Research Schools Network

Tackling underachievement in maths and science

Young people from disadvantaged backgrounds are underachieving at school, particularly in maths and science. Without these core skills, they’re missing out on qualifications and a range of careers. We know that what happens in the classroom makes the biggest difference to pupil outcomes. Improving teaching generally costs less and leads to greater improvements than structural changes to the educational system. That’s why we supported the Education Endowment Foundation (EEF), a charity dedicated to breaking the link between family income and educational achievement. EEFplays a pivotal role in supporting teachers to use the most effective teaching methods in the classroom, based on the best available evidence.

  • We awarded £127,000 to EEF to get more schools using evidence-based teaching practices in maths and science.
  • EEF estimates that the project will benefit more than 1,200 teachers and 160,000 students.

About the project

In January 2018, we awarded match funding of up to £127,000 to EEF to get more schools using evidence-based teaching practices in maths and science. EEF delivered support through its Research Schools Network, which was designed to share evidence-based practice and bring research closer to schools. Research Schools work with primary and secondary schools in their areas to help them make better use of evidence to inform their teaching through:

  • structured training, coaching and professional development for senior leaders and teachers on how to improve classroom practice
  • support to develop innovative ways of improving teaching and learning, and providing them with the expertise to evaluate their impact.


The project targeted schools with a high proportion of pupils on free school meals and low progress scores in maths and science. Five Research Schools delivered the maths programme to 91 schools in their networks. Seven Research Schools supported 98 schools in their networks to teach science effectively. Research Schools provided support across the school year to help embed positive change.   “The Research Schools Network provides an exciting opportunity to improve the teaching of maths and science at scale,’ says our previous Head of Research, Dr Christine Oliver. ‘Competency in these subjects can open doors to vocational training, higher education and a wide range of jobs, and this is particularly important for students from disadvantaged backgrounds.”

“Generating evidence of ‘what works’ can only get us so far. Ultimately, it doesn’t matter how great an educational idea or intervention is on paper; what really matters is how it manifests itself in the day-to-day world of schools. Through our partnership with the Kusuma Trust UK, the Research Schools Network will work with local schools to break down barriers and make sure that evidence from our guidance reports on maths and science has a real impact on classroom practice.”
Sir Kevan Collins, CEO, Education Endowment Foundation

More Success Stories

Geography: United Kingdom | Year: 2018,2019,2020

Education Endowment Foundation – Supporting students with SEND

We commissioned a review of the evidence on ‘what works’ in teaching children with special educational needs or disabilities (SEND).
Geography: United Kingdom | Year: 2012,2013,2014

Centre For Social Justice, Breakthrough Britain II

Is the UK education system failing disadvantaged young people? We funded research from the Centre for Social Justice to find answers and propose evidence-based solutions.
Access to Opportunity
Geography: United Kingdom | Year: 2015,2016,2017,2018,2019,2020

The Sutton Trust – Pathways to STEM

When Anurag and Soma settled in London, they began looking around the UK for ways to improve access to opportunity and education.