Schooling and unequal outcomes in youth and adulthood

Lead Research Organisation: University College London
Department Name: Social Science

Abstract

The role of schooling in determining educational attainment, occupational outcomes and social mobility remains high on the policy agenda. Are certain types of schools or schools with certain characteristics more successful than others and why? Do some types of school suit some pupils better than others? To what extent is schooling implicated in social and educational inequalities in Britain? In a time of increasing school diversity, selectivity and marketisation, these questions are more salient than ever. The 1970 British Cohort Study should be a prime data source for addressing these and related questions. This dataset provides a rich range of family background and ability measures, providing a substantial advantage in dealing with the issue of selectivity into the different types of school. However, work using the 1970 cohort has previously been hampered by the absence of secondary school data for the majority of the cohort members.
The purpose of this project is twofold:
1. To repair and enhance the 1986 wave of data of the 1970 British Cohort Study (BCS70). Due to a schools strike in 1986, data on secondary schools are only available for 40% of the sample. In addition, the majority of the cognitive tests taken by the cohort members in 1986 were never deposited. This project will derive and deposit new variables which will greatly enhance the value of the BCS70 dataset for researchers interested in education, social mobility and related areas.
2. To use the newly enhanced data to conduct a programme of multidisciplinary research addressing substantive research questions of significant policy interest regarding the short and long term consequences of different primary and secondary school contexts across a range of domains.

This project will enhance the value of one of ESRCs major data investments. At present, the BCS70 is under-exploited, and this data enhancement could help BCS70 achieve levels of research and publications more in line with the older 1958 cohort. The project will also provide rigorous substantive research by a multi-disciplinary team, combining insights across the disciplines of sociology, economics and social statistics.

The children's completed tests from 1986 have been preserved and scanned, and will be keyed-in and processed. Information on the schools attended will be filled in from two sources; the 1986 Schools Census, and a retrospective item that the BCS70 survey members are being asked to complete at the latest survey, which is being carried out throughout 2012 (at age 42). New variables will be derived, tested for reliability, fully documented, and deposited for use by the wider research community.

We will be able to use these exciting new data to analyse a range of outcomes both during the teenage years and into adulthood (age 42 for BCS70 and age 50 for NCDS). Rather than just looking at overall test scores and qualification levels, we will examine whether schooling makes more difference for qualifications as opposed to cognition, and whether the subjects of qualifications achieved at school and beyond varied by school attended, and the link between schooling and attendance at highly selective universities. We will examine wider social, psychological and behavioural outcomes of schooling, taking a life-course approach to issues such as behavioural difficulties, well-being, depression and attitudes. We will extend the knowledge base on schooling and social mobility, and will investigate the extent to which the effects of school type can be accounted for by factors other than qualifications and cognition. For example, do 'soft' skills and characteristics such as self-confidence, aspirations and attitudes play a role?

We will use advanced quantitative methods to analyse our data, but we will communicate our findings to a wide range of non-academic audiences by actively engaging with the media, offering workshops, and publishing non-technical briefings.

Planned Impact

We will engage research users through publishing non-technical papers and reports, through regular updates and news on the project's website, through engaging with the media, and through running workshops. We will draw on the expertise of our advisory panel (see Pathways to Impact) for assistance in how best to reach these groups.

1. The research has potential to increase the effectiveness of public policy on education and social mobility, by providing a stronger evidence base for policy. We expect the research to benefit UK government departments (especially, but not limited to, the Department for Education), government departments in the devolved administrations, and not for profit organisations such as think tanks working in this area (for example the Sutton Trust, IPPR, Demos). Public policy regarding aspects of schooling such as private schools, selective schools, faith schools and single-sex schools has often been made on a primarily ideological rather than evidence-based basis. This research will seek to challenge conventional thinking in this area, whether on the left or the right, where the evidence justifies this.

2. The research will also inform parents, teachers and the general public about the impacts of attending particular types of school for particular categories of pupil. We will increase awareness of the role of socio-economic inequalities in producing educational inequalities, and the aspects of schooling which may exacerbate or protect against increasingly unequal cognitive, educational, social and occupational outcomes during schooling and beyond.

3. Project staff and the project student will develop both professional and research skills, including high-level quantitative skills, and skills in communicating quantitative analyses to general audiences. These skills are in shortage both in UK academia and in the wider economy.

