ASCENTS 121 Support for Science



In England there is a growing need to improve the lives of secondary school students who are defined as disadvantaged and to support these students in their attainment and attitudes to secondary school science. There is good evidence that tutoring is an effective way to improve attainment. However, due to high cost, disadvantaged pupils may struggle to access one to one tuition, while schools may find it difficult to fund tutoring interventions.

Building on a successful pilot project run by the University of Lincoln (Sharpe, Abrahams and Fotou, 2018) the ASCENTS 121 Support for Science intervention trains STEM undergraduates to provide one to one science tutoring to Year 11 pupils who are eligible for pupil premium. The University of Lincoln leads the programme and is supported by the University of Leeds, the University of Liverpool, UCL’s Institute of Education and the University of York. This trial is jointly funded by the Education Endowment Foundation and the Wellcome Trust, and is designed to rigorously evaluate the programme and ascertain whether it positively impacts pupils across a larger number of schools. The programme will be evaluated by a team from NatCen Social Research using a randomised control trial (RCT). The project will add to the evidence base on one to one tuition as there are currently few studies at secondary level or addressing subjects other than reading and maths. This is also testing an alternative and potentially scalable intervention model, which may usefully add to the tutoring landscape. The ASCENTS project begins in January 2018 and findings are due to be reported in Spring 2021.

Sharpe, R., Abrahams, I. and Fotou, N. 2018. Does paired mentoring work? A study of the effectiveness and affective value of academically asymmetrical peer mentoring in supporting disadvantaged students in school science. Research in Science & Technological Education, 36(2), 205-225, DOI: 10.1080/02635143.2017.1355783

Project website