Bright pupils more likely to fall behind if from poor background, study finds

The Guardian is reporting new research that suggests bright students from disadvantaged backgrounds are falling behind after their GCSEs and are barely half as likely to achieve three A-levels as their better-off peers…

…The report by Oxford University’s department of education found that just 35% of disadvantaged students (distinguished by their being on free school meals) who were identified as highly able at the age of 11 – on grounds that they gained level 5 or above in their end-of-primary-school national tests – went on to get three A-levels compared with 60% of their wealthier counterparts.

Only 33% of the disadvantaged group took one or more A-levels in the so-called “facilitating subjects” favoured by universities, such as maths, English, the sciences, humanities and modern languages, compared with 58% of their better-advantaged peers.

The research paints a bleak picture of the disparity between the most privileged and the most disadvantaged, but it identifies a number of factors that significantly improve poorer students’ chances of gaining good A-levels.

If they go on trips to museums and galleries, and read for pleasure in a supportive home-learning environment, their chances improve markedly. And if they develop a habit of doing daily homework before and during their GCSEs, they are nine times as likely to get three A-levels.

The report – called Subject to Background, by Pam Sammons, Katalin Toth and Kathy Sylva – draws on data from more than 3,000 young people who have been tracked through school since the age of three for the Effective Pre-School, Primary and Secondary Education (EPPSE) project. It was commissioned by the Sutton Trust, an education charity that attempts to address educational inequality…

More at: Bright pupils more likely to fall behind if from poor background, study finds

 

The Sutton Trust reports that the researchers identified a number of factors that made it significantly more likely that the bright disadvantaged students would attain 3 A-levels including:

  • Having benefited from pre-school education, especially of higher quality
  • Having had enrichment and supportive home learning environments from a young age, including reading books and going on educational outings during the early years of secondary school
  • Having been to an outstanding secondary school (as rated by Ofsted) and one where there were good relationships of trust between teachers and students, with regular feedback
  • Having spent more time doing daily homework on a regular basis before and during their GCSEs

The researchers also recommend that bright, poor students should receive “enrichment” vouchers, funded through the pupil premium, to help with educational trips, reading for pleasure and studies outside the classroom…

Read the full report from the Sutton Trust at: Subject to Background: What promotes better achievement for bright but disadvantaged students?

 

Your thoughts on these findings from the Sutton Trust research, and the recommendations for improving the prospects of bright disadvantaged students? Please share in the comments or via Twitter…

 

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Comments

  1. andylutwyche

    SchoolsImprove Since A levels are choices made by the pupil (with or without teacher recommendation) what do they suggest we do about this?

  2. andylutwyche

    SchoolsImprove Is there a saturation point regarding research? Every day it seems there’s a “new focus” meaning there’s no focus at all

  3. andylutwyche

    rachelrossiter SchoolsImprove Quite! This stuff isn’t rocket science but also impossible to impose so what do researchers suggest we do?

  4. radiofourfan

    andylutwyche SchoolsImprove It’s a political issue-need a good comprehensive in every locality, to avoid advantage for those with ‘choice’

  5. brighton118

    SchoolsImprove – Suggestion of vouchers 4 museum/theatre trips interesting. They will need to be close by/ need someone to take them ?

  6. getcarter66

    SchoolsImprove 35%Why do they do this? What about young people who leave education with nothing-Every child deserves to be noticed #edchat

  7. This is not news. It has been the case throughout my long career. We need to do something different.  It’s attitudes, thinking and behaviours that make the difference between those people who succeed and those who don’t in any life, learning and field of endeavour. Knowledge and skills are important but they don’t make the difference. 1. Schools recognising that telling young people 5/8 A-Cs is good for them is not enough – goals + passion = motivation and determination. 2. All teachers having high expectations – this is not about systems – it’s about attitude – beyond the subject – educating whole young people. 3. Systematically – Empower, Enable and Equip young people to raise their aspirations and develop the Attitudes, Thinking and Behaviours to succeed. Many young people develop these from their environment – pick them up by ‘osmosis’ and informal coaching from the adults around them. What if you’re not in an environment that enables you to develop these? We have a duty to create that environment in school – appropriate, rigorous complementary personal development curriculum and an ethos consistent with this. One challenge is that personal development is a process of facilitating learning rather than teacher – different process. There are elements of teaching but it’s all about outcomes. It’s about transforming attitudes, thinking and behaviours – systematically equipping young people to succeed    http://beverleyburton.com/equipped-2-succeed/

  8. Nor_edu

    SchoolsImprove andylutwyche rachelrossiter radiofourfan focus on 3 A levs in fac subs is limited measure of success- apprenticeships?VE?

  9. Nor_edu

    SchoolsImprove andylutwyche rachelrossiter radiofourfan focus on 3 A levs in fac subs is limited measure of success- apprenticeships?VE?

  10. Nor_edu

    SchoolsImprove andylutwyche rachelrossiter radiofourfan focus on 3 A levs in fac subs is limited measure of success- apprenticeships?VE?

