Growing up in 21st Century Britain: spatial analysis of the Millennium Cohort Study

Lead Research Organisation: Cardiff University
Department Name: Sch of Social Sciences

Abstract

Abstracts are not currently available in GtR for all funded research. This is normally because the abstract was not required at the time of proposal submission, but may be because it included sensitive information such as personal details.
 
Description This ESRC Mid-Career Fellowship has had several key outcomes:



First, it has significantly raised the profile of the Millennium Cohort Study (MCS) in Wales. This has been achieved in two main ways: (a) by encouraging and supporting its use and analysis in a variety of disciplinary contexts (education, social policy, sociology, geography and policy evaluation) and for different kinds of researchers (academic, government and third sector communities); and (b) through widespread dissemination within Wales of the findings by the Fellow, to national media, academic audiences, politicians, Welsh Government policy-makers and third sector stakeholders.



Second, it has generated important research findings. These include the use of the MCS to make 'home international' comparisons of the different UK education systems on children up to age seven. This highlighted the relative advantage of living in England compared to living in other countries of the UK, particularly in terms of reducing socio-economic inequalities and the striking advantage of London. MCS was also used to evaluate a major education policy in Wales, the Foundation Phase - a new curriculum and pedagogy for 3-7 year olds. This demonstrated, surprisingly, a relative disadvantage for children attending a Foundation Phase pilot school compared to schools still delivering the previous Key Stage 1 National Curriculum. Another key set of findings from the Fellowship relate to the validity, appropriateness and limitations of using eligibility for free school meals as the socio-economic proxy in analyses of educational administrative data. Finally, the Fellowship has been used to demonstrate the complexity and challenge of attempting to understand the role of socio-economic disadvantage on early years development, and how difficult it is, therefore, to identify the factors that may explain how some children 'succeed against the odds' that policy-makers, in particular, often desire.



Third, the Fellowship has allowed me to substantially develop my own quantitative skills and to make a number of important methodological contributions to the analysis of the MCS and longitudinal data generally. This includes: developing analytical approaches in the use of the MCS for evaluative research of education policies that have to contend with the complex and largely hierarchical nature of the educational process; analytical approaches for comparative analyses, including the use of propensity score matching and multi-level modelling with the MCS; and to highlight the potential of visualisation in presenting dynamic longitudinal analyses ( collaborating with Longview -an organisation promoting longitudinal study). .Another contribution to CLS resources was the help I was able to give over linking MCS to Welsh school records.



Finally, the Fellowship allowed me to obtain substantial funding for further longitudinal research, including follow-on analysis of the MCS: WISERDEducation a three-year multi-cohort longitudinal study of children in Wales; an ESRC Secondary Data Analysis Initiative project undertaking longitudinal analysis of linked administrative datasets; the WISERD Civil Society ESRC Centre which includes a project studying intergenerational transmission using Understanding Society.
Exploitation Route The research and findings from this Fellowship have already been utilised by many non-academic users, particularly in government policy. This includes use of the research findings in the first report of the UK Social Mobility and Child Poverty Commission - an advisory non-departmental body of the Department of Education in the UK Government. I was also invited to present my research by the then Minster for Education in the Welsh Government, Leighton Andrews AM, to his Policy Board. I was also asked to present to a sub-group of the Cardiff Council Young People and Scrutiny Committee that was investigating the impact of poverty on educational attainment (some of my findings were later reported in their final report to the full Committee). Further research was presented at an ESRC knowledge exchange event jointly organised by WISERD and the Welsh Government on early years development. Some of these findings were later included in the Welsh Government's (2013) Early Years and Childcare Plan. I am also due to draw upon research from this Fellowship in work for the Public Policy Institute for Wales. This was, launched in January 2014 to improve the effectiveness of policy-making and delivery in Wales, and across the UK, by supporting the flow of evidence between research, policy and practice. One of its initial work packages is to review evidence relating to the impact of poverty on educational attainment in Wales. Throughout this Fellowship I have worked closely with three organisations:



1. The Wales Institute for Social & Economic Research, Data & Methods (WISERD) - a collaboration of five universities in Wales, including Cardiff University, drawing together researchers from a wide range of social science disciplines. I am now the Cardiff Co-Director for WISERD and this national research institute has afforded me the opportunity to work with many other social scientists in collaboration or in supporting the wider use of the MCS and large-scale longitudinal data more generally.



