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  • Writer's pictureMatt Easterbrook

Inequalities in home learning: Pupil motivation

Research Report #4 (motivation)xx
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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.

The focus of this report is on inequalities in pupils’ motivation to home learn. The results are based primarily on parents’ responses to the question “How motivated to home learn is your child?”

Our analyses reveal that there are a number of disparities in motivation 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 be much worse for children in secondary schools than primary schools. Our results imply that the school closures may exacerbate existing educational inequalities and the groups who have been worst affected may need extra support to recover lost ground.


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

  • 21% primary school pupils were very motivated to learn from home compared with only 16% of secondary pupils.

Inequalities by gender.

  • Stark gender differences emerged at both primary and secondary levels, where boys were much more likely to be unmotivated than girls.

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

Inequalities between key worker and non-key worker parents.

  • There were no major differences in motivation 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 motivation.

  • However, in secondary schools, 28% of FSM-eligible pupils were not motivated to learn from home at all, whereas only 16% of non-FSM eligible pupils shared this lack of motivation. Similarly, only 10% of FSM-eligible pupils were very motivated to home learn in contrast with 19% of non-FSM eligible pupils.

  • As with our previously reported results, these findings highlight a concerning divergence of pupils who are and are not eligible for free school meals, which appears to be much worse for children in secondary schools. If not addressed, the lower levels of motivation 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 motivated to home learn than pupils whose parents are financially struggling.

  • Most notably, however, among secondary pupils, those from households that were struggling financially were only half as likely to be very motivated 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 motivated to home learn than children of non-graduates. This was most evident among children who had no motivation at all – over 19% of children of non-graduates but only 14% of children of graduates.

  • At the secondary level, these differences generally became more pronounced. Once again, children of non-graduates were more likely to be unmotivated than children of graduates.

  • Only 14% of children of non-graduates were very motivated, in comparison with 21% of children of graduates.

Research Report #4 (motivation)xx
Download PDF • 532KB

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