top of page

Why is Orbyts needed?

UK science faces systemic diversity issues and shortages of science teachers. For example, the IoP report that post-16 physics is less than 20% girls, while those from the most deprived backgrounds are 3 times less likely to take A-level physics and 6 times less likely to get an A-grade than those from the least deprived backgrounds. One in seven UK schools do not have a physics teacher at all.

Screenshot 2022-09-28 at 17.19.34.png

Institute of Physics report on students in UK Physics Departments

Screenshot 2022-09-28 at 17.22.54.png

Institute of Physics report on students in UK Physics Departments

How does Orbyts work?

To address these problems, Orbyts creates partnerships between scientists and schools, empowering school students to conduct their own original science research projects, while providing them with relatable science role models who dispel harmful stereotypes about who can be a scientist.


Every research project is created bespoke for each school. Consequently, our projects cover a huge range of STEM and interdisciplinary subjects. In the last year alone, our partner schools and their scientists have undertaken research on topics from electrons to exoplanets, from spacecraft to Artificial Intelligence, from the largest structures that govern the cosmos to the molecular signatures that indicate climate change, and from the search for the potential presence of life on Mars to medical physics that can help to sustain life on Earth. The projects depend entirely on the expertise of the scientist that a school is paired with.

Our scientists visit their partner school on a weekly to fortnightly basis over several school terms to support the school's involvement with the research. The project begins with the professional scientist leading the research direction, but we aim to transition ownership of the science to the school students by the middle of all projects, ensuring that they choose the direction that the science takes and the avenues that they wish to explore. This sense of agency shifts student perceptions from science as a body of inherited knowledge to something that our next generation create and own themselves. Each year, our Orbyts programme closes with a conference, at which all of our partner schools present their discoveries.

To ensure that these opportunities go to those who need them most, we ask that any school that joins Orbyts ensures that at least 50% of students on an Orbyts project are girls and minority genders and at least 50% are pupil premium and SEND students.




What impact does Orbyts have?

The evidence shows that Orbyts is profoundly increasing post-16 science uptake by students from historically-excluded groups. The programme has also enabled more than 200 school students to author published scientific research. Our partner teachers report that Orbyts increases their desire to stay in teaching (increasing much-needed science teacher retention), improves their subject specialist knowledge and impacts the wider school community. 




400 (1 in 8) schools in England do not have a physics teacher - Institute of Physics

How does Orbyts make academia more equitable while supporting the leadership potential of scientists?

We work closely with our partner scientists, to support the production of a project that benefits their research and grows their leadership profile, whilst enabling school students to have a genuine impact on the field. Ensuring this school-researcher symbiosis and mutual-benefit is at the heart of our ethos and success and we have developed this over the delivery of 100s of bespoke research projects.

Beyond support for the project itself, Orbyts runs monthly training for researchers. These expert-led sessions embed evidence-based practice for inclusivity, teaching, communication and management within university research groups. Through these and the classroom experience, the next generation of UK lecturers and fellows are given the firmest foundations for pedagogy and management training, unavailable within a standard PhD programme. 

bottom of page