30 years ago, we founded the CREST Awards. The scheme was set up to address the variable quality of practical STEM work in UK secondary schools. By giving students the opportunity to do their own independent research project, we hoped this would not only inspire them to progress to STEM degrees and careers, but also equip them with the inquisitive, pragmatic and creative skills that would benefit them throughout their lives. 

In a CREST project, a student or team pursue the answer to a question, investigate a hypothesis that interests them, or opt for a design challenge. While it’s mainly student-led, a big part of CREST’s success is the teachers behind it. Without their drive to award pupils for their hard work and challenge them to consider a subject in a different way, CREST wouldn’t have reached the heights it has today.

Around 30,000 young people receive CREST Awards each year. Because of the importance of the teachers who help to promote and drive the scheme, our Education Team have recently relaunched the CREST Teacher Advisory Network (TAN). This network offers the opportunity for teachers who run CREST to feedback on their experiences and help develop the programme. They also benefit greatly from being able to communicate with one another, sharing advice and best practice. 

"CREST is the foundation of the partnership"

The CREST TAN held its first meeting this week (Tuesday 03 July) at Abingdon School, hosted by Jeremy Thomas, the Coordinator of the Abingdon Science Partnership (ASP)Each year, around 300 pupils from up to 10 schools gain CREST Awards through ASP. According to Jeremy, 'CREST is the foundation of the partnership'.  Picking out some of ASP’s favourite activities, he says that students love Brilliant BubblesSniffly Sneezes and Clever Camouflaged Creatures due to their simplicity and ease of delivery.  

CREST benefits pupils in many ways. It’s not just the ease of delivery that CREST TAN participants said they liked about it, but also the flexibility, particularly at the primary levels. Students all have different needs and accommodating for different needs can be tricky, especially for time and low- resource schools. The cross-curricular links that the resources offer can appeal to all students. Clever Camouflaged Creatures could be paired with art lessons to explore the children’s creativity and the wider curriculum. The network believes it’s vital to take advantage of this adaptability. 

A pupil undertaking a CREST Award: The CREST Teacher Advisory Network will help the scheme to evolve 

While there was much praise for the scheme, there was also discussion about how we can address the gaps. Diversity is a key issue for us. We want to engage a wider audience of teachers and students into CREST, so that all young people can have the same opportunities to engage with and enjoy science, regardless of background or circumstance. We’re optimistic about the future of CREST and overcoming any barriers, and we believe the CREST TAN will be a vital component of positively progressing the scheme.  

Our first meeting was a success and it was great to get people together from this network, all of whom have like-minded goals for STEM education. The range of suggestions about how the British Science Association could further improve the CREST system will be taken on board and addressed further. We want to make the process as easy for facilitators as possible, particularly with the transition to the new system that was introduced last year.   

Collaboration and knowledge sharing is often the best way to evolve and grow. The Education Team are excited to work with the CREST TAN going forward and are certain this will be a productive partnership. 

If you are interested in joining the Teacher Advisory Network, please email [email protected]