What influences attainment at age 16?

The Department for Education has published a new report analysing the attainment and behavioural outcomes at age 16 of children in the Effective Pre-school, Primary and Secondary Education (EPPSE) study.

EPPSE is a large-scale, longitudinal study of the progress and development of children from preschool to post-compulsory education. The study ran from 1997 to 2014, following nearly 2,600 children in six local authorities from early childhood to age 16.

The report is substantial. Focusing on academic attainment as measured by GCSE results, the key findings include:

There is an enduring effect of preschool. Attendance, quality, and duration at preschool all show long-term effects on academic outcomes.

  • The early years home learning environment has a long-term impact, and a stronger impact on all measures of GCSE results than free school meal eligibility.
  • Family income, measured in KS1 (age 5-7), showed large effects on the likelihood of achieving 5 A*-C grades at GCSE.
  • Parents’ highest qualification level (compared to no qualifications) was the strongest predictor of better attainment in GCSE English and achieving 5 A*-C including English and maths.
  • Ethnicity was a relatively strong predictor of total GCSE score and maths grades.
  • Pupils who had attended a more academically effective primary school for maths went on to gain better GCSE maths grades.
  • Secondary school quality and pupils’ experiences of school also influenced outcomes.
  • After taking into account other influences, girls and Autumn-born children generally scored higher at GCSE.

Source: Students’ Educational and Developmental Outcomes at Age 16 (2014), Department for Education.

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