Findings and impact of the National Child Development Study

IN DRAFT

Key findings

Families and home life

Family life

Findings from Next Steps have revealed that when study members were age 14 three quarters of them lived with both parents, and a quarter lived with only one. Almost half of teenagers had an evening meal with their family every day at this age.

At age 16 over seven in ten (71%) were living with both parents and more than a quarter (26%) were residing with a lone parent, the vast majority with their mother (23%). Only 3 per cent of them had left home at this age [1].

Positive relationships

Next Steps has shown that young people were more likely to do well at school if they had a good relationship with their parents. Around seven in ten teenagers who got on well with their parents stayed in full-time education after 16, compared to around half of those who had poor relationships.

Half of those who reported always having a family meal together at age 14 gained eight or more GSCEs at grade A*- C, compared to only a third of those who never ate a family meal together. Teenagers also appeared to do better at school if their parents set a curfew time, or didn’t allow them to go out, on a school night.

Young people whose parents rarely or never knew their whereabouts at age 14 were much more likely to not be in education, employment and training (NEET) at age 16.

Those who lived with both parents at age 16 were the most likely to still be in full-time education and the least likely to be NEET at age 18. Almost half (47%) of young people living with two parents went on to continue their studies and 13 per cent became NEET. In comparison, less than a third (27%) of those who lived with neither parent at 16 were in full-time education at 18, and 37 per cent were NEET [2].

Caring responsibilities

Next Steps has shown that at age 17 almost a third of young people had some kind of caring responsibility for younger children or ill, disabled or elderly relatives. Teenagers from Black African (46%) Caribbean (42%) and Pakistani (42%) origin were much more likely than white (25%) young people to care for others.

At age 18, those who regularly looked after children under 14, or ill, disabled or elderly adult relatives, were less likely to be in full-time education and were more likely to be NEET [3].

At this age only 1 per cent of young people were married, and a further 46 per cent were in a relationship. Of these two groups, 16 per cent lived with their spouse or partner.

 Parenthood

In addition to these relationships, by age 18, 4 per cent of young people had children of their own, compared with 1 per cent at age 16, and 3 per cent at age 17. Splitting this by gender, young women (6%) were twice as likely as young men (3%) to report becoming parents by the time they were age 18. Almost all young mothers (99%) had their children living with them at this age, compared to just over half of all young fathers (57%).

By age 17, just 3 per cent of young people had children of their own, with almost nine in ten (88%) living in the same household as them. Young mothers reported that family members were the most likely providers of childcare, with nearly two in five (37%) getting help from grandparents, and just under a fifth (18%) getting support from other relatives [4].

By 19, only 41 per cent of young fathers and 44 per cent of young mothers had gained the equivalent of 5 or more GCSEs at grades A*-C, compared to 85 per cent of their peers [5]. At this age almost seven in ten (69%) mothers who had their own child were not in education, employment or training. Nearly two in five (36%) fathers were also NEET at this age, compared to only one in ten (11%) of those who were not parents. However, young people who had become parents by age 19 (36% and 35%) were more likely to state being very satisfied with their life than young people without a child (27%) [6].

A fifth (20%) of young people who moved from NEET into employment at 19 said that support from friends and family had helped them get into work.

References

[1] Youth Cohort Study and Longitudinal Study of Young People in England: The Activities and Experiences of 16 year olds: England 2007. Department for Education.

[2] Youth Cohort Study and Longitudinal Study of Young People in England: The Activities and Experiences of 18 year olds: England 2009. Department for Education.

[3] Youth Cohort Study and Longitudinal Study of Young People in England: The Activities and Experiences of 18 year olds: England 2009. Department for Education.

[4] Youth Cohort Study and Longitudinal Study of Young People in England: The Activities and Experiences of 17 year olds: England 2008. Department for Education.

[5] Youth Cohort Study and Longitudinal Study of Young People in England: The Activities and Experiences of 19 year olds: England 2010. Department for Education.

[6] Youth Cohort Study and Longitudinal Study of Young People in England: The Activities and Experiences of 19 year olds: England 2010. Department for Education.

Education

Educational pathways

Findings from Next Steps have shown that at age 16 almost two thirds of young people had achieved five or more GCSEs grades A* to C. However, attainment gaps between people from advantaged and disadvantaged backgrounds were apparent, with more than eight in ten (81%) from the richest homes obtaining good GCSEs, compared to just over a third (34%) for those from the poorest [1].

Factors such as attitudes to school, future aspirations and being bullied were all associated with educational attainment. In Year 9, teenagers who said they enjoyed school, thought it was worthwhile, and wanted to continue their education after 16 all had greater odds of achieving five good GCSEs. However, young people who reported they had been bullied in the past 12 months were more likely to have a negative attitude towards school, which lowered their odds of gaining good GCSE results [2].

