Wellcome Trust: Evaluation of the Primary Science Campaign (2016-2021)
CFE Research has been commissioned by the Wellcome Trust to monitor and evaluate the impact of its UK-wide Primary Science Campaign. The campaign’s vision is that all pupils experience an exciting, inspiring and relevant science education at primary school that leaves them well-prepared to progress further in science, and well-informed about science in their everyday lives. A key part of the campaign is Explorify; this is a free resource of engaging, creative science activities for all primary school teachers. Our evaluation monitors both knowledge of and engagement with this resource, as well as the short and medium-term outcomes and impacts of participation at both the teacher and school-level.
Our quantitative method comprises a nationally representative sample of participating schools and matched comparison group each year. Surveys are disseminated to Science Leaders drawn from a stratified random sample (based on school characteristics including country, size and usage) and then shared with a sample of teachers. Our baseline survey involved a survey of 902 Science Leaders, 1,010 teachers and 1,906 pupils.
Qualitative research is also undertaken annually, including follow-up depth interviews with primary school leaders, Science Leaders and teachers as well as case study research including interviews with wider primary school staff, ethnographic observations of science lessons, and small group discussions with pupils.
Our baseline ‘State of the nation’ report was published in October 2017 to considerable public interest and summarises the position against which future findings will be compared to determine the overall impact of the campaign on improving the quality of science teaching. The report generated significant coverage in the media including articles in the Guardian, Independent and Times Educational Supplement newspapers, and prompted a response from DfE. Follow-up reports include our ‘Understanding the state of the nation report’ (which included an additional 50 depth interviews) and a follow-up short report into ‘What pupils think of science in primary schools’ (which included an additional wave of the pupil survey). Our follow-up report in Year 3 ‘Does Explorify support better primary science teaching?’ indicated that there has been little change in how primary science is led and taught across England since 2017 but does highlight the important role Explorify plays in supporting schools to teach science with observed impacts on both pupils and teachers. The accompanying case studies describe the impact on four schools.