Disadvantaged learners – the solution?

I picked up some interesting information from a Sutton Trust report on schools and how they support able children and gifted children from disadvantaged backgrounds – some of the key findings are:

The research took into account student’s own reports of the amounts of homework being done and found a very strong relationship with success. Students who reported spending 2-3 hours daily on homework in Year 11were nine times more likely to get three A-levels than those who did no regular homework. The report suggests this is a good measure as it is likely to reflect not just student motivation, study skills and independence, but also the value schools put on encouraging students to work at home and parental attitudes and support.

Both these reports should encourage schools and school consortia or trusts to reflect on how effectively they assess the potential of all their students, but especially the most able students from disadvantaged backgrounds; how they subsequently challenge them appropriately through learning and extra-curricular activities; and how they provide feedback and support in order that they can make further progress. The Sutton Trust report argues that policy could also ensure schools have the extra support they need (through for example ‘enrichment vouchers’) to provide the additional extra-curricular and cultural activities that disadvantaged yet able students, particularly boys, need.

Bright but disadvantaged students obtained significantly better GCSE results when they had engaged in quality out of school academic enrichment activities such as educational outings or reading at home. Students who reported a more positive experience of secondary school also had better examination results. This better experience might be in terms of (a) a high emphasis on learning (b) the head teacher being around and involved in the school’s activities (c) students feeling valued, and (d) relationships between students and teachers that they saw as trusting, respectful and fair.

In summary children need better support in the transition between primary and secondary schools and extra curricular work is key to supporting children’s development so that they can realise full potential. All this requires resource and ££££ – tricky with a Givernment hell bent on further cuts.

This blog is for UNICEF.

Thanks for reading. 

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