One study found that a fifth of pupils who did well at school at age 11 did not go on to university. More than three quarters (76%) of pupils who achieved high scores in their Key Stage 2 tests at age 11 had applied for a university place by age 20. However, this dropped to 66 per cent for able children from less advantaged homes, compared to 85 per cent with wealthy parents [3].

Attitudes to education

Young people’s attitudes to school at age 13 appeared to predict whether they would go on to university. Just over half (51%) of those who had the most positive attitudes to school in Year 9 moved into higher education, compared to only 8 per cent of those who showed the least positive attitudes [4]. And at age 14, those who thought they would apply to university scored on average, 18 points higher at GCSE [5].

Findings from Next Steps showed that parents’ expectations can positively influence their children’s educational attainment, especially for girls. They were more likely to go to university, enrol on an apprenticeship or make positive career choices if they had encouraging parents at age 13/14. The aspirations of parents were most helpful for girls who were struggling at school [6]. Another study found a relationship between a mother’s education and their children’s test scores. The children of mothers with at least GCSE-level qualifications had significantly higher Key Stage test scores than the children of mothers with no qualifications [7].

Month of birth effect

Researchers using Next Steps have revealed that the month you were born can affect educational attainment up to age 16 as well as subsequent enrolment in higher education at university or college. Children born in August performed significantly worse in Key Stage assessments taken at ages 7, 11 and 14, as well as in their GCSEs, compared to their classmates born almost a year earlier. The youngest children were more likely to leave education after their GCSEs, and less likely to go on to university [8].

Higher education

Next Steps has found that more than half of those (56%) who stayed in education at age 16 were still in education when they reached age 19.

By age 19, almost two thirds (57%) of young people had achieved the equivalent of two or more ‘A’-Levels. However, poverty and disadvantage appeared to affect educational attainment, with 77 per cent of those from the richest backgrounds gaining these qualifications, compared to just 35 per cent of those from the poorest.

At this age, two in five (40%) people had started university, but participation in higher education differed by parents’ academic achievement. Almost seven in ten young people who had a parent with a degree were at university, compared to just over a quarter (28%) of those whose parents had obtained only GCSEs.

Alternatives to education

For those who had not stayed in education past 16, a third had moved into work, 3 per cent had started vocational training, such as an apprenticeship, and 10 per cent were not in education, employment or training (NEET) [9].

A quarter of young people were NEET once between the ages of 16-19, and 3 per cent had been so three or more times. People who came from poorer backgrounds were more likely to be NEET, and also typically had longer spells not in education, employment or training. Almost half (45%) of young people eligible for free school meals in Year 11 were NEET for at least six consecutive months between 16-19, compared with 21 per cent of those who were not eligible for free school meals.

References

[1] Youth Cohort Study and Longitudinal Study of Young People in England: The Activities and Experiences of 16 year olds: England 2007 Statistical Bulletin, Department for Education (2008) Department for Education.

[2] Youth Cohort Study and Longitudinal Study of Young People in England: The Activities and Experiences of 16 year olds: England 2007 Statistical Bulletin, Department for Education (2008) Department for Education.

[3] Teenagers’ expectations of applying to university: How do they change? (2013) Micklewright and Anders. Education Sciences, 5(4).

[4] Youth Cohort Study and Longitudinal Study of Young People in England: The Activities and Experiences of 18 year olds: England 2009 Statistical Bulletin, Department for Education (2010) Department for Education.

[5] Drivers and Barriers to Educational Success (2009) Chowdry, Crawford and Goodman. London: Institute for Fiscal Studies.

[6] Teenage pregnancy and motherhood in England: do parents’ educational expectations matter? (2015) Rascon-Ramirez. Conference Paper, Royal Economic Society Conference 2015.

[7] Drivers and Barriers to Educational Success (2009) Chowdry, Crawford and Goodman. London: Institute for Fiscal Studies.

[8] When You Are Born Matters: The Impact of Date of Birth on Educational Outcomes in England (2010) Crawford, Dearden and Meghir. London: Institute for Fiscal Studies.

[9] Youth Cohort Study and Longitudinal Study of Young People in England: The Activities and Experiences of 19 year olds: England 2010 Statistical Bulletin, Department for Education (2011) Department for Education.

Employment

Career dreams

Findings from Next Steps have revealed that at age 14 one in five young people (55% male; 45% female) didn’t know what type of career they wanted to pursue after they finished school. Teenagers who were from less advantaged backgrounds and those who didn’t perform well in Key Stage 2 assessments at age 11 were more likely to be uncertain about their future work plans at age 14.

However, surprisingly, researchers found that when disadvantaged young people, who may have struggled academically in the past, believed in themselves, were engaged in school, and also had parents who had high expectations and gave useful career advice, their career uncertainty became an educational advantage. They tended to go on to do better in their GCSE exams and were more likely to continue in education after the age of 18, than their counterparts who had loftier career aspirations [1].

