Improving Science Education is a new funding scheme, launched by the Wellcome Trust and the Education Endowment Foundation (EEF) in December 2017. This one-off scheme aims to generate new evidence about science teaching, with the particular aim of closing the science attainment and progression gap that exists between disadvantaged pupils and their more affluent peers.
We are looking for interventions or approaches that are informed and supported by encouraging evidence of impact on attainment and/or progression. Interventions should focus on science attainment and/or progression and we are particularly interested in approaches that are likely to be beneficial for disadvantaged learners.
Interventions should be practical for schools and we expect project teams to include relevant expertise to ensure that approaches are feasible for schools to deliver.
The Wellcome Trust and EEF have undertaken pieces of work that we hope will support applications to this funding scheme and these can be found below.
Successful proposals will:
Focus on raising the science attainment and/or the progression of pupils within the age range 5-16 in UK schools. We are particularly interested in approaches that seek to improve the attainment of disadvantaged learners (pupils eligible for pupil premium funding) and would expect applicants to be willing to work in challenging schools. The progression of students is likely to focus on progression to study a science A-level or other post-16 science qualifications
Be informed and supported by encouraging evidence of an impact on attainment and progression. If available, evidence of the impact of the approach being proposed should be provided. Please refer to the Sutton Trust and the EEF’s Teaching and Learning Toolkit and the recent review “A review of SES and science learning in formal educational settings”, both available on the EEF website as a starting point.
Be practical, appropriate, affordable and scalable. Our aim is to identify interventions and approaches that, if shown to be successful, could be taken on by other schools. Therefore we are only interested in testing initiatives that are practical and affordable for schools. We also need to understand what training and support is needed so that schools and teachers can use the intervention effectively.
Be willing and able to be independently evaluated. We will rigorously evaluate the impact on attainment and, if appropriate, impact on progression of the projects, wherever possible by randomly allocating which schools or pupils receive it. We will appoint an independent evaluator, and work with successful applicants to design an appropriate evaluation plan. Note that this does not need to be included in your project plan and budget.
Be led by a project team with expertise in the relevant areas. For example, the team should have experience of delivery with teachers, or within schools. Ideally, the team would include someone with extensive teaching experience. We welcome applications from a variety of organisation including, schools, universities, charities and for-profit organisations.
Type of projects
We are interested in projects that either:
Test the impact of a fully developed intervention through a randomised controlled trial (with the evaluation aspect designed in collaboration with the independent evaluator). For this to be applicable the intervention would need to have been previously been delivered in a number (at least 10) schools and be fully developed in terms of the resources and training required. There would also be clear descriptions of what good fidelity to the intervention looks like and evidence indicating that the programme is likely to impact on attainment. An example of an existing EEF project that met this criteria is Thinking, Doing, Talking Science, which had previously been evaluated in 16 primary schools through a match study. In addition there was background evidence that supported the rational for the programme.
Test the feasibility and collective evidence of promise of a more developmental project through a pilot evaluation (again, with the evaluation aspect of the project being designed in collaboration with the independent evaluator). For projects to be suitable for this funding they would need to have evidence (from the literature) supporting the rationale for the approach and why we would expect this to lead to the intended outcomes. They would also need to demonstrate the need for the project and that they are not re-developing something that already exists.