Today, we have released the first quantitative evidence that students who take part in Silver CREST Awards perform half a grade better on their best science GCSE result, compared to students who do not take part.

In the 30 years that the CREST Awards have been running, we've known that doing practical, creative science & technology projects have increased students' enjoyment and understanding of science, but now we're proud to share evidence of the CREST Awards scheme's impact on academic attainment, too.

The Pro Bono Economics report, conducted by a group of volunteer economists, has discovered that students who take part in CREST Awards get better GCSEs and are more likely to pick STEM AS Levels. The research also found that:

  • Students who took a Silver CREST achieved half a grade higher on their best science GCSE result compared to a statistically matched control group.
  • Students who undertake a CREST Silver Award are 21% more likely to take a STEM AS Level. 82% of Silver CREST students took a STEM AS Level, compared to 68% of a statistically matched control group.
  • Silver CREST students eligible for Free School Meals (FSM) saw a larger increase in their best science GCSE (two thirds of a grade) compared to a matched control group who were also eligible for FSM.
  • Students who were eligible for Free School Meals and took part in a CREST Silver Award were 38% more likely to take a STEM subject at AS Level than the matched control group.
  • Students who undertake Silver CREST have higher average GCSE grades compared to those who did not do a CREST Silver Award.
  • The sample for this analysis included 2.4 million Key Stage 4 students (of whom 3,800 took CREST Silver) and 1.0 million Key Stage 5 students (of whom 2,300 took a Silver CREST Award).
  • Half (50%) of students taking Silver CREST Awards were young women.

Imran Khan, Chief Executive of the British Science Association, said, "As a society, we need more and more young people who are curious about, and comfortable with, science – not least to ensure that we have a competitive economy and vibrant culture – so we hope that this report encourages more young people, teachers, schools, and parents to explore science and technology through the CREST Awards.

“I would like to take this opportunity to thank the whole team at Pro Bono Economics who have volunteered many hours of their own time to produce this report, and to make some excellent recommendations for the BSA and education sector to take forward for the future.”

Chair of the British Science Association, David Willetts, said “The BSA has been running the CREST Awards for almost 30 years. We have long-suspected that CREST is a great thing, of course – but we now have quantitative evidence to suggest that undertaking CREST Silver Award appears to have a positive impact on students' GCSE grades and the likelihood of them continuing on study STEM.

"That in itself is hugely significant. However, I am particularly interested in the finding that there is an even greater impact on students who are or have been eligible for free school meals."

Read the full report

Find out more about CREST Awards