Aspire to STEM

Aspire to STEM has been developed by STEM Learning as a whole-school approach to CPD which aims to improve attainment and teacher retention in STEM-related subjects. The programme will focus on primary and secondary schools with the greatest need (schools rated ‘Requires Improvement’ or ‘Inadequate’ which are also located in Opportunity Areas). Schools will work in clusters of 5.

The intervention consists of bespoke CPD supplemented by STEM enrichment activities, and will focus on four areas: improved leadership to support STEM teaching; great teaching of STEM subjects; increased science capital within disadvantaged communities; and careers and information guidance. However, the intervention is flexible and will adapt to the needs of each school following an initial ‘needs analysis’.

The programme delivery is being fully funded by the Department for Education as part of their Teaching and Learning Innovation Fund (TLIF). The EEF is funding the evaluation of the programme. 

Why are we funding it?

Evidence suggests that the types of approaches that Aspire to STEM utilises – including improving leadership and engaging schools in sustained, active and collaborative CPD - are likely to impact on pupil outcomes. This will add to EEF’s portfolio of science and mathematics projects and represents a different type of programme than we have funded in these areas previously, with this programme working across schools in all year groups and training teachers at all levels and within a number of departments.

The program has the potential to expend the evidence base about how to improve STEM outcomes, and the EEF also has an interest in some of the intermediate outcomes, such as teacher retention and student aspiration. 

How are we evaluating it?

The programme will be evaluated by a team from RAND through an efficacy trial using a quasi-experimental design. The team will use publicly available data to generate a comparison group of schools.

The impact of the project will be assessed by looking at KS2 and KS4 data, as well as student progression (including the number of students taking triple science at GCSE and the number of students choosing STEM A-levels) and STEM teacher retention.

The evaluation will also include an implementation and process evaluation, which will look at how the programme is implemented across the different school clusters and the barriers and facilitators to implementation. 

When will the evaluation report be due?

The evaluation report will be published in Autumn 2021.

* All programme costs are covered by TLIF with evaluation costs being covered by EEF.