2. The Centre for Longitudinal Studies (CLS) at the Institute of Education, University of London - this is the home of the MCS and where my mentor, Professor Heather Joshi, is based. I was given the status of Visiting Research Associate at the CLS (giving me desk space and access to IoE libraries) and visited the Centre regularly during the Fellowship to meet with my mentor, Centre staff and the Director of Longview.



3. The Welsh Government and specifically the Knowledge and Analytical Services division, home to Government Social Researchers at the Welsh Government. During the Fellowship I met regularly with staff at the Welsh Government to discuss the MCS (including data linkage to the National Pupil Database and support for further sweeps of the MCS in Wales), but also included working collaboratively with researchers and policy colleagues on a project using the MCS to study children who are 'succeeding against the odds'.
Sectors Education

URL http://www.wiserd.ac.uk/research/current-projects/growing-21st-century-britain/
 
Description Findings from this research have been used by policy-makers (at UK and Wales level) and various third sector organisations. This is reflected in findings being utilised or cited in a number of key policy documents, including the 2013 and 2014 Social Mobility and Child Poverty Commission's annual State of the Nation reports and a Welsh Government policy document 'Building a Brigher Future: The Early Years and Childcare Plan' (2013).
First Year Of Impact 2012
Sector Education
Impact Types Policy & public services

 
Description Social Mobility and Child Poverty Commission
Geographic Reach National 
Policy Influence Type Citation in other policy documents
 
Description The impact of poverty and educational attainment
Geographic Reach National 
Policy Influence Type Gave evidence to a government review
 
Description Welsh Government funding for MCS Sweep 6
Geographic Reach National 
Policy Influence Type Gave evidence to a government review
 
Description Centre for Administrative Data Research and Evaluation (CADRE) - an ESRC Administrative Data Research Centre
Amount £7,986,462 (GBP)
Funding ID ES/L007444/1 
Organisation Economic and Social Research Council 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 10/2013 
End 09/2018
 
Description Impact and Effectiveness of Widening Access to HE in Wales
Amount £288,000 (GBP)
Funding ID ES/K004247/1 
Organisation Economic and Social Research Council 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 01/2013 
End 12/2014
 
Description WISERDEducation
Amount £930,000 (GBP)
Funding ID WISERDEducation 
Organisation Higher Education Funding Council for Wales (HEFCW) 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 07/2012 
End 12/2014
 
Description Read On. Get On. campaign 
Organisation Save the Children
Country United States 
Sector Charity/Non Profit 
PI Contribution Invited to join the Save the Children Cymru campaign 'Read On. Get On.' This is part of a UK-wide campaign to encourage more Government support in early years education to support literacy development. In Wales the campaign is asking political parties in Wales to agree to make sure that all children in Wales can read well by the time they leave primary school, by 2025. This has also included specific reports that provides evidence on the need for more support (e.g. Ready to Read Wales - http://www.savethechildren.org.uk/sites/default/files/images/Ready_to_Read_Wales1.pdf - See more at: http://www.savethechildren.org.uk/reading/wales#sthash.R8vhZIar.dpuf
Collaborator Contribution Provided expertise on literacy development for young children in Wales.
Impact Ready to Read Report - http://www.savethechildren.org.uk/sites/default/files/images/Ready_to_Read_Wales1.pdf
Start Year 2014
 
Description Are children in Wales being 'schooled to fail'? Comparing the education systems of Wales, Scotland and England up to the age of 7 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact During the 1990s a leading education researcher suggested that, compared to England, children in Wales were being 'schooled to fail'. Following devolution the comparisons between the educational achievements of children in Wales and England have continued.



The apparent 'gap' in GCSE achievement between Wales and England, recent PISA international comparisons and political differences between the governments of Wales and England have fueled what can be described as a crisis account, particularly within the media and among policy-makers, about the state of the education system in Wales.



In challenging this dominant crisis account, this presentation examines the educational development of children in the first seven years of their lives. It provides evidence of the differences of growing up in different countries in the UK and being schooled in different education systems after controlling for a range of background factors such as the conditions children are born in to.



In the presentation it will also be argued that by looking at social inequalities as the children grow up it is possible to determine whether some systems appear to exacerbate or reduce educational inequalities in the first few years of life.

