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Research round-up 8 December 2017

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

This report, by Pro Bono Economics for the PSHE Association, explores the impact of PSHE education on students' health, well-being and academic attainment. 

Key findings

  • Evidence indicates that the quality of PSHE education varies, and it is often poor: a 2013 Ofsted review found that PSHE was inadequate in 40 per cent of English schools
  • The literature suggests that PSHE and PSHE-type interventions have at least some positive effect on all of these outcomes:
    • Social and emotional learning has a significant positive impact on the academic achievement of students. To a lesser extent, there is some indication that it has a positive impact on attendance and truancy levels
    • Bullying interventions have a significant positive impact on the academic achievements of students, but they do not impact on attendance rates
    • Targeting reduced negative behaviour (and promoting pro-social behaviour) has a positive impact on behavioural outcomes and, in turn, academic attainment. The literature suggests the format and execution of the intervention are key to success
    • Physical health and emotional well-being interventions can have a positive impact on academic attainment by enhancing the physical and mental health of students. However, the evidence for attendance was not as strong
    • Relationships and sex education interventions can have a positive impact on teenage-pregnancy rates and can, in turn, improve academic attainment
    • Drug and alcohol education can enable young people to make healthier choices.

About the research

  • This independent review examined national and international evidence to determine the degree to which PSHE’s impact on students’ health and behaviour might lead to greater academic attainment and improved life chances in adulthood. 
Teacher retention and turnover research - Research update three: is the grass greener beyond teaching?

This research update from the National Foundation for Educational Research presents evidence on teachers’ motivations to leave the profession, the destinations of leavers and explores how their working hours, pay, job satisfaction and well-being change after they leave the profession. 

Key findings

  • More than half of non-retiring teachers who leave the state sector in England remain in the wider education sector, either by teaching in the private sector or taking a non-teaching role in a school
  • Teachers who leave teaching for another job tend, on average, to work fewer hours per week after leaving. This finding is driven by greater take-up of part-time positions, particularly among secondary teachers
  • The job satisfaction of teachers who leave teaching for another job increases considerably after they leave, and their job satisfaction had been declining in the years before they left teaching.

About the research

  • This research update is the fourth publication in a series by the National Foundation for Educational Research, funded by a grant from the Nuffield Foundation
  • Data comes from the Understanding Society survey, which is the largest longitudinal household survey in the UK and based on a sample of 40,000 households over six years
  • Data for this research update comes from 1,149 individuals who were, at some point across the six waves of data, teachers in a school in England’s state sector.
State of the nation 2017

The Social Mobility Commission’s fifth annual State of the Nation Report looks at current social mobility issues across the country and focuses on educational opportunities for young people today. 

Key findings

  • A stark social mobility postcode lottery exists in Britain today where the chances of being successful if you come from a disadvantaged background are linked to where you live
  • There is no simple north/south divide. Instead, a divide exists between London (and its affluent commuter belt) and the rest of the country – London accounts for nearly two-thirds of all social mobility hotspots
  • The Midlands is the worst region of the country for social mobility for those from disadvantaged backgrounds – half the local authority areas in the East Midlands and more than a third in the West Midlands are social mobility coldspots
  • Some of the worst-performing areas – such as Weymouth and Portland, and Allerdale – are rural, not urban; while some are in relatively affluent parts of England – places like West Berkshire, Cotswold and Crawley
  • Coastal and older industrial towns – places like Scarborough, Hastings, Derby and Nottingham – are becoming entrenched social mobility coldspots
  • Some of the richest places in England like West Berkshire deliver worse outcomes for their disadvantaged children than places that are much poorer like Sunderland and Tower Hamlets
  • Social mobility gaps open up at an early age, with disadvantaged children 14 percentage points less likely to be school-ready at age five in coldspots than in hotspots: in 94 areas, fewer than half of disadvantaged children are ready for school aged five
  • Outside London, disadvantaged pupils lose out: 51 per cent of London children on free school meals achieve A* to C in English and maths GCSE compared with an average of 36 per cent in all other English regions.

About the research 

  • This research is based on the ‘social mobility index’. Using 16 indicators, the index assesses the education, employability and housing prospects of people living in each of England’s 324 local authority areas. The index highlights where people from disadvantaged backgrounds are most and least likely to make social progress. 
PIRLS 2016: reading literacy performance in England 

These findings, from the progress in international reading literacy study (PIRLS) 2016, assess and compare the reading attainment and attitudes of year five children.

Key findings

  • England’s average score in PIRLS 2016 is 559. This is significantly above the International Median score of 539, and it is England’s highest average performance across all four PIRLS cycles
  • However, in PIRLS 2016, England is significantly below the top-performers - the Russian Federation (581) and Singapore (576)
  • In PIRLS 2011, England had one of the largest gender gaps in performance of all of the participating countries, with girls significantly outperforming boys. The improvements in the performance of boys in PIRLS 2016 has now reduced this gap to be consistent with the median gender gap across all participating countries
  • Although boys in England typically report fewer positive attitudes towards reading than girls, there was evidence that reading attitudes have slightly improved in boys since the 2011 cycle
  • There is no evidence that pupils’ ethnic background or English as an additional language status significantly predict their PIRLS 2016 reading performance.

About the research

  • The progress in international reading literacy study (PIRLS), directed by the International Association for the Evaluation of Educational Achievement (IEA), is a large-scale study that provides internationally comparable data to participating countries regarding pupils’ reading performance after approximately four years of formal primary schooling.
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