The UK-based Education Endowment Foundation and the Wellcome Trust have announced the establishment of a multimillion-pound fund that will support the testing of different teaching and learning strategies aimed at improving science results among disadvantaged students.
Created in response to a literature review by EEF and the Royal Society that examined gaps in science attainment between disadvantaged students and their more advantaged peers, the fund hopes to close such gaps by supporting the independent evaluation of promising interventions, programs, and approaches to science education across the UK.
According to the review, gaps in science outcomes exist at every stage in the UK and first become apparent between the ages of 5 and 7, widening thereafter in primary and secondary school and on to A-levels. Indeed, the gap is as wide as is the performance gap in English and math, and grows significantly between the ages of 5 and 7 and 11 and 16.
EEF has already funded a number of projects focused on improving science results, including one in which teachers were trained in a range of strategies aimed at encouraging students to use higher order thinking skills. For example, students were presented with "big questions" such as "How do you know that the earth is a sphere?" as a way to stimulate discussion about scientific topics and the principles of scientific enquiry — with positive results.
EEF and the trust will be accepting applications from interested organizations through April 2018.