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Issue 20, Spring 2008



Minority Ethnic Pupils in the Longitudinal Study of Young People in England

Dr Steve Strand has recently submitted the final report to the Department for Children, Schools and Families (DCSF) on the Minority Ethnic Pupils in the Longitudinal Study of Young People in England (MEP-LSYPE) project. The study interviewed a nationally representative sample of over 15,000 young people in Year 9 (age 13/14 years) and also interviewed their parents/guardians, gaining extensive information on pupil and parent attitudes, aspirations and family circumstances. These data were linked to the pupils' Key Stage 2 (KS2) and Key Stage 3 (KS3) national test results at age 10/11 and 13/14 years respectively. The primary aim of the analysis was to focus on the relationships between various pupil, family, school and neighbourhood factors in order to better understand the reasons for differences in the educational attainment of different ethnic groups.

The results confirmed large 'gaps' associated with ethnicity in national tests at the end of KS3. The KS3 average points score for Pakistani, Bangladeshi, Black Caribbean and Black African groups was around three points below the mean for White British pupils, equivalent to a whole year of progress in terms of National Curriculum levels. This gap was small compared to the social class gap of 10 points between pupils for higher managerial & professional families and those whose main parent/carer was long term unemployed, or the nine point gap between pupils with mothers educated to degree level and those whose mothers had no educational qualifications. However it was substantially larger than the gender gap, which was just 0.8 points (boys lower than girls).

Statistical control for parental social class, maternal education, family poverty, home ownership and family composition (single parent households), substantially reduced the attainment gaps for minority ethnic pupils relative to White British pupils. However the low attainment of the Black Caribbean group was not accounted for by such controls, remaining 2.5 points below the White British pupils' average. A wide range of further variables were added, including parents' educational aspirations for their children, the provision of resources such as a home computer or tutor, parental involvement in school, pupils' academic self concept, educational aspirations, frequency of completing homework, attitudes to school, special educational needs, absence, truancy, exclusion, involvement with police or social services and school and neighbourhood characteristics. All these variables were strongly related to attainment, but again these variables could not explain the Black Caribbean gap.

Much of the difference between ethnic groups at age 14 could be accounted for by pre-existing gaps at age 11. After controlling for prior attainment and all pupil, family school and neighbourhood factors, Pakistani and Black African gaps at KS3 reflected earlier gaps at KS2, indicating a need to focus on processes occurring during primary school for a full understanding of these gaps. However Bangladeshi boys and Black Caribbean pupils continued to make less progress than their White British peers over the course of KS3, falling even further behind than they were at age 11. Conversely Bangladeshi girls and Indian pupils made more progress than White British pupils over the course of KS3 pulling further ahead. These differences in progress could not be explained by any of the pupil, family, school or neighbourhood factors detailed above.

The results suggest in-school factors may be associated with the low attainment and poor progress of Black Caribbean pupils. For example Black Caribbean pupils were found to be systematically under-represented in entry to the higher tiers of the KS3 mathematics and science tests, even after adjusting for prior attainment and all other pupil, family and school factors. All other things being equal, for every three White British pupils entered to the higher tiers only two Black Caribbean pupils were entered. Black Caribbean pupils were the only ethnic group to be under-represented in this way.


An 8 page summary of the report can be found

The full 121 page report can be downloaded


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Evaluation of The Big Deal National Enterprise Competition 2007

Dr Stephen Cullen and Professor Geoff Lindsay have recently completed an evaluation of The Big Deal National Enterprise Competition run jointly by the National Academy for Gifted and Talented Youth and The Brightside Trust. The Big Deal was a ten week business competition targeted at NAGTY Goal Students working in teams of two to four pupils from schools across England. The aims of the Big Deal related directly to the key aims of the Goal programme, that is the support of disadvantaged students who are at risk of underachievement. The evaluation undertaken by CEDAR was a mixed methods approach involving document analysis; questionnaires completed by participating students at the beginning and end of the competition; face to face interviews; along with online access to the Big Deal blogs.

The results suggest that The Big Deal 2007 was a successful programme that engaged 35 teams from 23 schools in 10 Local Authorities. At the outset, 120 Year 9-10 students, members of NAGTY and Goal, entered the competition, 79 students, from 22 teams, and 15 schools, made it to the final Competition Day after ten weeks of enterprise project work.

