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Evaluating the impact of the CREST Silver Award

Thanks to funding from the Education Endowment Foundation we will be working with NatCen, Britain’s largest independent social research agency, to evaluate the impact of the awards in terms of improving students’ attainment and progression in STEM subjects and develop students’ transferable skills.

We have the opportunity for up to 200 schools in England to participate in a randomised control trial of the Silver CREST Awards in 2017/18 with a group of year 9 students.

Half the participating schools will be randomly assigned, by computer, to the ‘treatment’ group and will deliver the CREST Silver Award in 2017-18 and the other half will be allocated to the ‘control’ group.

Participating schools will receive £600 and will make an important contribution to understanding how independent, hands-on project work can impact student achievement and progression in STEM subjects.

This research follows on from the 2016 ‘Quantifying CREST’ report which found that students who took CREST:

  • achieved half a grade higher on their best science GCSE result
  • were more likely to continue with STEM education

The report also indicated that students eligible for Free Schools Meals saw a larger increase in their best GCSE science score.

To find out more contact us at

Evaluation timeline

February – June 2017

Sign a Memorandum of Understanding to confirm understanding and consent to the random allocation process, and commitment to whether assigned to the treatment or control group.

Provide a named CREST Award Educator (e.g. teacher or technician) that will act as the main point of contact, and a named member of the senior management team as a secondary contact.  

July 2017

Distribute parental opt-out letters to ensure parents of all incoming Year 9 pupils receive a letter enabling them to opt-out of the trial.

October 2017

Finalise names of students that will participate in the trial, provide school and pupil level information.

Complete CREST Award Educators beginning of trial survey (in both treatment and control schools)

Complete Pupil beginning of trial survey  (in both treatment and control schools)

November 2017

Staff (at treatment and control schools) invited to take part in a beginning of trial telephone interview.

Schools will be informed of whether they have been allocated to the treatment or the control group. 

November 2017 – May 2018

CREST project work (treatment schools only): students complete 30+ hours of STEM project work for a CREST Silver Award, either within the curriculum or in a club situation.  

Control schools: continue to teach as normal with no CREST projects.

May – July 2018

All schools (control and treatment) administer end of trial science tests and attitude questionnaires to participating Year 9 pupils.

Schools in the treatment group invited to take part in a visit from the research team.

Complete CREST Award Educator end of trial survey (in both treatment and control schools). 

Academic year 2018/19

Control schools can offer the CREST Silver Award to the next cohort of Year 9 pupils if they would like to.


To participate in the evaluation project:

  • Schools must be secondary schools in England
  • Schools must not have participated in CREST Bronze, Silver or Gold in the academic year prior to the trial (i.e. in 2016/17), although they may have participated in CREST Discovery
  • Participating schools must be able to commit to selecting a group of year 9 pupils in the academic year 2017/18 to take part in the trial
  • Groups must be minimum of 6 and a maximum of 35 pupils
  • At least 25% of the selected pupil group must be everFSM students
  • Schools must not be in special measures
  • The lead teacher or educator for the trial must not have participated in CREST Bronze, Silver or Gold in the past
  • Schools must agree not to take part in CREST with the same pupils if they are assigned to the control condition. 

Use of Data

All data, including pupils’ test responses and any other pupil data, will be treated with the strictest confidence. Pupil assessments will be administered by NatCen Social Research. Named data will be matched with the National Pupil Database and shared with NatCen, the BSA, the Department for Education, EEF, EEF’s data contractor FFT Education and in an anonymised form to the UK Data Archive. No individual school or pupil will be identified in any report arising from the research.