The extent of the educational divide ‘beyond the classroom’ is revealed today by research commissioned by the Sutton Trust into the amount of homework and other extra curricular activities undertaken by children of graduate parents compared with those from less educated homes. The Trust, which campaigns for increased social mobility, is calling for changes to the conventional school day to reduce the gap.
Children of parents with degrees report that they spend on average twice as much time on homework, reading and study in the home as children from less well educated families. One third (34%) of 15-year olds whose parents had little or no formal education claim that no homework or almost none is ever set for them, compared with only 10% of those with graduate parents.
Middle class children are also over four times as likely to say they have more than 200 books in the home, two and a half times as likely to have a computer and twice as likely to attend day time and after school clubs once a week. They are also much more likely to borrow books from a public library.
The research was carried out by Durham and Oxford Universities and is based on data from CEM (Centre for Evaluation and Monitoring) at Durham University and the ONS (Office for National Statistics) UK 2000 Time Use Survey.
Sir Peter Lampl, Chairman of the Sutton Trust, said: “These results highlight the sheer range of obstacles facing non-privileged young people. Inequalities in the classroom are exacerbated by inequalities in their daily lives, whether this is lack of access to homework help, extra tuition or basic resources such as books and computers. All this serves to entrench low aspirations and underachievement.
“A conventional model of 9am to 3pm schooling is insufficient to tackle such a deep-rooted problem; the mountain to climb is just too high. That is why we are looking at radical approaches, such as KIPP schools in the US, which make up for deficits outside the school gates with extended curriculum time, enrichment activities, the highest quality teachers and a strong work ethic. All this is underpinned by the expectation – universal amongst middle class families – that young people will go on to university. We should not settle for anything less for students from poorer homes.”
The findings echo previous research by the Trust which found that almost one quarter of young people had received private tuition, and this was particularly prevalent in better off families. Previous research has also highlighted that parents from higher social groups are more likely to help their children with homework and engage in school activities.
The new Sutton Trust report highlights that these stark gaps in education time and resources outside school are one of the main drivers behind the persistent attainment gap between middle class children and their less privileged counterparts that continues to blight the country.
The Trust now plans to work with others to develop state school models that offer more learning time to the most disadvantaged pupils, the best teachers and the highest expectations for all pupils to progress to university.
In early 2010 the Trust will be releasing a report on the characteristics of various ‘No Excuses’ Charter Schools in the US, including KIPP, and how the lessons might be applied to the UK. The report will also look at examples of innovative practice from England. Ultimately, the Trust’s intention is to be involved in the development and evaluation of a pilot of a similar approach to schooling in a UK context. Such an approach could be incorporated under existing Academies policy, or under Conservative proposals for Free Schools.
The Trust has also supported initiatives such as the Children’s University (www.childrensuniversity.co.uk) and Into University (www.intouniversity.org) which provide high quality out of school support to those from non-privileged backgrounds.
More details on the Knowledge is Power Programme (KIPP) can be found at www.kipp.org.