  11. Janet2

    Some of the factors listed (supportive home background, reading books) are outside the control of schools.  Schools can encourage children to read books but are powerless if pupils don’t.  Schools can only provide a few educational trips (and these sometimes require voluntary contributions) but this can’t compensate for the fact that advantaged children are likely to have more such trips within their families.

    Poverty impacts.  Most parents, poor or not, want their children to do the best they can.  But circumstances work against this: long working hours, money worries, impermanent housing, ill health, family breakdown etc.  These things, of course, aren’t confined to the officially ‘disadvantaged’ but are made worse by poverty.

  12. colinsparkbridg

    MaryMyatt SchoolsImprove This is scarcely surprising news ;discrimination by income is rife and always has been!

  13. radiofourfan

    Nor_edu SchoolsImprove andylutwyche rachelrossiter Yes good schools will be offering broader range of acad. & vocational to suit indiv

  14. Janet2 Schools make a difference. Some of the most successful people in all fields of endeavour have come from poverty – we can systematically enable our young people to develop those aspiration, attitudes, thinking and behaviours.

  15. Janet2

    Beverley Burton Janet2 I fully agree that schools CAN and DO make a difference.  But they can’t be expected to reverse all external factors.  Not all pupils are what the OECD calls ‘resilient’ (ie those pupils who do better than would be expected given their socio-economic background).  The OECD found that an average of 33% of pupils were ‘resilient’ across OECD countries.  Some countries did much better than this, of course (eg some Pacific Rim countries where the culture is different to that in England).  But that figure suggests 66% are not ‘resilient’.

    That’s not to say schools shouldn’t do their best to ensure pupils achieve but they should not be judged when many of the factors are outside their control.

  16. Janet2

    Beverley Burton Janet2 I fully agree that schools CAN and DO make a difference.  But they can’t be expected to reverse all external factors.  Not all pupils are what the OECD calls ‘resilient’ (ie those pupils who do better than would be expected given their socio-economic background).  The OECD found that an average of 33% of pupils were ‘resilient’ across OECD countries.  Some countries did much better than this, of course (eg some Pacific Rim countries where the culture is different to that in England).  But that figure suggests 66% are not ‘resilient’.

    That’s not to say schools shouldn’t do their best to ensure pupils achieve but they should not be judged when many of the factors are outside their control.

  17. BehaviourA

    Support not necessarily directed in right ways – agree extra curricular activities help but hard to make up for a language and experience rich environment 24/7 from birth. Social situation, aspiration etc all important. The idea of ‘getting ideas above your station’ etc can be hard to ignore in some ‘working class’ families (I include my own!)

  18. Janet2 Beverley Burton There are so many ways we can do more to equip our young people to succeed – background need not be a defining factor. Critical attitudes, thinking and behaviours can be developed – including persistence and resilience with programmes based on equipped2succeed framework. Be interested in your views?

  19. 380granadina

    SchoolsImprove I don’t think we needed a study to prove this. Teachers have known this for years! What can we do to solve this problem?

  20. 380granadina

    SchoolsImprove I don’t think we needed a study to prove this. Teachers have known this for years! What can we do to solve this problem?

  21. JoetheBaron

    SchoolsImprove It’s to do with expectations. Poorer students are expected to take easier subjects because they’re told they can’t!

  22. JoetheBaron

    SchoolsImprove It’s to do with expectations. Poorer students are expected to take easier subjects because they’re told they can’t!

  23. Janet2

    Beverley Burton Janet2 You’re right that background needn’t be a defining factor.  But, as I said, schools can only do so much.  Telling a child to ‘manage relationships’ sounds hollow if the child is being neglected; telling them to ‘be passionate’ or ‘positive’ is likely to fall flat when the child is a full-time carer.  Telling them to ‘set goals’ is unlikely to have much effect on the child whose parents are mired in financial problems and the long-term plans stretch only as far as the end of the week when the payday loan falls due. 

    Don’t misunderstand me – I’m not saying the equipped2succeed framework is no good.  I would have used them when I was teaching (but perhaps not all at once).  But I know that for several of my pupils  they would have sounded hollow.  My goal was to keep them in school in a safe, consistent environment for as long as possible and persuade them that taking exams might be beneficial (although today their results would have been damned as GCSE passes which were not ‘good’, in which case they’d have thought I was just conning them).

  24. LeoToAquarius

    andylutwyche sophiehazelpop SchoolsImprove There are strands of research, it’s rare to read articles that explain them clear & simply.

  25. LeoToAquarius

    andylutwyche sophiehazelpop SchoolsImprove There are strands of research, it’s rare to read articles that explain them clear & simply.

  26. andylutwyche

    LeoToAquarius sophiehazelpop SchoolsImprove I don’t doubt that; trouble is that there are so many bits of research they all get swamped

  27. LeoToAquarius

    andylutwyche sophiehazelpop SchoolsImprove Well which area do you want a summary of I think I could help?

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