The student questionnaires gave a picture of the student group having their expectations met by their experience of the Big Deal programme. Allowing for the discrepancy of one between the number of pre and post project respondents, there was a close match in all questions between expectations and experience. These views were also mirrored in the accounts that the students gave of their Big Deal experience. All the student teams interviewed talked about how they organised themselves, the difficulties they had, how they had overcome difficulties, and this skills they thought they had developed.

The student questionnaires also sought to identify the impact of participation in the Big Deal on the acquisition of skills that students believed were applicable to their school and post school lives, and attempted to establish whether the project impacted on students' interest in a business career. In the latter case, the questionnaire respondents indicated that involvement in the Big Deal appeared to boost students' interest in a business career. The post-project questionnaires indicated that in relation to the respondents' desire to stay at school or college beyond GCSE, their subject choices at AS and A2 level, their desire to attend university, and their views about degree choices were all positively affected for the majority of respondents.

The Big Deal was a positive and enjoyable business learning experience for the students involved, and enabled them to take advantage of an effective and high quality e-mentoring scheme facilitated by The Brightside Trust and NAGTY. The ten week project drew together small school teams from around England in an engaging and challenging business education competition. It provided a successful link-up between high-quality business mentors and gifted and talented school students. Students, teachers and mentors indicated that they believed that the Big Deal was a valuable, and enjoyable, educational experience. The programme exhibited some notable positive aspects, and some weaker points, while some participants made interesting recommendations for future Big Deal competitions. The Big Deal model is a sustainable model of business education for gifted and talented school students, and the 2007 competition laid strong foundations for future Big Deal competitions.

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Thinking in Three Dimensions: Public Art and Learning Potential

This research investigates how sculpture can help people engage with contemporary visual art, by exploring the ways in which sculpture trails provide learning opportunities for young pupils. They also offer professional development contexts for teachers and gallery education staff. Funded by Arts Council England West Midlands, Thinking in Three Dimensions examines these issues at national and regional levels. This CEDAR-led project is a collaboration with the University's Mead Gallery. Sheila Galloway is working with Sarah Shalgosky, the Mead's Curator, and Mel Lloyd Smith, Chair of the Friends of the Mead (and a former Deputy Director of Warwick's Institute of Education).

The local stimulus for the study comes from the University's Sculpture Trail of 40 works on open display around the campus. Since 1994 it has been used by West Midlands schools and colleges. During this period curriculum time for creative subjects has come under increasing pressure. Growing concern nationally about Key Stages 1 and 2 teachers with specialist visual arts knowledge also makes out research timely. Moreover current aspirations for 'education out of school' stress the value of such activities.

Towns and cities have long commemorated local heroes through sculpture and since the 1950s contemporary sculpture has been seen as a way to enrich and unite communities, initially in the aftermath of the Second World War. More recently National Lottery funding has enabled local authorities to use sculpture in regenerating the built environment. Different agencies have invested substantial public funds in commissioning contemporary work. Public art is accessible to all, not just those people who are at ease in galleries and can afford to visit them. But how do people experience contemporary sculpture in open settings? How do both children and adults make it have meaning for them personally? What is the nature of the learning which takes place in such contexts? We still know little about how people, children or adults, develop the ability to engage with contemporary three dimensional works in their community.

The team is compiling a map of existing sculpture trails in England, recording specific provision for children and young people. We are making site visits to selected trails which offer schools group visits, whether guided or self-directed. Alongside this overview, our in-depth qualitative research focuses on groups visiting the University's Sculpture Trail. This involves case studies of schools located in the West Midlands. The key questions are:

  • What does the experience of visiting a sculpture trail offer young pupils?
  • What does it offer teachers?
  • How can a venue best use the learning opportunities offered by a sculpture trail?

Thinking in Three Dimensions runs from March 2007 to June 2008 and builds on CEDAR's existing expertise in this area, most recently in the national evaluation of the Artist Teacher Scheme and research for Arts Council England on the Presentation of the Contemporary Visual Arts. The findings will be of use to visual arts professionals as well as to teachers planning to make use of the resources which sculpture trails offer to enrich the curriculum.

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