CREST Award Scheme Expansion Programme in England
To increase the quality and quantity of engagement with STEM among students in maintained schools using the CREST framework.
1. Raise the number of KS3 and KS4 students engaged in CREST in England
2. Maintain the proportion of girls engaged in CREST at 50% or more
3. Raise the proportion of schools in disadvantaged areas (schools with above average numbers of pupils eligible for Free School Meals)
4. Improve CREST’s long-term sustainability by developing new strands, partnerships, resources and impact areas
Summary of activity:
• Support the CREST Coordinator network in England to meet the project objectives at a local level
• Target 250+ schools in disadvantaged areas in England
• Produce resources aimed at teachers – 7 school-based case studies, teachers booklet, STEM project ideas booklets
• Work with a range of STEM Enhancement and Enrichment providers to accredit their activities/schemes through the CREST Award scheme
• Set up a CREST Youth Panel and Alumni Network
• Commission market research – HE STEM Admissions Tutors, Rejector Schools and Head Teachers
• Commission a two year independent evaluation project (2009-11)
• Pilot a CREST Teacher Ambassador Network
Susie Fisher, Roger Titford and Dr. Ben Gammon were commissioned in November 2009 to evaluate the first two years of the CREST Expansion Project. The evaluation goals are summarised below:
• Has CREST been delivered to the target audience?
• What has been the impact on students and teachers?
• What can be learned about delivery and sustainability for the future
development of CREST?
What went well:
- 35% growth in student participation during 2009-11
- Maintenance of a balanced gender ratio
- 203 ‘target schools’ (mostly schools new to CREST and in challenging circumstances) have been provided with tailored support
- New partnerships with: OPAL (Open Air Laboratory network), Science Museum, FIRST Lego League, Maths in Motion, WISE, RAF work experience placements.
What was learned:
- We do not restrict participation in the target schools to students who are eligible for Free School Meals only as it would be damaging to the scheme if only certain students were allowed to participate. Our independent evaluation found that teachers did not welcome the idea of targeting specific students. They preferred to keep STEM enrichment open for all students.
- Commissioning the independent evaluators in the first year of the project helped to identify issues early in the expansion scheme. Qualitative interviewing, albeit with small samples, proved surprisingly accurate in identifying core issues and signalling problems which were fundamental to the expansion project throughout, e.g. unwillingness on the part of teachers to target one group of students in preference to another.