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  • Writer's pictureMatt Easterbrook

Inequalities in Home Learning: Pupil engagement

Executive Summary

These results are based on analyses of the final sample of 5528 responses collected between 5th May and 31st July. Of these, 2075 responses were from teachers and 3409 from parents of school-aged children in the UK. The results in this report are based on the responses of parents.

Download the full report here:

Research Report #3_Pupil Engagement
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The focus of this report is on inequalities in engagement with home learning. The results are based on parents’ responses to the question “How engaged with home learning is your child?”.

Our analyses reveal that there are a number of disparities in engagement based on pupils’ characteristics and family background. The results suggest that the groups most adversely affected are boys, children who are eligible for free school meals, and those whose parents indicated they are struggling financially. Also of concern is the finding that these inequalities appear to worsen as children move from the primary to secondary stage. Our results imply that the school closures may exacerbate existing educational inequalities. The groups who have been worst affected may need extra support to recover lost ground.

Overall engagement and motivation for home learning in primary and secondary school pupils.

  • 21% primary school pupils were very engaged compared with only 16% of secondary pupils.

Inequalities by gender.

  • Stark gender differences emerged in terms of engagement.

  • At both primary and secondary levels, boys were much more likely to be not at all engaged than girls.

  • Gender differences were most evident in secondary pupils, where girls were twice as likely to be very engaged as boys.

Inequalities between key worker and non-key worker parents.

  • There were no major differences in engagement between children with at least one key worker parent and children without key worker parents.

Inequalities by pupils’ eligibility for free school meals.

  • Among primary school pupils, there were minimal differences between children who were and were not eligible for free school meals (FSM) in terms of engagement.

  • At secondary level, 18% of pupils eligible for FSM were not at all engaged with home learning compared with 13% of non-FSM eligible pupils. 14% of FSM-eligible pupils were very engaged compared with 22% of those who were not eligible.

  • As with our previously reported results (see Reports #1 and #2), these findings highlight a concerning divergence of pupils who are and are not eligible for free school meals. If not addressed, the lower levels of engagement of children eligible for FSM could have lasting consequences for their educational attainment and future outcomes.

Inequalities by family financial situation.

  • There are inequalities based on parents’ self-reported financial situation, with pupils of parents who are financially comfortable tending to be more engaged in[ME1] home learning than pupils whose parents are financially struggling. However, these results are quite complex and not always linear.

  • Most notably, however, among secondary pupils, those from households that were struggling financially were only half as likely to be very engaged as children from households with a comfortable level of income.

Inequalities between graduate and non-graduate parents.

  • In the primary stage, the children of graduates were more likely to be engaged in their home learning than children of non-graduates.

  • At the secondary level, these differences generally became more pronounced. Once again, children of non-graduates were more likely to be not at all engaged than children of graduates.

  • 18% of children of non-graduates were very engaged as opposed to 23% children of graduates.

Download the full report here:

Research Report #3_Pupil Engagement
Download PDF • 531KB

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