New fund to find out how best to boost science results for disadvantaged pupils

A new multi-million pound fund will test different teaching and learning strategies to find the best ways to improve science results for disadvantaged pupils, the Education Endowment Foundation and Wellcome announced today.

The new fund follows a literature review by the EEF and the Royal Society that analysed the current gap in science attainment between disadvantaged pupils and their more advantaged peers. It found that there is a gap in science outcomes at every stage in the education system, which first becomes apparent at Key Stage 1 (ages 5 – 7) and only gets wider throughout primary and secondary school and on to A-level. The gap is as wide as it is in English and maths and grows particularly strongly between the ages 5-7 and 11-16.

The report also reviewed the best international research to identify the interventions and approaches for which there is evidence of a positive impact on young people’s learning outcomes, particularly those from disadvantaged backgrounds. While the researchers found good evidence that some strategies lead to improved outcomes, they highlighted a lack of evidence around specific programmes and interventions.

Today’s fund aims to fill these gaps in the evidence base by evaluating promising interventions, programmes and approaches. The trials, which will be conducted across large numbers of schools across the UK, will all be independently evaluated. The two organisations are seeking applications from interested organisations by April 2018.

The EEF has already funded a number of projects that aim to improve science results. In Thinking, Doing, Talking Science, teachers were trained in a repertoire of strategies that aimed to encourage pupils to use higher order thinking skills. For example, pupils were posed ‘Big Questions’, such as ‘How do you know that the earth is a sphere?’ that are used to stimulate discussion about scientific topics and the principles of scientific enquiry. The independent evaluation found a positive impact on the attainment of pupils in science equivalent to an additional +3 months' progress.

The independent evaluation found that Year 5 pupils in schools using the approach made approximately three additional months’ progress. It appeared to have a particularly positive effect for disadvantaged pupils.

For more information, please visit our How to Apply page. 

Notes to editors

  1. The Education Endowment Foundation (EEF) is a grant-making charity set up in 2011 by the Sutton Trust as lead foundation in partnership with Impetus Trust (now part of Impetus–The Private Equity Foundation), with a £125m founding grant from the Department for Education. 
  2. Wellcome exists to improve health for everyone by helping great ideas to thrive. We’re a global charitable foundation, both politically and financially independent. We support scientists and researchers, take on big problems, fuel imaginations and spark debate. Wellcome.ac.uk