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Sage and Newcastle Rugby Foundation team up to tackle STEM skills gap with tech

  • The ‘Tackling Insights’ programme will use smart ball technology to inspire science, technology, engineering and maths learning in schools across the North East 
  • Newcastle Falcons players Will Welch and Sean Robinson joined Sage to launch the initiative at Fawdon Primary in Newcastle. 

London, March 9 2023 – Sage Foundation, the social impact division of Sage, has partnered with Newcastle Rugby Foundation (NRF) to launch a five-week programme called Tackling Insights aimed at making STEM subjects more accessible and engaging for regional school pupils. 

The programme, launched at Fawdon Primary School in Newcastle, will involve nine other North East schools and will reach 600 pupils aged 9 to 11, with a particular focus on girls. 

Sage is the Official Insights Partner to Six Nations Rugby and will use data and insights provided by the smart ball technology, currently used for the first time in both the Guinness Six Nations and the Tik Tok Women’s Six Nations Championships, to show the power of STEM in sport.  

By working with NRF, Sage hopes the partnership will bridge the skills gap in STEM subjects among young people, including those facing barriers to learning and playing the sport. The initiative will also touch on the sport’s core values, such as teamwork, respect, discipline, and sportsmanship. 

The programme will culminate in a celebration and an exclusive stadium tour at Kingston Park, coinciding with the opening TikTok Women’s Six Nations Red Roses match on 25th March, and a rugby taster day on 30th March.  
According to the UK Commission for Employment & Skills, 43pc of science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) vacancies are hard to fill. This is mainly down to a shortage of applicants with the required skills and experience. So Sage, is hoping this initiative will help tackle the gap.  

Cadence Willis, VP of Sage Foundation, said: “Sage has an important role to play in not only plugging the skills gap by inspiring young people to consider careers in STEM. This means developing programmes and partnering with brilliant organisations, such as NRF, to make STEM accessible and fun.” 

Melanie Magee, Head of Newcastle Rugby Foundation, said: “Combining the inspirational event at Kingston Park as England’s Red Roses take on Scotland in the Tik Tok Women’s Six Nations, while using the exciting smart ball technology, alongside the schools’ sessions, is a unique way to promote STEM learning in schools. We know this project will make a positive difference to hundreds of the region’s young people.” 


Notes to Editor 

The ten schools involved in the initiative are: Kenton Bar Primary School, Cambois Primary School, North Fawdon Primary School in Newcastle, Mountfield Primary School in Kenton, Stocksfield Avenue Primary School in Fenham, Hilton Primary Academy in Blakelaw, St. Cuthbert’s Primary School in Fenham, St George’s Primary School in Lemington, Croftway Primary School and Horton Grange Primary School both in Blyth. 

As of February 2021, the North East technology sector was the biggest hiring sector in the region with a healthy pipeline of start-ups and fast-growing tech businesses*. However, according to the Industrial Strategy Council, the UK’s supply of skills, particularly technology and people skills, will struggle to keep up with increased demand over the next decade. Source:  

Digital skills also carry a large wage advantage.*** research found roles requiring digital skills pay 29% (£8,300) over those roles that do not (£37,000 vs £28,700) with the premium increasing at higher skill levels. Source:  

About Sage 

Sage exists to knock down barriers so everyone can thrive, starting with the millions of Small and Mid-Sized Businesses served by us, our partners and accountants. Customers trust our finance, HR and payroll software to make work and money flow. By digitising business processes and relationships with customers, suppliers, employees, banks and governments, our digital network connects SMBs, removing friction and delivering insights. Knocking down barriers also means we use our time, technology and experience to tackle digital inequality, economic inequality and the climate crisis. 

About Newcastle Falcons Foundation 

Established in 2005, Newcastle Rugby Foundation (NRF) is the official charity of Newcastle Falcons and Newcastle Thunder professional teams. Each year, they work with 15,000+ people in the North-East and Cumbria in some of the most deprived communities to activate positive change.  

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