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From latch key kids to pushy parents: Out of school activities and the education gap

Posted on 17 September 2014 by Emily Tanner, Head of Children, Families & Work .
Tags: attainment, children, education, extracurricular, families, grades, learning, primary schools, schools, sport, teachers, young people

Emily TannerFor many parents how to occupy their children after school is not an easy decision. Some will be happy with their children relaxing at home, some will help their children try fun new skills and some will get their children involved in as much extra learning as possible. For working parents, decisions will be additionally shaped by childcare needs.

Along with Prof Liz Todd and Karen Laing from Newcastle University and Amy Skipp, we at NatCen Social Research are investigating how primary school children spend their time outside of school and what effects this has on their academic attainment.

This research, funded by the Nuffield Foundation, will examine how involvement in different types of activities, such as school clubs, music lessons, language classes, childminders and tutoring, varies for 5 to 11 year olds from different backgrounds and what this means for how well they get on at school.

We are analysing the latest data from a major survey of young people the Millennium Cohort Study and interviewing parents, children and out of school activity providers to explore the extent to which children participate in organised out of school activities and what factors affect this.

Our aim is to test the strength of different academic theories in explaining any impacts and differences found. To guide our thinking, we are looking for feedback from education practitioners, academics, parents and other interest groups. We've set out these theories here and would like your opinion of them.

  • Do you think we have covered all of the possible underlying processes?
  • Are there any other potential explanations?
  • Which do you think comes closest to explaining the link between what children do out of school and how well they perform in school?

Please look through our slides and then leave us a comment below. If you’d prefer to tell us what you think directly you can email us at Emily.tanner@natcen.ac.uk or call 0207 549 8580.

Read up on the different theories here.

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