Publications

10 25 50
 
Description Data: A key aim of the project was to repair the BCS70 1986 school data via both retrospective and administrative information, and inputting previously unavailable cognitive scores from 1986. This has been completed, and these new variables have been publicised via a webinar, as well as via our publications.
Findings: Key findings from our published journal articles are as follows:
- We find a powerful educational advantage associated with private schooling, especially in the case of gaining a Russell Group degree. The private school advantage is partly explained by better school exam results. However, even comparing people with the same exam results at 16 and 18, respondents who had been to private schools had over double the chance of going to a Russell Group university compared to people who had attended comprehensive schools. However, those who had been to Grammar schools were not advantaged over those at Comprehensives.
- We establish that there is a private school pay premium at age 42, and debunk the idea that this advantage can be accounted for by 'soft skills' or personal characteristics or qualities. We find that, while locus of control and aspirations both have modest effects on pay at age 42, neither self-esteem nor networks are linked to pay in later life. Moreover, only a small part of the private school earnings premium is accounted for by all these non-cognitive factors. Much of the premium is due, rather, to educational attainments. After controlling extensively for post-16 academic attainments, there is no significant residual premium for women. There remains, however, an unexplained pay premium for men.
- Whereas past research has shown a residual direct effect of social origins on class destinations, we find that, once a sufficiently detailed picture of educational attainment is taken into account, education fully explains the link between social origins and top social class destinations.
- We find evidence of a positive association between private primary-school attendance and a child's cognitive progress in three British cohorts (born in 1958, 1970 and 2000). This effect remains after accounting for a wide range of individual and family characteristics, despite the very different times and socio-economic circumstances experienced by the children and their families in the three studies.
Additional papers under peer review present findings on the role of private schools in: marriage prospects, mental health and political attitudes, and on the role of higher education differentiation and private schools on earnings.
Capacity: The project has developed the capabilities of the multidisciplinary team, including in Structural Equation Modelling (SEM). Workshops have been provided highlighting the new data resource.
Wider engagement: has included a spin-off collaboration with UUK; press coverage and blog posts, and presentations to policy audiences.
Exploitation Route The new/repaired variables deposited will be of great use to other researchers, filling a gap in our knowledge of the trajectories of the 1970 generation.
The findings will inform wider research on education and social stratification, and have the potential to inform education policy.
Sectors Education

URL http://www.cls.ioe.ac.uk/page.aspx?&sitesectionid=1233&sitesectiontitle=Schooling+and+unequal+outcomes+in+youth+and+adulthood+
 
Description The research has contributed to public understanding of educational inequalities and social mobility through a wide range of engagement activities.
First Year Of Impact 2014
Sector Communities and Social Services/Policy,Education
Impact Types Societal,Policy & public services

 
Title Deposit of enhanced 1986 Schools Dataset 
Description We have repaired and enhanced the 1986 wave of data of the 1970 British Cohort Study (BCS70). Due to a schools strike in 1986, data on secondary schools are only available for 40% of the sample. In addition, the majority of the cognitive tests taken by the cohort members in 1986 were never deposited. This project derived and deposited new variables which greatly enhance the value of the BCS70 dataset for researchers interested in education, social mobility and related areas. 
Type Of Material Database/Collection of data 
Year Produced 2017 
Provided To Others? Yes  
Impact We expect these variables to be widely used by the research community. They have already been used in the publications from this project. 
URL http://www.cls.ioe.ac.uk/page.aspx?&sitesectionid=802&sitesectiontitle=BCS70+Age+16+survey+(1986)
 
Description UUK Project: Do the mid-career benefits of higher education vary among students from different socio-economic backgrounds? 
Organisation Universities UK
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Consultancy project for UUK as a spin-off from the main ESRC project. Research questions: The main RQs examined surround the long-term influence of early socio-economic advantage on labour market outcomes in mid-adulthood (at age 42), controlling for degree attainment, and whether the value of gaining a degree from an elite university for labour market success varies by socio-economic background. Specifically: • Does attendance at a private secondary school influence pay at age 42, even after controlling for degree attainment and university status? • Do those students previously educated in private secondary schools (or with other indicators of prior social advantage) gain a higher economic return from their degree, controlling for university status and achievements?
Collaborator Contribution Input into research questions and dissemination.
Impact Working paper (not yet released)
Start Year 2015
 
Description "Schooling and unequal outcomes in youth and adulthood: the long-term effects of private schooling in the 1970s and 1980s" presentation at event on "Britain's Private Schools in the 21st Century" 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Postgraduate students
Results and Impact Presentation at symposium at IOE, UCL.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description Article for general audience: Sullivan, A. 'The elusive leg-up' ESRC 'Britain in 2015' (p.104). 
Form Of Engagement Activity A magazine, newsletter or online publication
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Engagement with general public, sharing research findings on social mobility.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
 
Description Article in 'The Conversation' (2014) Grammar schools don't give pupils a better chance of getting into elite universities 
Form Of Engagement Activity A magazine, newsletter or online publication
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Article for 'The Conversation' read by over 3,000 people. Generated and informed debate on schools and access to higher education.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014
URL http://theconversation.com/grammar-schools-dont-give-pupils-a-better-chance-of-getting-into-elite-un...
 
