Research & Innovation Framework

What students really think about STEM


The STEM Research & Innovation Framework is our guide to building a strong STEM culture in schools. The Framework brings together best practice from the education, research and charity communities to enable school leaders to develop an effective strategy to support science, technology, engineering and maths within their school.  


As part of the evaluation of the STEM Research & Innovation Framework, we recently surveyed over 2,800 year 9 students across 19 schools in England, asking them about all aspects of their STEM experience—from the curriculum to out-of-school activities to career aspirations. 

Students held positive views about STEM and doing well in related subjects at school was important to them. However, low numbers of students identified as a ‘science person’, enjoyed their lessons or felt empowered to use STEM to tackle real-world problems. Lacking that personal connection to STEM, few considered continuing with these subjects post-16 or pursuing a related career. The responses also confirmed persistent group-based disparities, with girls and students eligible for pupil premium tending to feel less personally connected to these subjects and career pathways. 


This data gives us a solid understanding of student attitudes towards STEM and helps us identify important challenges to tackle. Going forward, this will help us to develop our programmes and positively impact ever greater numbers of students. If we are truly going to change the culture in UK education, so that authentic research and innovation is part of every young person’s experience, IRIS itself will need to embrace innovation. That is exactly what we will be doing over the next five years. 


We will shortly be sharing more details about our future plans in the 2023 impact report. But for now, to find out more about the STEM Research & Innovation Framework, visit 


Our plan to help schools capture the imagination and talent of the next generation of scientists. 




IRIS projects support students and teachers, wherever they are on their research journey.


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