The ASCENTS 1-2-1

ian abrahams

Prof. Ian Abrahams

In England, there is a growing awareness of the need to improve the attainment in, and attitudes towards, science among disadvantaged secondary school pupils. Led by Prof. Ian Abrahams, at the University of Roehampton, the ASCENTS 1-2-1 project is designed to support Y11 pupils (age 15–16) who are eligible for Pupil Premium by pairing them with an undergraduate STEM student mentor. The hour-long weekly mentoring sessions take place in school, under the direct supervision of a qualified teacher, throughout the final year of their compulsory science General Certificate of Secondary Education (GCSE) examinations course and will start in the Autumn term of the 2023/24 school year.

A small pilot version of the project produced a statistically significant increase in both Pupil Premium students’ mock and actual GCSE science results (Sharpe, Abrahams, & Fotou, 2018). Following that successful pilot, the EEF and the Wellcome Trust funded (£940k) a larger project involving five universities although this was halted, just before completion, due to the impact of Covid-19 on schools and the cancellation of traditional GCSE examinations. The report ASCENTS 121 support for science | EEF ( on what was achieved despite Covid-19 was extremely positive and so the Education Endowment Foundation (EEF) are now funding (£904k) an expanded project involving seven universities: Roehampton (lead), Anglia Ruskin, Hull, Lincoln, Liverpool, Northumbria, and Plymouth Marjon, each of whom will be recruiting local partner secondary schools. The impact of the project is being evaluated by an external organization – NatCen.

Sharpe, R., Abrahams, I., & Fotou, N. (2018). Does paired mentoring work? A study of the effectiveness and affective value of academically asymmetrical peer mentoring in supporting disadvantaged students in school science. Research in Science & Technological Education, 36(2), 205-225

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