘team fake tan’ which made us feel more isolated from the rest of the class.” Female student, age 18

Inaugural Limit Less parliamentary drop-in event

On 5 July 2023 we gave parliamentarians the chance to learn about the Limit Less campaign and how it is supporting young people from underrepresented groups to do physics.

Find out more

How many of your young constituents have found themselves shut out from the opportunities a physics education can lead to because of bias and prejudice about who they are? How at risk are the UK’s world-leading STEM capabilities if promising candidates keep being discouraged, not because of their lack of skills, but because of negative assumptions of what they can achieve?

The Institute of Physics (IOP) is tackling this problem with the Limit Less campaign.

The campaign supports young people from groups that are currently under-represented and underserved in the physics community on multiple fronts; by challenging stereotypes and misconceptions about physics in schools; in their families and communities; and across media and social media.

These are the under-represented and underserved groups we are focused on:

  • girls;
  • young people from disadvantaged backgrounds;
  • disabled young people;
  • LGBT+ young people; and
  • young people of Black Caribbean descent.

What can you as an elected representative do to help?

The IOP has identified areas of policy where we believe changes will have a significant impact on young people’s lives.

With your help we can tackle these problems in the heart of our education systems across the UK and Ireland, to make sure future generations don’t miss out on the benefits that physics can give them.

We have outlined further details on the policy areas we are focused on – click to learn more about each and how you can help.

Revise professional standards

Revise these standards for teachers to set out an expectation that teachers will address injustice in their professional practice and actively dismantle any sexism, racism, homophobia, ableism and classism from their own work and their schools.

Include inclusivity in teacher training

Ensure that all teachers are trained to teach inclusively and to tackle injustice so that they can achieve these robust standards. This should be in both their initial teacher education and their continuing professional learning and development.

Improve school inspections

Direct those responsible for school inspections to place greater emphasis on the importance of inclusive teaching and schools’ efforts to address injustice. 

Mandate whole-school equity plans

Mandate nurseries and schools to develop whole-school equity action plans that:

  • are informed by ongoing data and evidence collection including students’ choices; and
  • promote equity and equality for young people in underserved groups.

We need politicians across the UK and Ireland to push for changes in policies and legislation that will remove barriers preventing young people from under-represented groups to do physics. This will not only benefit these individuals but will lead to improvements in from social mobility and to filling skills gaps, strengthening industry and scientific innovation, keeping the UK at the forefront of physics progress.

As education is a devolved matter, the IOP has specialists across the UK in each nation and Ireland to identify the best policy solutions for each jurisdiction in these policy areas.

The five key messages we want everyone to be sharing are:

  1. Doing physics empowers young people to change the world
  2. Physics is for people of all identities and backgrounds
  3. Physics improves with teamwork and diverse viewpoints
  4. Being a physicist isn’t the only career available to physics students
  5. Physics opens the door to many stable career options, including well-paid jobs that do not require a degree

Download the report

The IOP commissioned Censuswide to conduct two surveys and a series of focus groups to inform our campaign. We also asked our members and subscribers to our Qubit newsletter to provide their own stories of lived experience related to the stereotypes and barriers that our campaign aims to dismantle.

Download and read the report (PDF, 2.83MB)

Support our schools manifesto

Are you an educator? Please read our ten-point manifesto and add your support.

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Limit Less in the news

Discover the wide range of media in which the campaign has been featured so far.

Read more

Limit Less: A whole-school approach to equity and inclusion

Resources to help every school move towards a whole-school equity plan that creates an inclusive learning environment for all young people.

Access the resources

We need your help to improve your young constituents’ lives. For more information on how to help, please contact: [email protected].