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Research round-up 28 September 2017

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Here's a round-up of education research published in the last fortnight.  

Entries to arts subjects at key stage four

The Education Policy Institute has published a report on entries to arts subjects at key stage four. 

Key findings

  • Entries to arts subjects by key stage four cohorts have declined over the past couple of years, following several years of gradual increases. The 2016 entry rates are the lowest of the decade
  • The average number of arts entries per pupil has fallen since 2013, standing at 0.70 in 2016; this is lower than at any other time in the period under review and comes after an increase between 2010 and 2013
  • Similarly, the proportion of pupils taking at least one arts subject fell in both 2015 and 2016, reaching 53.5 per cent in the latter year. Again, this is the lowest figure for the decade and follows an increase between 2010 and 2014
  • If in 2016 the same proportion of pupils had taken at least one arts entry as in 2014, this would have resulted in around 19,000 more pupils accessing an arts subject. If the same proportion had been evident as in 2007, this would have meant just more than 11,000 more pupils doing so
  • Evidence from teachers and school leaders indicates that various factors are placing pressure on arts subjects, including the EBacc, Progress 8 and financial issues. However, the extent to which this pressure impacts on a school’s arts provision depends on the combination of these factors within the school’s specific context, and the extent to which school leaders are able or willing to prioritise arts subjects under these circumstances
  • Although the EBacc appears to be resulting in higher average attainment in GCSEs English and maths, and lower probabilities of leaving education after the age of 16, it is likely it is the EBacc element of Progress 8 that is putting particular pressure on arts subjects, by limiting the number of option subject slots that can be filled by non-EBacc subjects
  • However, Progress 8 also provides an element of protection for arts subjects because it includes three slots that can be filled by a variety of subjects including the arts. This means the measure is likely to incentivise schools to limit the number of option slots available to pupils at key stage four while continuing to offer a variety of arts subjects if high grades are achieved by pupils who do choose to take them.

 

About the data

  • The report is based on quantitative analysis of data supplied by the DfE from the National Pupil Database and exam entry files for each cohort of pupils reaching the end of key stage four in the decade between 2007 and 2016
  • The analysis does not classify design and technology as an arts subject - in contrast to some of the existing analysis that criticises the impact of the EBacc on arts subjects and, particularly, on design and technology
  • Only pupils enrolled at mainstream schools were included in the analysis, which also focuses mainly on state-funded schools. This is because accountability measures that may be influencing entries are unlikely to have the same impact on non-mainstream and independent schools.

 

Read the full report online here.

Access and waiting times in children and young people's mental health services

 

A new report by the Education Policy Institute (EPI) examines new data on access to specialist treatment for children and young people with mental health problems and the waiting times they face.

Key findings

  • Just more than a quarter (26 per cent) of children referred to specialist mental health services were not accepted into those services in 2016-17
  • The percentage of referrals not accepted by specialist services increased significantly from 21 per cent in 2012-13 to 27 per cent in 2015-16, and it has since levelled off
  • According to experimental NHS data, around 147,000 young people were in contact with children and young people’s mental health services in May 2017; therefore, it can be estimated that around 52,500 children’s referrals were not accepted over the time period when these referrals were accepted
  • There is wide variation between providers. Some providers do not accept more than half of their referrals while for others, that figure is less than five per cent. On average, providers in the South of England rejected the highest proportion of referrals while rejections were at their lowest in London
  • The average waiting time for assessment has dropped from 39 days in 2015-16 to 33 days in 2016-17, and for treatment, from 67 to 56 days. Over the last five years, there has not been a clear trend in median waiting times, but the most recent year (2016-17) is the lowest this has been for five years.

 

About the data

  • This new data was obtained by EPI through a Freedom of Information request sent to 67 CAMHS providers in April 2017. There was a response rate of 85 per cent.

 

Read the full report online here.

NGA/TES annual school governance survey

 

The key findings of the NGA/TES annual school governance have been published ahead of the full release of the survey results.

Key findings

  • Funding pressures are the main concern of governors and trustees – 72 per cent do not believe they can be managed without any adverse impact on the quality of education
  • Thirty per cent of governors and trustees said their school had already reduced the number of teaching staff because of funding constraints while 33 per cent say they anticipated doing so in the next two years
  • When asked which government policy or action had had the most impact on their governing body over the last year, funding dominated, with 55 per cent naming it their main challenge
  • Only 17 per cent agreed that the removal of national curriculum levels had been a positive change while 41 per cent disagreed or strongly disagreed, with 36 per cent of governors and trustees saying they have now developed their own progress measure
  • On being a governor, 95 per agreed that high-quality indication training should be mandatory, and 40 per cent said their responsibilities were not manageable in 10 to 20 days
  • Young people are significantly under represented on governing boards – just 1.1 per cent respondents were younger than 30 and 10.4 per cent were younger than 40
  • Diversity of ethnicity is considerably narrower than the averages shown in the census (86 per cent white) and the backgrounds of pupils attending state funded schools (75 per cent white) – 94 per cent of respondents gave their ethnicity as white
  • Four in five governors and trustees are currently or were previously in managerial or professional occupations, which suggests they have significant skills and experience to offer schools
  • 55 per cent respondents state they find it difficult to recruit to their governing board.

 

About the data

  • The survey was of more than 5,300 school governors and trustees.

 

Read the key findings here

Review of SES and Science Learning in Formal Educational Settings

 

This report contains an extensive analysis of data in the UK National Pupil Database (NPD) on the performance of disadvantaged pupils in national science tests and in tests of other subjects in comparison with those of pupils from higher socio-economic status (SES) backgrounds.

Key findings

  • Pupils from economically disadvantaged families have much lower scores in national science tests and examinations (key stages one, two, four & five, A level) than pupils from higher SES families
  • Disadvantaged pupils make poor progress in science at every stage of their school career and are proportionally less likely than other pupils to continue with science in the post-16 years
  • Even when the review took account of, and controlled for, disadvantaged pupils’ earlier difficulties, they still made less progress than other pupils
  • The achievement gap in science grows over time, and it seems to be largest at the end of secondary school
  • Gaps in science attainment increase particularly strongly between ages five to seven and ages 11 to 16, which coincide with particularly significant times in cognitive development. This suggests early intervention is not a viable solution and further research should be undertaken looking at interventions that focus on these time points.

 

About the data

  • Pupils from economically disadvantaged families are defined as pupils who have been entitled to Free School Meals at least once in the last six years (the EVER6 measure).

 

Read the full report here

Also this fortnight
  • The Commission on Religious Education has published its interim report: Religious Education for All
  • GL Assessment has published a report on how the term ‘average’ can obscure student problems and potential
  • NUS has published a report on the Post 16 Skills Plan and changing FE landscape, outlining a vision for what students believe makes excellent vocational teaching and learning
  • The Sutton Trust has published a report that examines the current state of early years policy: Closing Gaps Early.