Description BBC News interview 
Form Of Engagement Activity A broadcast e.g. TV/radio/film/podcast (other than news/press)
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Interviewed on BBC news on 13/04/17 regarding government policy on Grammar schools. Challenged policy based on research evidence from cohorts and other studies.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
URL http://www.ucl.ac.uk/ioe/news-events/news-pub/april-2017/media-grammar-schools-selective-by-definiti...
 
Description BERA Blog post 
Form Of Engagement Activity Engagement focused website, blog or social media channel
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact https://www.bera.ac.uk/blog/elite-universities-fields-of-study-and-top-salaries-which-degree-will-make-you-rich
Blog post to accompany journal article
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
URL https://www.bera.ac.uk/blog/elite-universities-fields-of-study-and-top-salaries-which-degree-will-ma...
 
Description Contribution to POST (Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology) briefing 'Academic Evidence on Selective Secondary Schooling' http://researchbriefings.parliament.uk/ResearchBriefing/Summary/POST-PB-0022 
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 In September 2016, the Prime Minister announced that the Government intends to remove the ban on opening entirely new state-funded grammar schools in England, and to allow non-selective schools to convert under certain circumstances. From September to December 2016, the Department for Education (DfE) ran a consultation on the proposals, which also includes plans to allow new free schools to select up to 100% of pupils based on their faith. I was interviewed by the writer of this POSTbrief which provides a brief overview of methodologically robust studies on state-funded selective schools that select the majority of their intake on academic criteria http://researchbriefings.parliament.uk/ResearchBriefing/Summary/POST-PB-0022. The POST brief cites CLS work using BCS70 data.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
URL http://researchbriefings.parliament.uk/ResearchBriefing/Summary/POST-PB-0022
 
Description Daily Mail article http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-6050745/Graduate-pay-depends-course-university-study-finds.html 11th August 2018 
Form Of Engagement Activity A press release, press conference or response to a media enquiry/interview
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Media (as a channel to the public)
Results and Impact Feature in the Mail on Sunday covering journal article findings
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
URL http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-6050745/Graduate-pay-depends-course-university-study-finds.h...
 
Description Event at the Department for Education (DfE) on SOcial Mobility, as part of ESRC Festival of Social Science 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact Well-attended event at the Department for Education, showcasing findings from the British Cohort Studies. Sparked useful discussion and increased awareness of research evidence among policymakers and civil service analysts.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014
 
Description Media press release for national news, following talk at British Sociological Association. Interview with and take-up in Daily Mail. 
Form Of Engagement Activity A press release, press conference or response to a media enquiry/interview
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact A press release, entitled: "Privately educated women four times more likely to marry a man who was privately educated".
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description Presentation at Department of Education 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact The aim of the presentation was to bring policymakers in the Dept for Education up to date with recent research on the participation in, and effects of private schooling in Britain. The presentation generated considerable interest, and the role of private schooling was considered important to understand, by those engaged with analysis for policy-making in respect of England's state education system.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description Presentation on "Stability and change in pathways from origins to destinations via education: a comparison of the 1958 and 1970 cohorts". LLAKES conference, 15th November, 2018 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact A presentation at the LLAKES conference
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description Presentation on 'Origins, Education and Destinations in BCS70' at CLOSER conference 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Other audiences
Results and Impact Presentation on 'Origins, Education and Destinations in BCS70' at CLOSER conference
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
URL https://www.closer.ac.uk/conference
 
Description Press conference with Education Media Centre to inform journalists re education issues in the general election 
Form Of Engagement Activity A press release, press conference or response to a media enquiry/interview
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Press conference with Education Media Centre to inform journalists re education issues in the general election. My contribution was reported in the media, including BBC news and TES. BBC item http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-40043891
I published a blog post to go with the story, published on the IOE blog and Education Media Centre blog https://ioelondonblog.wordpress.com/ http://educationmediacentre.org/blog/how-evidence-based-are-the-conservative-manifesto-proposals-on-grammar-schools/
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
URL http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-40043891
 
Description Press release: Academic success doesn't guarantee top earnings for fortysomethings, study finds 
Form Of Engagement Activity A press release, press conference or response to a media enquiry/interview
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Educational achievement may be enough to open the door to high-status occupations, but isn't sufficient to deliver a top income in early middle age, according to new research from the UCL Institute of Education (IOE). Those who grew up with advantages, such as higher family income and a private school education, are most likely to join the top 15 per cent of British earners when they reach their early forties.

