account arrow-down-linearrow-down-small arrow-downarrow-download arrow-left-small arrow-leftarrow-link arrow-rightarrow-upaudio-less-volume audio-not-playing audio-plus-volume audio awarded books calendar close-modal closedate document education emailevent Facebookhamburger impact instagramjustice linkedin location-outline location opinion page phonepinterestplay pluspost preview project reports search-bigsearch-old search share startime twitterwelfare youtube zoom-in zoom-out

Measuring the impact of Twenty First Century Science

Researchers: Professor Robin Millar, OBE

Project overview

Measuring the impact of Twenty First Century Science

A survey by Professor Robin Millar of the University of York shows schools using the Twenty First Century Science GCSE curriculum are experiencing large increases in the number of students going on to study physics, chemistry or biology at AS-level compared to national averages.

Schools doing 21CS saw an increase in the number of students going on to study sciences at AS level.

Twenty First Century Science, designed in partnership with the University of York Science Education Group, was first offered to schools in 2006 as part of wider changes to GCSE science, following pilot trials. It aims to give all students an understanding of the science they experience in everyday life with additional courses for those contemplating further academic study.

Compared with previous years the schools in the survey saw an average increase of 37 per cent in the number of students taking AS-level biology, 25 per cent for chemistry, and 34 per cent for physics in 2008. Comparable figures from the Joint Council for Qualifications show national increases of 10 per cent in biology, 8 per cent in chemistry and 9.5 per cent in physics. Further independent research, commissioned by the Foundation, has confirmed the findings from Professor Millar’s report. We will be providing further information on this research shortly.

All students following the Twenty First Century Science curriculum study a core course which uses topical issues, such as climate change and genetic modification, to improve scientific literacy. They also choose between ‘additional science’, aimed at students considering A-level in science subjects, and ‘additional applied science’ focused on problem solving in workplace settings.

Latest on this project


  • Professor Robin Millar, OBE
    University of York

  • Director, Education
    Nuffield Foundation

Explore our projects

Search projects

We aim to improve people’s lives by funding research that informs social policy, primarily in Education, Welfare and Justice. We also fund student programmes that give young people skills and confidence in science and research.

We are an open, collaborative and engaged funder that offers more than money. Through connecting the individual projects we fund, we strengthen their collective impact and give voice to an overarching narrative.