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The Determinants of Non-Cognitive and Cognitive Schooling Outcomes. Report to the Department of Children, Schools and Families

Elena  Meschi,  Anna  Vignoles,  August 2010
Paper No' CEESP04: | Full paper (pdf)
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Keywords: education; bullying

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Abstract:

The Centre for the Economics of Education was asked to investigate the factors that influence a range of children's academic and non-academic outcomes, including their enjoyment of school, whether they take unauthorised absence from school and whether they feel they are bullied. The study also investigated whether schools can influence these non-academic outcomes. The study makes use of the Longitudinal Study of Young People in England, which is a survey of young people in secondary school that collects information on bullying, truancy and many other factors in each child's life. The data is linked to information on each child's academic achievement, enabling this study to investigate the inter-relationship between a pupil's academic performance and non academic outcomes. Pupils who enjoy school more at age 14 have, perhaps unsurprisingly, higher academic achievement by age 16. Equally, children who have higher achievement at age 11 go on to enjoy school more at age 16 though this is a not a strong relationship. In other words enjoyment of school and academic achievement are clearly linked. Pupils who were bullied or who took unauthorised absence at age 14 had significantly lower educational achievement at GCSE. Pupils who experienced bullying at age 14 were also much more likely to experience bullying at age 16. Therefore early negative outcomes, such as being bullied, suggest the child is at risk of having later negative experiences at age 16. Conversely, pupils who participate in positive extra-curricular activities, such as clubs, were also found to have better academic achievement later in their schooling.

High achievers at school, i.e. pupils who do well academically at age 14, were also no more likely to be bullied at age 16 than other children. The report also investigated the impact of schools on some of these non-academic outcomes between 14-16 and found little evidence that schools currently have different impacts on pupil's enjoyment of school, nor whether they take unauthorised absence, nor their likelihood of being bullied. In other words, which school a pupil attends is likely to have small or no effect on their wider well-being. This does not mean that schools do not have the potential to impact on these factors but rather that currently there are not large differences across schools in these outcomes once socio-economic factors have been taken into account. The report concludes that non-academic factors, such as a pupil's enjoyment of school, are inextricably linked to pupils' academic achievement. We need to be aware of these relationships when considering policies to improve pupil achievement. The report also provides some useful risk indicators of future low pupil academic achievement. For example, some factors, such as being bullied or taking unauthorised absence, predict low future academic achievement. Again this can be used by schools and policy-makers to identify pupils at risk of low attainment. This research report was written before the new UK Government took office on 11 May 2010. As a result the content may not reflect current Government policy. This research will be of use to officials and ministers in helping to shape the future direction of policy and Departmental strategy.