Starting work

Information from Next Steps has shown that more than a fifth (21%) of young people first started work at age 16 and almost a quarter (23%) entered employment at 17. Eleven per cent started work at 18, and just 3 per cent at 19.

By age 19, 37 per cent of young people were working, 45 per cent were still in education, and 4 per cent were in government-supported training, such as an apprenticeship. Fourteen per cent were not in education, employment or training (NEET) [2]. Almost seven in ten (69%) of young people who were in employment at age 16 remained so at 19, and almost half (49%) of those NEET at age 16 were also NEET at 19.

Challenges

One study found that the generation taking part in Next Steps faced greater difficulties entering the labour market than the Baby Boomers and Generation X before them. Around 12 per cent of school leavers born in 1990 faced challenges, such as extended periods of unemployment and job instability, compared to only 4 per cent of those born three decades earlier [3].

At age 16, White (23%) and Mixed (18%) young people were the most likely to enter employment with Black African (2%) the least likely. By age 18 young people in employment were most likely to be white (36% compared to 33% overall), from lower supervisory (43%) or routine (37%) backgrounds, have parents qualified to below A Level standard (37%) and were less likely to have attained higher level qualifications themselves [4].

Apprenticeships

Between the ages of 16-19, 11 per cent of young people had been in an apprenticeship. Males (14%) were more likely than females (8%) to have been enrolled in one. White young people were the ethnic group most likely to have been in an apprenticeship (12%), compared to mixed (7%), Pakistani and Black Caribbean (6%).

The majority of young people were positive about their apprenticeship at age 18, with four fifths (89%) agreeing or agreeing strongly with the statement, “I wanted to do something practical rather than academic”. Although 87 per cent thought the quality of the training they were receiving was very good or good, a third thought pay could be improved [5].

Job satisfaction

Findings from Next Steps have shown that at age 18 the majority of young people who were in employment or training were satisfied with their vocation at age 19. More than four fifths (83%) of those in training schemes, such as apprenticeships, and 77 per cent of those in work were either very satisfied or fairly satisfied.

At age 20, young people were asked how satisfied they were with how their lives had turned out so far. There were no significant differences between those at university, those in apprenticeships and those in work. Young people who were NEET were the least satisfied at age 20.

Zero-hours contracts

Findings from Next Steps have shown that at age 25 people working shifts and in zero-hours contracts were less likely to report good health and were at greater risk of mental ill health than the rest of the workforce. Those who were unemployed had double the odds of having psychological problems compared to those in work. At age 25, seven in ten (70%) people were employed full-time, around one in ten (11%) part-time and 6 per cent were unemployed. Of those in work, more than a fifth (22%) were working shifts, and 5 per cent were on zero-hours contracts [6].

References

[1] Correlates and consequences of uncertainty in career aspirations: Gender differences among adolescents in England (2012) Gutman and Schoon. Journal of Vocational Behavior.

[2] Youth Cohort Study and Longitudinal Study of Young People in England: The Activities and Experiences of 19 year olds: England 2010 (2011) Department for Education.

[3] What young English people do once they reach school-leaving age: A cross-cohort comparison for the last 30 years (2015) Anders and Dorsett. London: Centre for Longitudinal Studies.

[4] Youth Cohort Study and Longitudinal Study of Young People in England: The Activities and Experiences of 18 year olds: England 2009 (2010) Department for Education.

[5] Youth Cohort Study and Longitudinal Study of Young People in England: The Activities and Experiences of 18 year olds: England 2009 (2010) Department for Education.

[6] Economic activity and health – Initial findings from Next Steps Age 25 Sweep (2017) Henderson. London: Centre for Longitudinal Studies.

Risky behaviours

Findings from Next Steps have shown that at age 13 more than half (55%) of young people had tried alcohol, but by 18 this had risen to nine in ten (93%) [1]. At this age, two in five (43%) reported drinking once or twice a week, 15 per cent said they drank three or four times a week, and 7 per cent reported drinking almost every day. Only 2 per cent said they had not drunk at all in the past year.

Researchers found that between the ages of 14 and 16, young people who had been bullied in the last year were up to five times more likely to drink most days than those who had not [2]. Another study showed that young people who identified as being lesbian, gay or bisexual were more likely to smoke and drink alcohol at age 18 [3].

It was less common for teenagers to smoke cigarettes and use cannabis in their early teens, with only around one in ten trying either at age 13. At age 18 this had increased to almost half (46%) of all young people.

At age 19, cannabis was the most common drug taken by young people in the four weeks prior to the survey interview. Cocaine was the next most common (3%), followed by ketamine, ecstasy and mephedrone (2%) [4].

