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The influence of context on attainment in primary school: Interactions between children, family and school contexts [Wider Benefits of Learning Research Report No. 28]

By Kathryn Duckworth


Growing awareness of the importance of parents and the home environment in shaping children’s achievement, coupled with the recognition of the school as a site for engagement in broader aspects of social and personal development, has raised interest in the interactions between these different influences as a way of addressing issues of educational attainment and inequality. This study explores the nature of these links and considers the relative contribution of different aspects of four different ‘contexts’ or likely spheres of influence on pupil achievement in England at Key Stage 2 (age 10/11), as well as their associations with one another. The results highlight that the quality of each of the different aspects of their lives is important for children’s attainment in primary school: pupils with better contexts – i.e. better individual, school and family background and experience – have higher scores in Key Stage 2 assessments in English, maths and science. However, these contexts do not act in isolation, but are closely related to one another, and their influence on children’s attainment is affected by these interrelationships. Furthermore, these results indicate that the interaction effects are greater for those with poor quality contexts. This suggests not only that there is scope to narrow the gaps in educational opportunity, but also that, where influence is possible, the greatest likely returns are for those whose background and experience are poor

Publisher: Centre for Research on the Wider Benefits of Learning, Institute of Education, University of London
Year: 2008
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