Science Education Tracker 2023

This report, commissioned by the Royal Society in partnership with EngineeringUK, and undertaken by Verian (formerly Kantar Public), presents the findings of the 2023 survey.

The Science Education Tracker is a major national survey of young people’s experiences of science education in England and their attitudes towards science and to careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

How many Science Education Tracker surveys have been undertaken?

The Science Education Tracker was established by Wellcome in 2016. Wellcome commissioned a second survey in 2019. A third survey was undertaken in 2023 by the Royal Society in partnership with EngineeringUK, with grant funding from Wellcome.

Why is the Science Education Tracker important?

The Science Education Tracker provides unique information on young people’s experiences and views of science education, their interest in science and their career aspirations. Being representative of the national population (see next question), the Tracker is a reliable source of insights into strengths and weaknesses in the education system, able to detect emerging issues of concern (such as the diminution of ‘hands on’ practical work in science). The Tracker may also serve as an early warning of future skills shortages, which could have a negative impact on the economy.  

How valid is the information in the Science Education Tracker?

The findings contained within Science Education Tracker reports are based on a large sample of young people attending secondary schools and sixth form colleges in England, randomly drawn from the National Pupil Database and the Individualised Learner Record. Sampling is representative of the national population including with respect to a range of demographic factors, such as gender, age, ethnicity, and geographical region.

Does the Science Education Tracker always ask the same questions?

Many of the questions in the 2023 Tracker survey repeated those used previously, to allow tracking with SET 2016 and SET 2019. The SET 2023 survey content was adapted to allow for changes in the educational policy landscape since the last survey and the strategic concerns of the Royal Society and EngineeringUK. For instance, the 2023 Tracker includes, for the first time, questions about engineering.  

Does the Science Education Tracker always survey the same students?

The Tracker adopts a ’cross-sequential’ design that involves collecting data from different age cohorts at a specific time over an extended period. For each survey, a representative random sample is selected from the National Pupil Database. A different sample of young people is taken each time, but it is possible, although unlikely, that someone could be selected for more than one survey. 

Where can I obtain all the data from the Science Education Tracker surveys?

The complete datasets for the 2023 Science Education Tracker will be deposited with the UK Data Service, which is where the 2016 and 2019 Science Education Tracker surveys are stored.

Other relevant links

The Royal Society has undertaken a study examining international research relating to beneficial effects of practical inquiry on secondary school students.