This press release received coverage in the Daily Telegraph and the Independent.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
URL http://www.cls.ioe.ac.uk/news.aspx?itemid=4528&itemTitle=Academic+success+doesn%E2%80%99t+guarantee+...
 
Description Press release: Dreaming big 
Form Of Engagement Activity A press release, press conference or response to a media enquiry/interview
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Can 'dreaming big' help state-educated pupils match private school peers' wages in early middle age?

Raising state school children's aspirations, self-confidence, and improving their access to social networks would do little to counter the huge pay advantages enjoyed by their privately-educated peers, new research shows.

This press release was based on research using the 1970 British Cohort Study.

Key coverage:

The Times: Why private school arrogance doesn't pay - Nicola Woolcock
The Daily Telegraph: Independent school pupils say network will secure top job - Daily Telegraph reporter
Times Education Supplement (online): Boosting state school pupils' self-esteem and job aspirations 'won't narrow pay gap', study finds - Irena Barker
The Independent (online): 'Social and family connections' boost self-esteem for private school pupils - Aftab Ali
BT.com (online): 'Social and family connections' boost self-esteem for private school pupils - Press Association reporter

Not aware of any impact as of yet.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
URL http://www.cls.ioe.ac.uk/news.aspx?itemid=4380&itemTitle=Can+%E2%80%98dreaming+big%E2%80%99+help+sta...
 
Description Press release: Grammar schools 'made it no easier' to gain elite university degrees, study finds 
Form Of Engagement Activity A press release, press conference or response to a media enquiry/interview
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Media (as a channel to the public)
Results and Impact Press release issued 21/11/2014

Summary of key coverage:

BBC News
'Leaky pipe' between 1980s grammar schools and university
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-30128472

The Times
Grammar schools 'offer little advantage'
http://www.thetimes.co.uk/tto/education/article4273804.ece

Daily Telegraph
Private school pupils get better degrees, even if they're less clever
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/education/universityeducation/11243899/Private-school-pupils-get-better-degrees-even-if-theyre-less-clever.html

Independent
Grammar school is no better for pupils than a comprehensive
http://www.independent.co.uk/news/education/education-news/grammar-school-is-no-better-for-pupils-than-a-comprehensive-9873886.html?origin=internalSearch

Times Educational Supplement
Grammar schools did not widen access to elite universities, study finds
https://news.tes.co.uk/b/news/2014/11/20/grammars-did-not-make-it-easier-to-go-to-elite-universities-study-finds.aspx

Press Association also issued an article about the findings. This was picked up by media organisations around the country
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014
URL http://www.cls.ioe.ac.uk/news.aspx?itemid=3110&itemTitle=Grammar+schools+%E2%80%98made+it+no+easier%...
 
Description SLLS 2017 Stirling: Presentation on 'Educational attainment in the short and the long term' 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Other audiences
Results and Impact SLLS 2017 presentation using BCS70 data
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
URL http://www.slls.org.uk/past-conferences
 
Description Sutton Trust 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Third sector organisations
Results and Impact Informed Sutton Trust research team members about how the 1970 Cohort Study could be used to inform their research agenda
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
 
Description UUK 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Other audiences
Results and Impact Invited presentation to Vice Chancellors from UK universities. UUK funded research into whether a degree increases social mobility

there will be a report / paper
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
 
Description Webinar: Introduction to BCS70 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Other audiences
Results and Impact The webinar provided potential users of the data with an introduction to the study, how to access the data, a description of changes to sample composition due to attrition over time and methods for dealing with this in analysis and information about forthcoming sweeps of the study.

All participants rated the event as very or fairly useful.

There were 80 registrations for the event. A video recording of the event hosted on Youtube has subsequently been viewed 40 times.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
URL http://www.cls.ioe.ac.uk/Conference.aspx?itemid=4360&itemTitle=1970+British+Cohort+Study+-+Introduct...
 
Description Workshop on private schools 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Schools
Results and Impact This workshop discussed findings from the ESRC project Private Schooling in the 21st Century, in front of and among a diverse audience.
We used the LLAKES mailing list which brought in a number of people from outside academia, mainly those involved directly or indirectly with education, both private and state. The findings were linked with those from a related, earlier but still ongoing project, Schooling and Unequal Outcomes in Youth and Adulthood, also discussed at this event.
Altogether, seven papers were presented to this diverse audience, and the debate was led by two discussants from outside the project.
The event took place in late December 2018.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
URL https://www.llakes.ac.uk/research-project/337/private-schooling-uk-21st-century-participation-and-ou...