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ASPIRES project reports. Image: Julie Moote for UCL Institute of Education

ASPIRES Report: Young people's science and career aspirations, age 10-19

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‘Persistent, low science aspirations are not due to lack of interest in science’ 

The ASPIRES 2 report summarises the findings from the second half of our ten-year study into young people's science and career aspirations. ASPIRES 2 continued to study the same cohort of students from age 14-19 with a particular focus on exploring what factors relate to students’ aspirations and subject choices.

February 2020.


Supporting increased and wider participation in STEM (PDF, 0.8 MB)

STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) skills are widely recognised as being highly important for national economic competitiveness, greater upward social mobility and active citizenship. There is a strongly held belief that our future economy and workforce are facing a STEM skills gap and we need more young people to continue with STEM post-16, from more diverse backgrounds, to fill it.

This policy briefing summarises the key findings from our ASPIRES 2 report. 

February 2020.


ASPIRES 2 Women in Physics Policy Briefing (PDF, 0.5 MB)

Participation in post-compulsory physics remains low and unchanged, with the proportion of students studying physics at A level in the UK noticeably lower than those studying other sciences. Not only do a minority of students tend to see physics as ‘for me’, but the field of physics itself also shapes and normalises its masculine, elite status.

This policy briefing summarises some of the ASPIRES 2 project’s academic papers on the topic of women in physics.

August 2018.


ASPIRES 2 Triple Science Policy Briefing (PDF, 0.4 MB)

Selective practices around access to, and participation in, Triple Science perpetuate social inequalities and could be narrowing participation in post-16 STEM.

This policy briefing uses data from over 13,000 Year 11 students, and interviews with 70 of these students, to review the provision of current practice of stratifying science options at GCSE.

August 2018.


ASPIRES 2 Project Spotlight: Year 11 Students' Views on Careers Education and Work Experience

'Careers education is not just 'patchy', it is patterned in terms of social inequalities'

This report uses survey data from over 13,000 Year 11 students, and interviews with 70 of these students, to review the provision of careers education and work experience in England. 

February 2016.


Understanding Young People's Science Aspirations

How students form ideas about 'becoming a scientist'

Our 'ASPIRES Book' offers an explanation of how some young people do become dedicated to follow science, and what might be done to increase and broaden this population. We explore the need for increased scientific literacy among citizens to enable them to exercise agency and lead a life underpinned by informed decisions about their own health and their environment.

August 2016.


ASPIRES Report: Young people's science and career aspirations age 10-14 (PDF, 1.3 MB)

'Most young people like science - but do not aspire to science careers'

The ASPIRES report summarises the findings from the first half of our ten-year study into young people's science and career aspirations. The ASPIRES research continues to study the same cohort of students from age 14 to 23. 

December 2013.


What shapes children's science and career aspirations age 10-13?

ASPIRES Interim Research Report 'Young people are not generally being put off careers in science because they find science dull or because of negative views of scientists'

A summary report on the key findings from the first two data collections of the ASPIRES Project.

March 2013.


Ten Science Facts & Fictions: The Case for Early Education about STEM Careers

'More needs to be done to make science a 'conceivable' career option for a broader range of pupils'

Recommendations for the pressing need to integrate an awareness of STEM careers into the mainstream school curriculum.

January 2012.