STEM Research & Innovation in Schools Framework

STEM Research & Innovation
in Schools Framework

At IRIS, we strongly believe that embedding a culture of research and innovation in schools is key to securing the UK’s leadership in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. We want every secondary student to experience research while in school and, therefore, we see it as our mission to create a framework to help schools achieve this. That is why, later this year, IRIS will be launching the national STEM Research and Innovation in Schools Framework (R&I Framework).


The R&I Framework brings together best practice from the education, research, and charity communities to enable school leaders to develop an effective whole school strategy to support science, technology, engineering and maths within their school.


The four key aspects to the framework are:

  • Enhancing the STEM curriculum – embedding authentic research opportunities both within the classroom and beyond. Allowing students to experience and take part in real science leading to the development of key skills, knowledge and character traits while providing opportunities for students not only to apply their learning but also develop a true appreciation for research and its role in STEM.
  • Preparing for the future – providing effective and embedded careers guidance for all students to allow them to understand the range of opportunities available to them in STEM regardless of ability. This includes raising awareness of the many routes into a STEM career, including T-Levels, apprenticeships and other vocational qualifications.
  • Community – working with the STEM industry and wider education community to offer young people a range of opportunities and experiences that cannot be provided by schools alone. This includes empowering students to use research to address issues within a local context.
  • Capturing talent & removing barriers – widening participation and capturing talent through proactively challenging established stereotypes and misconceptions in STEM, building science capital for all and creating a culture of openness and inclusivity in relation to STEM.


The R&I Framework has been written to complement existing school curricula and programmes rather than requiring teachers and school leaders to reinvent the wheel. We have ensured that the framework takes into account current educational policy and school performance indicators including Ofsted, statutory careers guidance and 14-to-18 qualification requirements.


The Framework and its support documents have been designed to act as reflective tools for teachers and school leaders, enabling them to steer the growth of research and innovation in all aspects of school life. Ultimately, this is about providing new and exciting opportunities for all students which will open up a world of limitless opportunities in STEM.


The benefits to students of carrying out authentic research are well documented and far-reaching, from developing skills and knowledge sought after by employers, growing science capital and helping to address the UK STEM skills gap to increasing confidence and enhancing classroom learning. The Institute for Research in Schools and our partners strongly believe that research in schools has the potential to transform lives – and the educational landscape.


IRIS supports schools in incorporating STEM research and innovation into their students’ experience, in order to capture and encourage young talent. We nurture the STEM research pipeline by promoting careers in research to all students, with an emphasis on inspiring those currently underrepresented.


To find out more about the STEM Research and Innovation in Schools Framework, or to get involved, please email

Complete this form to receive a copy of the R&I Framework when it launches in February 2022.

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