What is the Young STEM Leader Programme?

"The Young Stem Leader (YSL) programme offers a great chance to unleash a young person’s creativity to inspire others either in the classroom or within a community setting."

For older YSLs, it represents an excellent way to develop personal skills that will help them stand out from the crowd with employers and university/college admissions.  As well as helping the YSLs to develop important skills such as leadership, communication, mentoring, organising and creativity, the programme will motivate YSLs to consider STEM as a suitable pathway for future learning and careers. 

The Thinking behind YSL

In its Strategy for STEM Education and Training (2017), the Scottish Government committed to ‘establish a new Young STEM Leaders programme to stimulate and strengthen the development of peer mentoring and inspiration in STEM for children and young people by children and young people.’ 

The Scottish Government-funded programme is being led by the  SSERC and a range of partners, including the four Scottish Science Centres, three Scottish STEM Ambassador Hubs, Science Festivals, Young Scot, YouthLink Scotland, Children in Scotland, Education Scotland and the Scottish Mentoring Network. 


The Young STEM Leader Programme will be offered as both a non-formal digitally badged/ certificated award and as a formally accredited award.


The programme is offered at CfE Second, Third and Fourth Levels and is underpinned by a framework that identifies the skills, knowledge and behaviours expected of a Young STEM Leader at each curricular level.  


The formal programme is offered to young people at SCQF levels 4, 5 and 6 and will be accredited and certificated, underpinned by learning outcomes and performance criteria for each level. SCQF credit points and Insight data are included within the formal version of the programme.


Every YSL will receive face-to-face and digital training and those co-ordinating, supporting and assessing the YSLs will also receive training. 


Completing the YSL Programme will be of immense value to Scotland’s young people, giving increased access to the many exciting and engaging experiences that STEM offers, building valuable skills in the process.  It is anticipated that this programme will inspire YSLs to become STEM Ambassadors when they turn 17 years of age.

YSL Pilot

The YSL Pilot was launched in the summer of 2019 with an incredible 1,275 participants across 75 community/ youth groups, primary and secondary schools.

YSLs Pilot Programme focused on the non-formal version at CfE Second Level and the formal, accredited version at SCQF Level 6, resulting in over 30,000 hours of commitment to STEM leadership.

Within CfE Second Level, a total of 2,920 digital badges were awarded and within SCQF Level 6, 1,635 SCQF credits points were earned. 

I am a Young STEM Leader

"Hello! I'm Rachel and I'm 10. 

I became a YSL, so I could lead my Brownie Six to get our 'Make a Change Stage 2' Badge. 

I have 3 digital YSL badges and i'm working on the last one.

So far, I've learned there are lots of jobs in recycling. I could be a Recycling Officer or study Environmental Science when I'm older.


I learned how to organise an event for all our parents and family, so we could collect 3kg of recyclables. We trialed it a few times first and it was great fun! During the real one we collected 6kg!

The rest of our Brownie unit are going to hold another recycling event in a few weeks and they want me to help them lead it. I can't wait!"

I am a Young STEM Leader

"My name's Paul and I'm16. 

I've always loved gaming and I really want to work as a 3D Games Artist. Jobs in gaming are really competitive, so this was a great opportunity for me to develop new skills and increase my chances of working for an international company.

I've been a YouTube gamer for 5 years and get so many kids asking me how they can do it too. I decided I wanted to gain my SCQF Level 6 Young STEM Leader Award by starting a club in my school and training them to be YouTube gamers too.

It's been amazing but I had no idea how much there was to learn about leadership - and this programme has really helped me to identify what I'm good at and what I want to work on. And it's been great fun getting to work with younger kids - I never thought I'd enjoy it as much; their enthusiasm is incredible.

It's been a real challenge working to school lunchtimes and I understand why it's so important to think carefully about every minute. It's even helped my YouTube channel because I'm planning what I'm going to say and rewatching myself afterwards to check I've made sense - I didn't even think of doing this before starting my YSL."

Become a Young STEM Leader

  • Do you live in Scotland?

  • Do you want to experience the enjoyment of STEM?

  • Do you want to be inspired by STEM?

  • Do you want to understand more about the importance of STEM and how it will continue to be a positive influence on our lives?

  • Do you want to challenge stereotypes, perceptions, misconceptions, outdated views and under-appreciation of STEM?

  • Do you want to support, coach, mentor and communicate with others and develop your own skills in these areas?

  • Do you want to create, deliver, contribute to and participate in STEM activities, events and interactions?

  • Do you want to gain an award which confirms your skills as a Young STEM leader?