EEF and Royal Society partner to improve science results for disadvantaged pupils

10 February 2016

The Education Endowment Foundation (EEF) - in partnership with the Royal Society - will be investigating ways to improve science results for disadvantaged pupils in primary and secondary schools across England, it was announced today. 

The organisations are jointly commissioning a review of the current evidence about science education in formal education settings for young people. The review will identify the most promising approaches and programmes which can support young people to achieve key educational outcomes in science, with a particular focus on pupils from economically disadvantaged backgrounds.

The review will also analyse the existing evidence to help teachers and schools identify the most effective approaches to raise the attainment of their pupils in science. These might include programmes that focus on professional development for teachers, individual and small-group interventions; and support at home. 

The attainment gap in English schools is well documented: the latest figures show just 33.1% of all young people classified as disadvantaged achieved the expected standard of 5 good GCSEs, compared to 60.9% of all other pupils. Although the data suggests that the link between economic disadvantage and attainment in science is no stronger in science than in other subjects, the Royal Society’s report SES and Science Education (2008) suggested the gap “may be more persistent over time in science”. 

The EEF and Royal Society are seeking proposals from research teams able to complete this review by July 2016. The deadline for proposals is 9am on 4 March 2016. The full invitation to tender can be accessed at

The literature review will be published later this year.

Sir Kevan Collins, Chief Executive of the Education Endowment Foundation, said today:

“The data is clear. Pupils from disadvantaged homes are much less likely than their peers to achieve 5 good GCSE results. We believe that helping schools to use evidence and understand better the most effective ways to improve results is the best way to tackle this country’s stark attainment gap.

“I’m pleased that EEF is partnering with the Royal Society who are offering funding, support and advice. Together, we hope to be able to identify the most promising ways to tackle the attainment gap in science.” 

Professor Tom McLeish FRS, Chair of the Royal Society’s Education Committee, said:

“Science is at the heart of modern life and provides the foundations for economic prosperity. In a world increasingly dependent on scientific and technological advances, it is absolutely vital that every UK citizen has a good science education grounding. It’s also of absolute importance that young people from all backgrounds are given the chance to do well in and enjoy these subjects. 

“The Royal Society is excited to be working on this project with EEF - it’s a first and vital step towards to understanding how we can help give disadvantaged students the means to improve their science results and expand their horizons.”

Find out more about education research at the Royal Society.