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Longer school days 'could help raise attainment'

18/06/2014 Kelly
Longer school days could be introduced in order to raise the attainment levels of children from white working-class backgrounds.

The Commons Education Select Committee has published a report into the underachievement of this social group, providing explanations for, and possible remedies to, the problem.

White working-class children of both sexes perform worse than any other ethnic group throughout their education. They are also more likely to play truant and less likely to do their homework. 

Youngsters from this background have more chance of leaving school with lower qualifications than other ethnic groups. Only 32 per cent of white working-class children obtain five A* - C grades at GCSE level, compared with 42 per cent of Black Caribbean children eligible for free school meals and 61 per cent of disadvantaged Indian children.

A number of different explanations are presented for this phenomenon. Leicester City Council told the Committee there was a culture of low aspirations and negative attitudes to education among the social group.

However, a report produced by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation says low aspirations are not a factor - high aspirations are present across all social groups, but there are different levels of belief in pupils' ability to achieve their goals.

According to the report, homework is a major factor in attainment levels, with many poorer children lacking a place in which they can study after school.

"The current trend towards longer school days presents an opportunity for schools to provide space and time for students from lower socioeconomic backgrounds to complete their homework, which may particularly benefit white working class children," the report says.

A number of other solutions to the problem are explored, with greater cooperation between schools advocated in order to spread best practice. It also says those in teaching jobs should be given incentives in order to attract the best teachers to poorly performing schools.

The report recommends greater research into the role of parental involvement in children's education to ascertain the extent to which this contributes to achievement and how greater involvement could be promoted.

Posted by Alan DouglasADNFCR-2164-ID-801729076-ADNFCR
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