BERA Public Engagement and Impact Award

The British Educational Research Association Public Engagement & Impact Award recognises the important impact of research and practice in the education community and celebrates significant educational research and its activities that have demonstrably engaged the public

The primary applicant must be a BERA member to apply.

Nominations are sought in respect of:

  1. individuals or teams whose educational research work has shown demonstrable public engagement and/or impact;
  2. practitioner(s) or policy-maker(s) whose activities are well grounded in educational research and have led to demonstrable public engagement and/or impact;
  3. persons whose activities have boosted public engagement with educational research and/or its impact, or whose efforts have increased recognition and support for education research in public policy.

For the purposes of this Award, ‘public engagement’ is broadly defined as activities that bring research and/or researchers and the public (or specific groups within the public) together. It is more than just disseminating research – effective public engagement is about two-way communication, with the researchers listening to and learning from participants or other stakeholders at different stages in the research process. Research Councils UK provide a helpful definition of public engagement – see
‘Impact’ is broadly defined as an effect on, change or benefit to the economy, society, culture, public policy or services, health, the environment or quality of life, beyond academia.  It includes, but is not limited to, an effect on, change or benefit to:

  • the activity, attitude, awareness, behaviour, capacity, opportunity, performance, policy,
  • practice, process or understanding; of an audience, beneficiary, community, constituency, organisation or individuals; in any Geographic location whether locally, regionally, nationally or internationally.

Nominations are scored by a BERA selection panel and are framed by the following criteria:

  • Relevance (e.g. to the Association’s purposes)
  • Clarity (e.g. of the case as set out)
  • Quality (e.g. of the work undertaken to achieve impact)
  • Significance (e.g. of the impact itself).

Prize Details 

Featured article in BERA’s magazine Research Intelligence
Your research presented as a BERA Blog


For 2019 we will be offering two prizes- one for individuals and one for research teams

The deadline to apply for 2019 is 27 September 2019

Apply now



The winner of the 2018 BERA Public Engagement and Impact award is The ASPIRES/ ASPIRES 2 and Enterprising Science team (UCL Institute of Education) for their impactful research on ‘science capital’ and educational inequalities.

The ASPIRES/ASPIRES 2 and Enterprising Science research projects team originated the concept of ‘science capital’, developed new understandings of what produces unequal patterns in science participation, and developed a teaching approach to improve science engagement. Their research has dramatically changed science education policy and practice both nationally and internationally, shifting understanding, policy and practice across government departments, national institutions, museums, science centres, and major science and engineering professional societies. The team’s work reflects their commitment to social justice, and demonstrates their ability to lead sustained improvement in broadening STEM aspirations, participation, and diversity based on strong conceptual, empirical research.

The impact of Professor Louise Archer and her team’s science capital work draws from two research projects; ASPIRES/ ASPIRES 2 and Enterprising Science. ASPIRES/ ASPIRES 2 constitute a 10-year longitudinal study, tracking a student cohort from age 10-19 to understand the influences of family, school, careers education, social identities and inequalities on science and career aspirations. ASPIRES/ ASPIRES 2 is a mixed methods study, comprising surveys with over 40,000 students and longitudinal interviews with 60 young people and 60 parents (tracked from age 10-19).

The research found that while over 70% of 10-13 year olds find science lessons interesting, this doesn’t translate into STEM aspirations. Additional findings include: stratification of KS4 science into ‘Double’ and ‘Triple Science’ may contribute to the STEM skills gap; careers education is patterned by existing social inequalities, and girls who take Physics are ‘exceptional’ in key ways, reflecting specific barriers to progression in the subject.  Enterprising Science used the concept of science capital to understand how young people from all backgrounds engage with science and how their engagement can be supported.

Subsequently, the Science Capital Teaching Approach was developed by Professor Archer and colleagues as a social justice approach to teaching the curriculum; improving students’ relationship to science and producing rewarding experiences for teachers. It relates science to students’ lives and challenges stereotypes about who can do science. Students who experience the approach record significantly increased levels of science capital, higher attainment, are more likely to aspire to STEM education/careers (from 16% to over 21.4%) and are more likely to see science as relevant to them (from 25% to 42%). Dramatic results occurred among disadvantaged communities with some teachers citing a 600% improvement in attainment among their lowest attaining students.

The judges also highly commended


Professor Stephen Gorard, Professor Vikki Boliver, Dr Beng Huat See and Dr Nadia Siddiqui (University of Durham) for their work on Assessing and addressing disadvantage in education





The winner of the 2017 BERA Public Engagement and Impact award was Dr Sue Sentance (King’s College London) for her work on removing the barriers to effective computing education.
She was nominated for her sustained and wide-ranging contribution to the advancement of computing education

Dr Sentance conceived and developed a model of professional learning for computing educators, developed and disseminated a new model of programming teaching built around collaborative working with teachers, promoted through a growing network of practitioners, and worked with key industry players, including Microsoft, to evaluate the potential of physical computing devices to develop motivated, creative learners. Previously, professional development in this area had commonly taken the form of short-lived, subject-focused workshops based on a deficit model and top-down approach. In contrast, the model Dr Sentance developed places emphasis on engaging teachers in research and in decision making and is built around peer-to-peer, face-to-face, and local community based learning.  As well as informing a national programme for the professional development of computer science teachers, the model has directly fed into the development of a nationwide research group in computer science education (CAS Research), the design and implementation of the BCS Certificate for Computer Science Teaching, and the project Teaching Inquiry in Computing Education through which teachers are supported to carry out small action research projects.

Working with Valentina Dagiene, founder of Bebras (an international computational thinking challenge running annually in 50 countries), Sue has also developed a two-dimensional categorisation for Bebras tasks which will be implemented by several countries this year. Google are supporting further development of this work. She has recently been awarded an EPSRC/Industrial CASE Studentship with Microsoft to work on the pedagogic potential of physical computing for the visually disabled.



The winners of the 2016 BERA Sage Public Impact Award were Dr Alice Bradbury and Dr Guy Roberts-Holmes (UCL-IoE)

They were nominated for their work in challenging the goals set out for Baseline Assessment for assessing and tracking the progress of 4-5 year olds within the primary system, which led to the subsequent withdrawal of the policy as announced by the DfE in April 2016.

Baseline Assessment, was part of the policy “Reforming assessment and accountability for primary schools” (DfE, 2014) and was designed to produce a ‘baseline’ figure from which four and five year old children’s progress across the primary years can be measured. According to a DfE report from 2016, BA was to be ‘the only measure used to assess the progress of children from entry (at age four to-five-years) to the end of KS2 (age 10-11), alongside an attainment floor standard of 85 per cent’ (DfE, 2014: 4). Although other measures could still be used to demonstrate progress to KS2 for children starting reception in the school year 2015/16, all schools were encouraged to use the new baseline assessment – and most did.

The research was carried out in the autumn term of 2015, using a mixed methods approach involving a nationwide survey and five case studies of Reception classes in primary schools. An online survey was distributed via the NUT and ATL e-mail databases using the Bristol Online Survey service, and was completed by 1,131 people.



The winner of the 2015 BERA Public Impact award was Professor Robin Alexander (universities of Cambridge and York) for his initiation and ten-year leadership of the Cambridge Primary Review and its successor the Cambridge Primary Review Trust. The Review remains the biggest, most comprehensive and most influential enquiry into English primary education for half a century.