Education Endowment Foundation:Primary Science Quality Mark (trial)

Primary Science Quality Mark (trial)

University of Hertfordshire
Project info

Independent Evaluator

Manchester Metropolitan University logo
Manchester Metropolitan University

Trial to test the impact of Primary Science Quality Mark (PSQM), a one-year professional development and school improvement programme for science subject leads, to equip them with the knowledge, confidence, and support to (i) develop effective science leadership and (ii) undertake school self-evaluation, with the aim to improve school-wide science teaching, raise the profile of science, and support pupils’ science outcomes.

Pupils: 7524 Schools: 342 Grant: £768,606
Participating settings: 342

This project was recruiting but is now full. 

This page covers the effectiveness trial of PSQM. The effectiveness trial is aimed at testing PSQM under everyday conditions in a larger number of schools. To read about the first (efficacy) trial – which was a COVID impacted trial – click here.

Primary Science Quality Mark (PSQM), developed from the University of Hertfordshire, provides school science leaders with a framework for self-assessment, reflection, and development, alongside relevant training and support, with the aim to improve the skill, quality, and confidence of science subject leadership.

PSQM is delivered by dedicated hub-leaders who are experts in science. Hub-leaders provide one year of on-line professional development, mentoring and support; six structured hub-based sessions totalling 12 hours; and support for the science subject leader to carry out a rigorous process of school self-evaluation, develop an action plan, and complete a reflective submission. Science subject leaders who successfully complete the programme receive recognition for their school through the accreditation of a Primary Science Quality Mark. If participating schools are allocated to deliver the programme, they will receive PSQM free of charge.

PSQM was evaluated at efficacy level by the EEF, but was a COVID affected trial. No impact data was collected, however an Implementation and Process Evaluation (IPE) was published which suggests that several of the changes PSQM aims to achieve were demonstrated in schools receiving the programme. Headteachers and science subject leads reported that taking part in PSQM had raised the profile of science in their schools, and that those in science leadership in their school had become more confident and credible, with science leads reporting better ability to monitor and improve science teaching and learning across the school.

This adds to other qualitative research suggesting that PSQM can benefit schools in multiple ways. However, to date, there is no experimental evidence on whether the programme leads to improvements in pupil outcomes in science. The programme already operates at a national scale, being one of very few primary science programmes that are of high interest to schools, therefore this trial will establish whether the programme is impactful when delivered in every-day conditions – which reflects the current approach and extent of delivery.

This project will be evaluated by Manchester Metropolitan University through a randomised controlled trial, randomised at school level. This means that schools that sign up are randomly assigned to one of two groups: the delivery’ group, who implement the programme being tested; or the control group, where practice continues as normal.

The evaluation will be carried out over a two-year period because PSQM supports science subject leaders to audit, plan, and implement changes to science teaching across the one-year programme. The expectation is that changes will not take effect until the end of the programme in the first year, and then become embedded in the second year.

The aim of the evaluation will be to assess the impact of PSQM on pupils’ science attainment (the primary outcome) one year following the end of receiving PSQM. The trial will also evaluate the impact of PSQM on pupils’ attitudes towards science (secondary outcome). An Implementation and Process evaluation will be conducted alongside the impact evaluation to explore how schools implement the programme and stakeholder perceptions of PSQM.

The evaluation report will be published in Summer 2027.