Eligibility and judging criteria

Eligibility checks are undertaken after Stage 1 in the application process has been submitted, so please ensure you read the eligibility carefully.

The eligibility information is split into the following sections: the project, the project partners, and funding. The judging criteria shows how applications are judged and what aspects are particularly important.


The project

  • You must apply with a specific research project rather than a series of independent activities or experiments for a STEM club. Use this project planning guidance document to help you prepare your research project
  • The students involved in the project must be between 5 and 18. Reception years are eligible if the project is run in conjunction with other age groups. Sixth form and further education colleges are also eligible
  • The title of the project must be a scientific question that the students are attempting to answer by completing their research
  • Your project must be specific to the school and cannot be part of a third-party scheme or competition
  • There must be at least one term between the date you submit and your project starting to allow time for judging and administration to transfer funds. Due to school closures over summer, if you would like your project to start in the autumn term it must start from October. Full timeline details can be found here
  • Your project must run for a minimum of one term. Please note the longer your project lasts, the stronger your application will be
  • If your project includes components that rely on conducting experiments involving humans or animals, you will need to show you have thought about the ethics of the project and how any ethical considerations will be dealt with.

The project partners

  • The school must be a UK based school
  • The lead applicant must be the school partner and must start the application form
  • Any member of staff from the school can act as the school partner but please note, if the application is successful, it will be this individual who will be the main point of contact for the Royal Society during the running of the project and will be responsible for submitting the required updates and reports
  • A group of schools can apply together for a single grant (ie more than one school is highlighted on a single grant application), but there must be one identified lead school who can complete the application form and receive the funding. If the application is successful, this lead school will be the main point of contact for the Royal Society during the running of the project. If multiple schools wish to work on the same project topic but all apply for their own, separate grant, this is what we call a ‘collaborative project’ and you can contact the Schools Engagement team for more guidance regarding how to go about this. For collaborative projects, each school receiving a grant will have to submit their own reporting
  • Schools can work with multiple STEM partners but there must be an individual who can act as the lead STEM partner. More information about working with multiple STEM partners can be found here
  • The lead STEM partner must be above graduate level in a university or research institute, or with appropriate industrial experience
  • The lead STEM partner must be someone actively working in a STEM related role in academia or industry and cannot be retired
  • The lead STEM partner should not be an individual whose main role is the provision of outreach or education e.g. a public engagement officer, education coordinator or fellow teacher. However, outreach providers working in industry or academia, with a research background, may be considered depending on the project being undertaken
  • The STEM partner's support should be predominantly in-person and can be supplemented by online support
  • Further information about the role of the STEM partner can be found here
  • Each school partner can only apply once per round
  • Previous recipients of a Partnership Grant can apply for further funding but:
    • There must be at least one year between application rounds
    • All reporting requirements must be completed for the original project 


  • Funding is paid directly to the school (or lead school if multiple are involved in the same grant)) and must be paid into a school bank account
  • Funding should predominantly be used to buy equipment
  • If a single piece of equipment makes up the majority of the budget, you must clearly justify why the piece is crucial for the success of the project
  • Funding of up to £200 can be used to support the STEM partner's travel
  • Funding of up to £300 per term can be used to support teacher cover if the success of the project will be compromised without this support. This request should be supported by letter from the Head teacher within the application. If the maximum grant is required to fund equipment, then additional funding for cover can be requested over the course of the project
  • Funding cannot be used on the following:
    • to purchase items directly from the STEM partner and the STEM partner should not make a commercial gain from the project. This is due to conflict of interest
    • to take part in third-party schemes or competitions
    • third-party, pre-prepared workshops
    • consultancy or advisor fees for scientists, engineers or freelance science communicators
    • the purchase of pre-prepared kits (e.g. Lego kits, eco cars or rocket-boats), unless they are to be used in a wider investigation, i.e. they are part of a project which clearly demonstrates a sound use of scientific methodology
    • normal running costs or equipment of a school science/technology department
    • teachers based in educational establishments outside the UK
    • projects that take place outside the UK or travel overseas

Judging Criteria

All submitted Stage 2 applications are reviewed by at least two members of the Partnership Grants Allocating Panel.

The following criteria are used by the judges during the review process. Please note that the STEM partner’s involvement and the investigative element of the project are double weighted during the judging process due to their importance. 


Judging Criteria

Project title

Must be a question that the students are attempting to answer by completing the project.

STEM partner involvement

The judges will be looking for sustained, meaningful interaction between the STEM partner(s) and students throughout the lifetime of the project.

This element is double weighted during the judging process.

Investigative element

It needs to be clear to the judges that your investigations link to your project title and that students will be using the scientific method. The judges will also want to see that there is opportunity for your students to develop new skills, including data analysis.

This element is double weighted during the judging process.

Equipment and materials

The judging panel will be checking that your items link to your project and it is important that you make sure the items are clearly justified. Funding should not be used to purchase items normally covered by school budgets. The judges will also want to see that proposed items represent best value for money.

Involvement and selection of students

It is crucial that the judges can see how you have selected your students, taking into account diversity characteristics such as gender diversity and ethnicity. The judges will want to see a high number of students involved or if that is not feasible and your project will involve a small group there needs to be a clear plan to communicate the work to the wider school community.

Project legacy

Partnership Grant projects should be sustainable. Therefore, the judges will want to see that there are long-term benefits to your students and wider school community in terms of teaching and learning of STEM subjects. The Panel will look if there are plans to repeat or extend your project.

Eligibility FAQ’s

The questions below are commonly asked by prospective applicants and the answers provide useful hints and tips for your application. Please also review the guidance pages regarding the application, partnership and guidance to support SEND as you write your application. Don’t forget that draft applications can be sent to the Schools Engagement team for review before you submit.

If your project includes a 'design and build' aspect (for example, building a car, robots, weather station, etc), make sure there is still a clear investigative element. When thinking about the investigations consider the variables and what they will be. Find more information about variables and the different types of variables (PDF). It is also important to think about how students will analyse data and give clear evidence of how students will gain data handling techniques. Techniques used and expectations will be dependent on the age of the students but could involve statistical analysis, computational analysis, use of digital applications or visualisation techniques.

No, it is more important that you are clear as to why you need what you are intending to purchase instead of how much you are asking for. All equipment should clearly link to one or more of the investigation activities described in your application.  

Applicants will now be given a choice of a £1,500 or £3,000 grant. Any applicant’s budget table that totals £2,250 or less will be awarded £1,500 any that totals above £2,250 will be awarded £3,000. Those awarded £1,500 will be able to apply for additional top up funds during their project if required, leading to a combined total of £3,000. 

This is not a problem but make sure it is clearly explained when you justify your equipment, otherwise the judges may raise questions around the costs.  

Yes they can. However, there should be a legacy for your project, so for any consumables you request, think about how you will fund these once the grant money has been spent.