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Research round-up 29 January 2018

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

Mental health problems in young people, aged 11 to 14: results from the first HeadStart annual survey of 30,000 children

This report explores the data related to the prevalence of mental health problems in young people. It investigates how this varies by demographics, such as gender, ethnicity, special educational needs status, free school meal eligibility and child in need status.

Key findings

  • 18.4 per cent of young people indicated they were experiencing emotional problems, and this was more common for girls (24.9 per cent) than boys (10.9 per cent)
  • 18.8 per cent indicated they were exhibiting behavioural problems, and this was more common for boys (23.1 per cent) than girls (15.1 per cent)
  • The odds of experiencing mental health problems (whether emotional or behavioural) were significantly and consistently increased for children who were eligible for free school meals, had special educational needs or were categorised as a ‘child in need’
  • The odds of experiencing a mental health problem were greater for older children than younger children
  • In many instances, being of an ethnic group other than white reduced the odds of experiencing a mental health problem.

About the research

  • HeadStart is a major five-year programme, set up and funded by Big Lottery Fund, that aims to explore and test ways to improve the mental health and well-being of 10 to 16-year-olds
  • A core aspect is a year-on-year school-based survey that asks children and young people in specific year groups in participating schools to complete the online Well-being Measurement Framework
    • In 2017, 30,843 children and young people in years seven (age 11 to 12) and nine (age 13 to 14) completed the Well-being Measurement Framework in 114 participating HeadStart schools
  • Note: the schools involved in HeadStart are located in less socially and economically advantaged areas than typical schools nationally. They also differ from national averages in terms of proportions with special educational needs and proportions of white pupils, so all results must be understood in this context.
Delivering STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) skills for the economy

The National Audit Office has released a report that examines whether the departments’ approach to boosting participation in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education pipeline at all levels is likely to address the STEM skills challenge.

Key findings

  • STEM A level examination entries increased from 252,000 in 2011/12 to 259,000 in 2016/17 (a three per cent rise against a 4.8 per cent fall in entries overall)
  • Provisional data indicates that participation in STEM subjects accounted for 34.9 per cent of all A level entries in 2016/17 (up from 32.3 per cent in 2011/12), having grown by 2.6 per cent compared with the previous year
  • In terms of attainment, outcomes in STEM subjects in 2016/17 were better than in non‑STEM subjects
    • STEM subjects saw an average point score (APS) of 36.5, compared with an APS of 35.7 across all subjects
  • In 2016/17, female students accounted for only 42 per cent of all STEM A level exam entries, making up just 9.4 per cent of examination entries in computing, 21.2 per cent in physics and 39 per cent in mathematics. Conversely, females made up 61.8 per cent of A level biology entries
  • In terms of outcomes, females regularly outperform males in many STEM subjects and results overall are very similar
    • Female students had an APS of 36.3 in STEM subjects in 2016/17 compared with 36.6 for male students
  • Early stage research indicates the £67 million maths and physics teacher supply package, aimed at recruiting an additional 2,500 teachers and improving the skills of 15,000 non‑specialist teachers in these subjects, is having a positive impact
    • However, a recent National Audit Office report also found the return‑to‑teaching initiative's first pilot recruited 428 returning teachers - just more than half of its target of 810; of these, 330 completed the training provided. 
'Pupil Mental Health Crisis?' Survey report 2017

Hub4Leaders in partnership with the Carnegie Centre of Excellence for Mental Health in Schools at Leeds Beckett University has published findings from a survey of 603 school leaders and governors across the UK looking at pupil mental health.

Key findings

  • 97 per cent agree that more funding should be made available for mental health provision in schools
  • 83 per cent of respondents agreed that, in the past five years, there has been an increase in the number of pupils suffering from mental health issues
  • 76 per cent of respondents felt their school had faced challenges in obtaining mental health care provision from the local area
  • 61 per cent of our respondents said they do not feel trained enough to support pupils who may be suffering with a mental health problem
  • 86 per cent of respondents agreed that social media has directly impacted the mental health of pupils
  • 77 per cent said schools' mental health provision should be reviewed during inspections
  • 93 per cent of respondents said they wanted the DfE to publish more official guidance on how to tackle mental health in schools.

About the research

  • The survey was conducted in November 2017 and consisted of 10 questions
  • It was completed by 603 school leaders and governors.
Who chooses private schooling in Britain and why?

This research, by the Institute of Education, studies whether there has been a change over recent years in the social and economic composition of the children who attend Britain’s private schools.

Key findings

  • The proportion of school children from UK-resident families who are at private school has remained fairly constant and now stands close to six per cent
  • Private school fees have trebled in real terms since 1980; the cost of educating one child privately is equivalent to half the average family income – up from a fifth in 1980
  • There is no evidence that participation in private schooling has become less socially and economically exclusive in recent decades
  • The proportion of pupils at private schools receiving some kind of reduced-fee support from their schools, such as bursaries, scholarships or children of forces or the clergy, rose from seven per cent in 1982 to around a third in the last 10 years
    • However, from 2010 onwards, the average fee relief was just more than half the average school fee. Bursaries thereby amounted to just four per cent of total fee income, among schools covered by the ISC.

About the research

  • The research looked at fee data from the Independent Schools Council, whose schools educate 80 per cent of pupils who are in the private sector.
Other recent research
  • DoDs, a political monitoring service, has produced a short biography of Damian Hinds, the new Secretary of State for Education
  • The Local Government Association commissioned an independent research organisation, Isos Partnership, to look into the role of local authorities in supporting local school improvement systems
  • This study, commissioned by the Education Endowment Foundation (EEF), is designed to review current evidence on the most effective ways in which employers can support schools to improve pupil educational and economic outcomes
  • The House of Commons has released a briefing paper that provides answers to some common questions on Ofsted's inspections of state-funded schools in England. It also looks at the practicalities of inspection and the implications of Ofsted's grading, and it provides information on current topical issues in inspection
  • The National Children's Bureau (NCB) has conducted research exploring the measurement of well-being of children in care, aiming to explore how professionals and children and young people in care define well-being, what indicators, tools and/or measurements are used, how indicators of well-being work in practice and what works/challenges associated with indicators of well-being.