IOE - Faculty of Education and Society


IOE project announced as a finalist for prestigious ESRC impact prize

8 May 2019

The ASPIRES project, led by UCL Institute of Education (IOE) academic Professor Louise Archer, has been named as a finalist for the prestigious Celebrating Impact Prize 2019.

Pupils conducting a chemistry experiment. Photo: UCL Chemistry

The Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) Celebrating Impact Prize, now in its seventh year, is an annual opportunity to recognise and celebrate the success of ESRC-funded researchers in achieving and enabling outstanding economic or social impact from excellent social science research.

The two ASPIRES projects (ASPIRES, 2009-2014 and ASPIRES2, 2014-present) form a ten-year longitudinal study that tracks the same cohort of young people from age 10-19, in order to understand the changing influences of the family, school, careers education and social identities and inequalities on young people's science and career aspirations. 

The study found that a lack of interest in science is not the main reason behind low participation in science beyond age 16. It revealed that the majority of young people consistently report finding school science interesting, but only a small percentage (approximately 16%) aspire to a science career, a proportion that does not vary significantly from age 10 to 18.

The ASPIRES research has made significant impact on science education policy and influenced change in many organisations worldwide including the Science Museum Group, the Greater London Authority, and Education Scotland.

The finalists’ applications were reviewed by academics, engagement and knowledge exchange experts and research users, and shortlisted applicants were invited to an interview, along with non-academic supporters who helped describe the impact of the work. The ASPIRES team, along with other finalists, has been invited to an awards ceremony at the Royal Society in London on 9 July 2019 where the winners will be announced.

Professor Louise Archer said: “We are delighted to be finalists in the ESRC’s 2019 Celebrating Impact Prize. Over the past ten years of the ASPIRES project it has been fantastic to see the impact that our research into science and career aspirations has had in schools, science centres and museums and, as a research team committed to social justice and making a difference, it’s a privilege that our impact has been recognised in this way.”

Professor Louise Archer will deliver a Professorial Lecture at the IOE on Thursday 16 May, entitled ‘Identities, inequalities, education: sociology for social justice with youth in (and out) of school’.

Media contact

Rowan Walker, UCL Media Relations
T: +44 (0)20 3108 8515 / +44 (0)7769 141 006
E: rowan.walker@ucl.ac.uk