A record of this analysis and the presentation is made by Leighton Andews (AM) (the Minister for Education and Skills at the time) in his book 'Ministering to Education' (2014, Parthian Books).
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2013
 
Description Are children in Wales being 'schooled to fail'? Comparing the education systems of Wales, Scotland and England up to the age of 7 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact Invited to present latest analysis of the Millennium Cohort Study that compares the progress of children in Wales with the rest of the UK by the Welsh Government Minister for Education, Leighton Andrews AM, to his Policy Board.

A record of this analysis and the presentation is made by Leighton Andews (AM) (the Minister for Education and Skills at the time) in his book 'Ministering to Education' (2014, Parthian Books).
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2013
 
Description Are children in Wales being 'schooled to fail'? Comparing the education systems of Wales, Scotland and England up to the age of 7 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact This was a presentation to the Welsh Government's Department for Education and Skills' Evidence Board, chaired by Owen Evans, Director General for Education and Skills. It directly informed the work of key decision-makers within the Welsh Government.

Following this talk the research was included in 'Building a Brighter Future: Early Years and Childcare Plan' published by the Welsh Government (2013)
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2013
 
Description Devolution and Geographies of Education 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Other academic audiences (collaborators, peers etc.)
Results and Impact Seminar presentation to Applied Quantitative Methods Network (AQMeN) at University of Edinburgh on the use of the Millennium Cohort Study for 'home international' comparisons across the UK, but with specific reference to children's early years educational development in Scotland.

Following the seminar there was interest in developing international comparative research in bilingual education (including Wales, Scotland and Ireland),
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2013
URL https://www.aqmen.ac.uk/events/Oct2013/CTaylor
 
Description Educational Attainment and Poverty 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact This presentation examines the relationship between poverty and educational attainment using data and analysis from the Millennium Cohort Study. In particular it outlines the systematic differences between children living in poverty and children not living in poverty on their early years development. It also considers some of the latest analysis on the role of the family and home learning environment on the educational development of children before discussing what role schools and local authorities can have in intervening in the first few years of compulsory education. I was invited to present research using the MCS to a subgroup of elected Councillors from the Cardiff Council Children and Young People Scrutiny Committee. This subgroup were undertaking a review of educational attainment and poverty for the main Scrutiny Committee.

I was invited to present research using the MCS to a subgroup of elected Councillors from the Cardiff Council Children and Young People Scrutiny Committee. This subgroup were undertaking a review of educational attainment and poverty for the main Scrutiny
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2012
 
Description Evaluating the impact of early years educational reform in Wales using the UK Millennium Cohort Study 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Other academic audiences (collaborators, peers etc.)
Results and Impact This was a presentation at the 2012 Annual EUCCONET & SLLS International Conference in Paris, France on how the Millennium Cohort Study (MCS) could be used for policy evaluation. It raised considerable interest in the both the methodology and findings.

Following this talk I was invited to publish the work in a number of academic journals.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2012
 
Description Growing up in 21st Century Britain: spatial analysis of the Millennium Cohort Study 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact A presentation showcasing the use and analysis of the Millennium Cohort Study in Wales, with a particular focus on the implications for policy-makers. This was a joint WISERD and Welsh Government seminar to showcase the use of longitudinal data and analyses in Wales. It had a particular focus on the benefits of this approach for policy-makers and social researchers from across various departments in the Welsh Government. The seminar significantly raised the awareness of the Millennium Cohort Study and longitudinal research more generally among civil servants and government researchers in the Welsh Government and its various executive agencies.

Following the seminar I was invited to discuss findings from my research in more detail with policy-makers in the Welsh Government, including the Minister for Education and Skills (in Sept 2013).
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2013
 
Description Poverty and Inequality Seminar: a socio-economic duty for Wales 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact I was invited to this half-day seminar to present my research highlighting the role of poverty in determining educational outcomes for seven year olds across the UK and contribute to the wider discussion about introducing a socio-economic duty in Wales. In particular it highlighted the challenges for policy-makers and policy in addressing or mitigating the impact of poverty in creating inequalities in educational outcomes.

Following the talk I was invited to discuss this and other research opportunities with various third sector organisations, including Save the Children Cymru.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014