Science education: inspiring teachers and students

Science should be exciting for young people, giving them skills and opportunities to improve their futures. But not all young people are inspired by science. Some don’t find it relevant to their lives, or know what careers are available. We want to make sure that all young people in the UK have access to a world-class science education.

What we're doing 

To make our vision for high-quality, inspiring science education a reality, we invest over £5 million each year in education research, professional development opportunities, and resources and activities for teachers and students.

Research and evidence for decision-making

Research and evidence is at the heart of our support for education. We use it to find out about and champion the things that make a positive, measurable difference to young people’s understanding of and interest in science. 

The findings from our Science Education Tracker – a survey of young people’s attitudes towards and experiences of science education – help us to inform and shape future policy and practice. Through our work in educational neuroscience, we bring together insights from education, neuroscience and psychology to improve the way young people learn. And through our funding schemes, we have supported a variety of educational research.

Supporting professional development

Research tells us that the biggest impact on young people’s performance at school is the quality of teaching they receive. But to provide high-quality inspirational lessons, all teachers should have access to continuing professional development to keep up-to-date with the latest research and ways of teaching. 

Since 2003 we’ve invested £45 million in science-related professional development at the National STEM Learning Centre. We also regularly invest in research into continuing professional development and its impact on teachers, schools and young people.

Transforming primary science

We know that a young person’s love for science often starts in primary school. However, other subjects have been prioritised over science in the teaching curriculum over recent years. 

We want to give primary school teachers the skills, knowledge, confidence and passion they need to improve primary science teaching. That’s why we developed resources like Explorify, a programme of fun and simple science activities to inspire teachers and spark their pupils’ curiosity, now managed by STEM Learning.

We also campaign for improvements to primary science through policy change. 

Other areas of work

Alongside our three main areas of focus, we also support informal science learningschool governors and practical science

Why it matters

  • 35% of teachers strongly agree that academic research influences how they teach, but only 12% of teachers find academic research easy to understand. 
  • On average, UK primary schools teach science for 1 hour and 24 minutes a week. Only 42% teach science for our recommendation of two or more hours a week.
  • Opportunities for teachers to engage in professional learning and development can have a big impact on student learning. Students with good teachers can make progress twice as fast as those without.

What we want to achieve 

If we’re successful, in five years we’ll have helped to reshape and improve science education in the UK. More young people will receive an excellent science education from passionate, well-trained, inspiring teachers. 

Research and evidence will sit at the heart of good teaching practice. By providing compelling educational research, we’ll influence education policy and make sure that evidence is used to support change and improve teaching and learning. 

We’ll help to change the culture of professional development in UK schools, through funding science-related professional development for teachers, and using our research to show the benefits of training. Our aim is for all teachers to regularly access professional development, with 100% of secondary schools and 22% of primary schools benefitting from training at the National STEM Learning Centre by 2023.

Working with our partners, we’ll provide training and resources for teachers to improve the quality of science lessons in primary schools. We’ll also encourage and support primary schools to provide a minimum of two hours science teaching each week.

By acting now, we’ll support evidence-informed changes in education policy, and make sure all young people have the inspiring and relevant science education they deserve. 

Latest news 

Reports and consultations 

Involving young people in health research

This study explores the role, benefits and potential of young people’s involvement in health research, with a focus on mental health, infectious diseases and global heating.

Science Education Tracker 2019

More than 6,400 young people across England have taken part in our survey into attitudes towards and experiences of science education and careers.