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Schools and Young People

Working to the second strand of our strategy 'inspiring young people' the Research Councils fund a variety of activities, resources and grant schemes. These are developed for teachers and others delivering Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths in schools as well as the arts, humanities and social sciences. RCUK resources are mainly aimed at those aged between 11 and 18 and cover the spectrum of research areas funded by the seven Research Councils we represent, from the medical and biological sciences to astronomy, physics, chemistry and engineering, social sciences, economics, environmental sciences and the arts and humanities.

RCUK Schools Policy Statement
RCUK also believe that working with schools can provide substantial benefits to a researcher in terms of enhancing their skills and continued professional development. The RCUK Schools Policy Statement sets out our expectations for researchers to engage young people with research.

RCUK Initiatives:

The Research Councils collectively support and fund a range of activities, resources and schemes to inspire young people by bringing researchers with schools and young people together.

RCUK School-University Partnerships Initiative: RCUK has invested over £1.7million in its School-University Partnerships Initiative. The three-year initiative aims to create structured and strategic mechanisms for HEIs to work in partnership with secondary schools and FE colleges. This partnership working will support researchers’ direct engagement with students and bring contemporary and inspirational research contexts into formal and informal learning to enhance and enrich the curriculum. Projects will last for 3 years and began on 1 January 2013.

Teacher CPD - Bringing Cutting Edge Science into the Classroom: RCUK’s Teacher CPD programme is designed to help secondary school teachers deliver some of the more challenging aspects of the curriculum in a way that captures and retains the interest of their pupils. It is also designed to support teachers’ development of specialist knowledge and to facilitate links between teachers and contemporary research.

Researcher Career Case Studies: Aimed at young people, parents and teachers, RCUK Careers in Research hosts an online suite of career case studies which provide an insight about life as a researcher and the different career paths which researchers’ take. The case studies feature researchers from all seven Research Councils and cover a broad range of disciplines. Schoolscience hosts all of the Research Councils online schools resources and is sponsored by Research Councils UK. It is hosted by the Association for Science Education (ASE). Social science resources are also available at

Nuffield Research Placements: Nuffield Research Placements provide over 1000 students each year with the opportunity to work alongside professional scientists, technologists, engineers and mathematicians. Nuffield Research Placements need more researchers to get involved and host students during the summer. If you are able to help please contact Sophie Robinson:

National Science + Engineering Competition: RCUK sponsors the Best Use of Research prize at the National Science and Engineering Competition, the finals of which are held at the Big Bang Fair. RCUK also organises visits to one of the world-leading research facilities such as the Roque de Los Muchachos Observatory (La Palma) and CERN (Geneva) for the winners of the UK Young Scientist of the Year and UK Young Engineer of the Year awards.

National STEM Centre – eLibrary: The Research Councils have been working to include all their resources on the National STEM Centre’s eLibrary. The National STEM Centre works with partner organisations to facilitate collaboration that improves STEM education. The eLibrary collections feature both contemporary materials, including print, multimedia and practical activities, and archive resources from recent decades.

Past RCUK Initiatives

Planet Under Pressure Youth Voice Project : The Planet under Pressure 2012 conference focused on solutions to the global sustainability challenge. It aimed to provide scientific leadership towards the 2012 UN Rio +20 conference and identify opportunities for enhanced partnerships between research, policy, industry and the public. The University of East Anglia, the British Science Association, Research Councils UK and Sciencewise Expert Resource Centre developed the Youth Voice Project to ensure the perspective and voice of young people was presented at the conference, and supported 12 young people prepare and present a speech at the opening ceremony of the Planet under Pressure.

RCUK Publications:

Engaging Young People with Cutting Edge Research: A guide for researchers and teachers: A brochure providing helpful signposts and opportunities to both researchers and teachers on how to get started working together. This will help to inspire the next generation of researchers whilst supporting teachers in the classroom and allowing researchers to develop their public engagement talents and transferrable skills. Some activities referenced in this brochure may have changed since being published. Please contact the PER team with any queries.

Resources for Schools: A brochure detailing Research Councils UK classroom resources for teachers and their students. RCUK has a number of schemes and resources that can bring exciting contemporary research into your classroom. This brochure contains details of all our schools resources covering research across all the subject disciplines. Some activities referenced in this brochure may have changed since being published. Please contact the PER team with any queries.

Individual Research Council Initiatives:

Each Research Council has its own range of activities and schemes. Some Research Councils also offer resources for primary school age students. Some Research Councils have a schools section on their website with further details. Please use the links below to find out more.


Other Initiatives:

CREST: The British Science Association's CREST is a nationally recognised accreditation scheme for project work in the fields of science, technology, engineering and maths. Aimed at students aged 11-19, CREST awards encourage students to develop their scientific curiosity, problem-solving and communication skills.

STEM Ambassadors: The STEM Ambassadors is a volunteer role model programme, linking those with expertise and passion for STEM subjects (science, engineering, technology and maths) with young people across the country.

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