Foskett, Nick, Dyke, Martin and Maringe, Felix
The influence of the school on the decision to participate in learning post 16.
In, Annual conference of the British Educational Research Association, Edinburgh, Scotland,
11 - 13 Sep 2003.
The paper reports on work in progress for a Department for Education and Skills (DfES) funded research project on “The Influence of the School in the Decision to Participate in Learning Post-16”. The primary aim of the project is to identify the nature and influence of school-based factors in the choices of young people about their post-16 education, training and career pathways. Twenty-four schools were selected to represent schools with rising attainment. The sampling frame included schools both with and without sixth forms, in nine Metropolitan, Urban Unitary, and Shire County Local Education Authorities (LEAs)in Engaland. A profile of schools whose ‘catchment’ areas represented different social and economic status was created using data on the number of pupils receiving free schools meals. Schools with and schools without rising levels of participation post-16 were also included in the sample. Pupils from Year 11 and Year 10 were interviewed in single sex focus groups providing a total of 48 pupils in each school. Each pupil interviewed completed a questionnaire. Year 11 pupils will also take part in follow up interviews planned for Autumn 2003 when they have left compulsory education. Semi-structured interviews were also carried out with head teachers, senior careers teachers and Year 11 tutors, LEA and local Connexions service representatives. The study also analysed secondary data relating to each school to build a profile for the schools in terms of its social and economic context, ethos and organisation. The secondary data included; inspection reports, DfeS and LEA published data for each school as well as school produced promotional material.
The study identified the attitudes and preferences of the pupils, their teachers and advisors towards post-16 education and training. The factors that influenced the pupils’, the teachers’ and advisors’ attitudes and preferences were identified and compared to those factors considered in previous research. The DfES commissioned the study to look specifically at the influence of the school rather than factors beyond the school, and aimed at contributing an understanding of the impact of schooling, thereby informing the policy development for widening participation post-16. In addition to the investigation of school based factors that influence the choices young people make about post- 16 learning the study had two other aims:
To identify implications for the development of careers education and guidance and decision making awareness amongst pupils in schools.
To enhance further the modelling of pupil decision-making in education and training markets, and in the labour markets.
This paper considers some of the preliminary findings of the research, carried out in 2003.
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