The British Science Association has today published its latest CREST Awards impact report, revealing the ways in which the charity’s flagship education programme has boosted science engagement opportunities for students, teachers and employers across the UK during the 2021/22 academic year.

CREST provides enrichment activities to inspire, engage and connect young people aged 5-19 across the UK with science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) subjects.

Through statistics and the voices of students, teachers and employers, the 2021/22 impact report explores how CREST:

  • raised the STEM aspirations of more than 56,000 children and young people across the UK, with a focus on those most often underrepresented in science
  • helped educators respond to the challenges of embedding hands-on practical learning in the science curriculum, against a backdrop of increased financial, time and resource pressures
  • provided employers with unique opportunities to inspire tomorrow’s scientists, technologists, engineers and mathematicians.

CREST Awards provide a valuable insight into what science is really like; pupils have to act like a real scientist as they research and explore their projects. It is a fantastic way to enjoy science and, at the same time, develop many important skills including problem solving, team working, practical, thinking, communication and presentation skills.

- Charlotte Dewhurst, science teacher, Saint Paul’s Catholic High School, Greater Manchester

Read our CREST Awards: Impact report 2021/22

Key findings

During the 2021/22 academic year, CREST participation rates soared. More than 56,000 students – double the previous academic year – across 1,129 UK schools submitted CREST Awards, completing more than half a million hours on STEM projects and activities.

CREST was particularly focused on students who experienced the greatest learning loss during the pandemic year, with three in five schools that ran CREST supporting high proportions of students from groups underrepresented in science.

Overcoming barriers to STEM engagement

The report demonstrates many of the ways CREST has helped young people, teachers and employers overcome barriers to STEM engagement in 2021/22.

For example, research shows that stereotypes about who scientists are and what they do are embedded by the age of seven. In 2021/22, 28,541 pupils aged 5-11 completed CREST Star and SuperStar projects, igniting a passion for science and challenging these stereotypes before they take hold.

In the 2021/22 academic year, 50% of CREST participants were girls. With women accounting for just 27% of the UK’s STEM workforce, the scheme provided girls with opportunities they might not otherwise have to discover a passion for science and raise their STEM aspirations.

Finally, we know that many schools face substantial barriers to supporting students who are most often underrepresented in science. In 2021/22, we were able to grow our network of teachers in schools in challenging circumstances to 1,500 members, providing a range of free activities, initiatives, resources and grants to help their students participate in CREST.

Download the report

How can you get involved?

If you’re a teacher or educator:

  • Consider introducing CREST Awards into science lessons or after-school STEM clubs – and, if you are already doing so, please help us spread the word!
  • Share our impact report with your Senior Management Teams and decision-makers to help embed hands-on practical science learning in your setting.
  • Join our network for teachers in schools in challenging circumstances, where you’ll benefit from a range of free activities, initiatives, resources and grants to help you participate in CREST.

If you’re interested in working with us to inspire tomorrow’s scientists, technologists, engineers and mathematicians:

  • Find out more about our current partners and the range of ways we work together.
  • Hear from Toby Hill about how his journey from Gold CREST Award recipient to trainee patent attorney at Mewburn Ellis, where he is now helping the next generation of students to discover a love of STEM through CREST.
  • Get in touch. Email Giorgio D’Agostaro, Development Manager: [email protected]