Evaluation of RAiSE: Raising Aspirations in Science Education

Raising Aspirations in Science Education (RAiSE) was developed to empower primary school practitioners with the confidence, skills, and networks to develop and deliver engaging and motivating STEM learning experiences. RAiSE is a programme of The Wood Foundation, Education Scotland, Scottish Government and participating local authorities. The programme was established in 2016 as a pilot programme and is now being extended nationally. It has engaged half of Scotland’s local authorities to date. It aims to raise attainment and achievement in primary science and STEM, and tackle inequity and inequality in learners' experiences and outcomes.

A team from the Robert Owen Centre was commissioned to evaluate the pilot for the programme and a mixed method, case study approach was adopted that focused on eight pilot local authorities. This adopted a range of quantitative and qualitative methods and primary and secondary data across each of the local authorities to address the evaluation research questions.

The evaluation of the pilot highlights the success of the RAiSE model across all of the pilot local authorities. The network of RAiSE Primary Science Development Officers (PSDOs) supported by the National Education Officer for Primary Science, worked with local authority officers and teachers to develop bespoke plans to reflect local context, conditions and priorities. RAiSE built the capacity and confidence of practitioners to implement innovative STEM learning approaches, supported the embedding of STEM within the curriculum and engaged pupils with STEM.

Through engaging with RAiSE, 71% of teachers were more confident in science pedagogy since engaging with RAiSE, 87% of teachers said the programme had allowed pupils to experience challenge in their learning and 77% reported that pupil aspirations had increased.

There was also an increase in parental and community engagement, building STEM capital. This was particularly evident where RAiSE facilitated community STEM events and fairs, often using schools as hubs and involving partner organisations. A fundamental role of PSDOs has been the development and enhancement of partnerships and networks. Indeed, the programme helped created strong networks and partnerships including teachers, communities, colleges, universities and businesses that enhanced STEM education in each of the local authorities.

The articulation of RAiSE with the wider policy landscape, including the STEM Education and Training Strategy and the Developing the Young Workforce Programme was evident and this helped align school and local authority developments to national initiatives. This policy networking has also meant that lessons from the RAiSE programme have also informed STEM strategies at local authority and national levels.

The role of the PSDO as an anchor for STEM learning activity regionally and the flexibility of the approach to suit local needs and context were key to the programme’s success.

PI and Co-Is

PI - Kevin Lowden - University of Glasgow, School of Education

Co-I - Stuart Hall - University of Glasgow, School of Education

Deja Collier - University of Glasgow, School of Education

Start and End Date

1 February 2017 - 30 November 2018

Funder and Funding Amount

The Wood Foundation: £50,562

Project News

The Wood Foundation’s RAiSE website (https://www.thewoodfoundation.org.uk/developing-young-people-in-scotland/raise/) notes that:

The external evaluation of RAiSE found the work of the PSDOs is having a positive impact on the achievement of educational priorities. The report highlights RAiSE is delivering highly-effective professional learning and creating system and educational change which increases attainment.

The evaluation findings led to a national invitation for local authorities across Scotland to embark upon the RAiSE programme on a rolling basis. There have been 16 local authorities involved with the programme to date.