National survey of science attitudes and aspirations among pupils in England

What are the purposes and aims of the project?

This survey is part of the Young People’s Science and Career Aspirations: Age 14-19 project (ASPIRES2), which aims to find out more about students’ attitudes towards science, and to raise awareness of careers in science or careers that may be open to them if they study science. The research follows on from the ASPIRES project that took place from 2009-2013 and involved over 19,000 students aged 10-14. The research consisted of a large-scale survey conducted with students in Years 6, 8 and 9, as well as longitudinal repeat interviews with students and their parents. King’s College has been awarded funding to continue the project to explore the attitudes, aspirations and educational choices of students aged 14-19. You can find out more about ASPIRES2, as well as access a copy of the final ASPIRES report, here.

Who is sponsoring NFER to carry out this work?

NFER are carrying out this work on behalf of King’s College London.

How have schools been selected to take part?

A nationally representative sample of secondary schools in England has been randomly selected by NFER to take part. In addition some schools that were involved in the Year 9 ASPIRES survey have also been invited to participate.

Do schools have to take part?

Participation by schools is entirely voluntary. However, achieving the aims and goals of this project requires the support of schools.

What does taking part involve?

Taking part involves arranging for one or more mixed attainment classes, science sets or tutor group of Year 11 pupils to complete an online questionnaire during the period 15 September to 24 October 2014. In addition some of the pupils who helped with the Year 9 ASPIRES survey will also be invited to take part.

Pupils will be asked questions about their attitudes toward science, their interests and activities, attitudes of their family and friends, their strengths, their educational choices and plans and the kinds of careers they might want to pursue when they are older. The survey will take approximately 30-35 minutes to complete.

How will schools benefit from taking part?

In the spring term 2015 we will send schools aggregated and anonymised feedback on the pupils’ responses to the survey. In order to receive more comprehensive feedback schools are welcome to administer the survey to additional Year 11 pupils if they so wish.

In addition to school level feedback, a series of publications will also be made available throughout the project. These will be accessible via the internet and details of the website(s) will be sent to participating schools in due course. Further details about the project can be accessed via:

How will NFER use and protect the data collected?

Pupils’ responses will be treated with the strictest confidence and used for the purpose of this research study only. The responses will be collected online by NFER and the analysis of the findings will be carried out by King’s College London. Please also note that no individual school or pupil will be identified in any report arising from the research.

What are the outcomes of this research?

This study aims to explore the role and values of STEM careers in society and the factors that may encourage students to pursue science post-16. Findings from the research will contribute to ongoing efforts to engage more students in following careers in STEM, particularly girls. The findings will also be shared in anoymised format with various policy makers and professional and practitioner organisations in order to inform science education policy and practice.

Who can be contacted for more information?

Humaira Ishaq: 01753 637474,

Keren Beddow: 01753 637338,