Science and Disadvantage: Literature review tender

Science and Disadvantage: Literature review tender

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The Education Endowment Foundation (EEF) – in partnership with the Royal Society –– is 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. We are seeking proposals from research teams able to complete this review by July 2016.

This review is intended to inform a potential new funding round to evaluate projects with the greatest potential to improve the science attainment of disadvantaged pupils. This funding round would address a current lack of robust quantitative evidence about good science practice and interventions that may result in better attainment and increased post-compulsory participation in science, especially for disadvantaged students.


There is strong evidence of a link between economic disadvantage and attainment in science, according to Professor Stephen Gorard’s report for the Royal Society, SES and Science Education Report (June 2008).[1] And though the data suggest this link is no stronger in science than in other subjects, the report notes it ‘may be more persistent over time in science’. One of the main barriers to participation in science for disadvantaged young people is poor prior attainment. If approaches can be identified which successfully boost attainment, this barrier can be reduced.

The Royal Society’s report included this key recommendation:

Good practice and interventions, such as out-of-classroom activities, parental involvement and after-school clubs, are too rarely evaluated and communicated beyond the school involved. ...There is a need to examine, using rigorous experimental methods, the extent to which specified teaching methods in science and mathematics can result in post-compulsory participation in science, especially for students of low SES.

Review Purpose

The purpose of the review is to:

  1. identify the link between disadvantage and attainment and participation in science subjects;
  2. explore the cause of any attainment or participation gap with the aim of helping the EEF select projects that are likely to address these causes (e.g. parental expectations or pupil disaffection); and
  3. identify promising pedagogies, interventions and programmes, within school and/or involving families, that are likely to impact on the attainment and progression of disadvantaged students in science subjects.

Science is defined here to mean either combined science or the separate sciences, as taught in schools and colleges. We are not proposing to include computer science, as the Royal Society will be undertaking related work in this area; nor mathematics, which has been reviewed extensively.

The review should assess the strength of existing studies; identify international interventions which may be most suited to adapting or extending in this country; identify UK interventions that would benefit from further study; and identify and review where further research should be carried out if gaps are identified in the literature.


The deadline for proposals is 9 am on 4th March 2016. We are looking to appoint someone by 18th March to begin working straight away, submitting a draft to the EEF by the 8th July 2016. This is because, owing to funding timetables, we anticipate opening the new grant-funding round at the start of October so we need to frame the application criteria and guide applicants accordingly. We plan to publish the finished version of the review by the start of September.

Appointment process

If you would like to be considered to undertake the review, please send a brief outline describing your proposed approach. Please include an overview of your relevant skills and experience, and an estimated budget. Proposals should be no more than 1,000 words.

We will finalise the specification with the successful team. The final report will be peer reviewed. Report length and budget are open for discussion at this stage.

If you have any questions, please contact Emily Yeomans:

Please send your short proposal to: by 9 am on 4th March 2016.


SES and science education REPORT (Royal Society, June 2008). See