Lack of school readiness predicts disadvantage: study

Tuesday, 28 May, 2024

Lack of school readiness predicts disadvantage: study

An analysis of student data has found that students struggling when they first start school are more likely to face disadvantage by the age of 16.

According to the study, which was led by University of Leeds with Lancaster University, children who were behind in their development at age four–five were almost three times as likely to have been out of education, employment or training at age 16–17.

The new study in the journal BMC Public Health has found a significant gap in GCSE results and Not in Education, Employment or Training (NEET) outcomes between those who were ready and unready for primary school. The research drew on data from more than 8000 Bradford young people whose records are linked as part of the Connected Bradford project.

“These findings tell us that there are clear, early indicators for children and young people being at risk of disadvantage in late adolescence. As schools routinely collect this data, the research could be used to kickstart early intervention in schools based on primary school readiness,” said lead author Dr Matthew Warburton, Research Officer at Leeds’ School of Psychology.

The research found that 11% of children who were not school ready went on to be NEET at 16–17, compared to just 4% of children who were school ready.

This early disadvantage also predicted achievement at GCSE level. Of children who were assessed as not school ready, 44% achieved GCSEs at level 2 (grade 4 or above) in English, maths and five subjects overall, where 77% of those school ready achieved these results.

The research team, which also included academics from Lancaster University and the Bradford Institute for Health Research, said this shows a clear need for early intervention by schools to reduce disadvantage in later life.

This echoes the message from a series of N8 Child of the North and Centre for Young Lives reports on the need to put children and young people first.

Senior author Dr Amy Atkinson, Lecturer in the Department of Psychology at Lancaster University, said: “Data from the Early Years Foundation Stage Profile is readily available for millions of children and young people in England. This information could, and should, be used to identify pupils at increased risk of becoming NEET.”

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