Evaluating ‘Aspire to STEM’

School children perform a chemistry experiment

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While Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) subjects are seen as increasingly important in the workplace, many children perform poorly in mathematics and science, particularly in schools with higher percentages of disadvantaged pupils.

To improve attainment, the UK Department of Education is funding a three-year initiative called ‘Aspire to STEM’ as part of the Teaching and Leadership Innovation Fund. Delivered by STEM Learning, the intervention clusters five schools in the same geographical area together to form a partnership where they share resources and support, adapted to local needs and context. Each cluster of schools receives funding for bespoke professional development for teachers and school leadership and guidance for teachers and leaders on STEM careers for pupils. The clusters also gain access to online resources and STEM enrichment activities delivered by a network of STEM Ambassador volunteers.


RAND Europe was commissioned by the Education Endowment Foundation to evaluate the Aspire to STEM intervention. In doing so, the project aims to understand what impact the intervention has on children’s learning and teacher retention.


The project team will be looking at approximately 200 intervention schools (40 partnerships) in areas with low social mobility. The team will compare intervention schools to other similar schools in the country using machine learning techniques. The intervention will be evaluated in respect to pupil attainment at Key Stages 2 and 4, as well as teacher retention.