Educational attainment

Researchers found that those young people who engaged in risky behaviours at age 13 tended to fare worse in their GCSE exams, and were also less likely to continue their studies after leaving compulsory education at 16. Two thirds (58%) of all young people achieved 5 A*-C grades at GCSE, compared to only a third (33%) of those who had smoked cigarettes, and 45 per cent of those who had tried cannabis.

By age 17, less than one in ten (8%) of all teens were not in education, employment or training (NEET), compared to a fifth (21%) of those who had smoked cigarettes at and 15 per cent of those who had tried cannabis at age 13 [5].

White and mixed young people were the groups most likely to have engaged in risky behaviours (61%), compared to Pakistani (27%) and Indian (28%) teens, who were the least likely.

Between the ages of 14-16, those with the greatest odds of engaging in risky behaviours tended to have a negative attitude towards school, had experienced bullying, had poor relationships with their parents and lived in single-parent families [6].

However, another study found that young people from disadvantaged backgrounds were only slightly more likely to engage in risky behaviours. At age 15, 57 per cent of those eligible for free school meals had done so, compared to 56 per cent of those more advantaged teens.

Researchers found that children who performed well at school at age 11 were more likely to use cannabis during their late teenage years, compared to those who showed less academic promise.

Those who achieved high scores in their Key Stage 2 English, Maths and Science assessments were more likely to use cannabis than low scoring pupils when they reached their late teens.

High scoring pupils were more than twice as likely to drink alcohol regularly during late adolescence, compared to those who gained low scores. They also had greater odds of consuming alcohol during their early teenage years. Nevertheless, the most academically able children were less likely to smoke cigarettes than their fellow pupils in early adolescence [7].

Sexual activity

By age 19, 88 per cent of young people reported they had had sex, and 7 per cent had at least one child of their own. Women from less advantaged backgrounds were more likely to have been pregnant, and to have become mothers, by the age of 18 than those from wealthier homes.

Over half (55%) of young people who were sexually active at age 19 or younger reported they had had sex without precautions or contraception. Those who had never tried alcohol (60%) or cannabis (57%) were more likely to report they always had sex with precautions or contraception, compared to those who had drunk alcohol (45%) or had tried cannabis (36%) [8].

Young people who stated their religion as Muslim, Sikh or Hindu at age 15 were less likely to report they had had sex at age 19 or younger (45%, 62% and 62% respectively) than those who said they were Christian (89%), or who had no religion (94%) [9].

References

[1] Youth Cohort Study & Longitudinal Study of Young People in England: The Activities and Experiences of 18 year olds: England 2009.  Department for Education.

[2] Young people’s alcohol consumption and its relationship to other outcomes and behaviour (2010) Green and Ross. Department for Education.

[3] Sexual orientation identity in relation to smoking history and alcohol use at age 18/19 (2013) Hagger-Johnson, Taibjee, Semlyen, Fitchie, Fish, Meads and Varney. BMJ Open.

[4] Youth Cohort Study & Longitudinal Study of Young People in England: The Activities and Experiences of 19 year olds: England 2010. Department for Education.

[5] Youth Cohort Study & Longitudinal Study of Young People in England: The Activities and Experiences of 16 year olds: England 2007. Department for Education.

[6] Risky behaviour and social activities (2009) Cebulla and Tomaszewski. Natcen Research Report.

[7] Childhood academic ability in relation to cigarette, alcohol and cannabis use form adolescence into early adulthood: Longitudinal Study of Young People in England (LSYPE) by James Williams and Gareth Hagger-Johnson

[8] Youth Cohort Study & Longitudinal Study of Young People in England: The Activities and Experiences of 19 year olds: England 2010. Department for Education. BMJ Open.

[9] Youth Cohort Study & Longitudinal Study of Young People in England: The Activities and Experiences of 19 year olds: England 2010. Department for Education.

Bullying

Findings from Next Steps have shown that at age 14 almost half (47%) of young people reported being bullied. This decreased to 41 per cent at age 15 and to less than a third (29%) at age 16.

Young people with special educational needs (SEN), teenagers with a disability, those who provided care to friends or family, and those who had spent a period of time in social care had the greatest odds of being bullied between the ages of 14 and 16. Teenagers with a disability were more likely than those without a disability to be called names or to be excluded from friendship groups. Girls also tended to be bullied more than boys at the ages of 14 and 15, but not at 16 [1].

Impact of bullying

Bullying had a negative impact on teenagers’ educational attainment and routes into further education and employment. On average, those who reported being bullied did substantially worse in their GSCE exams. Just over a half (52%) of those who were bullied achieved 5 good GCSEs compared to almost seven in ten (67%) of those who were not bullied. Those who reported having been bullied were twice as likely to not be in education, employment or training (NEET) at age 16.

Vulnerable young people, such as those with SEN and those with disabilities were the most likely groups to be bullied at age 16. More than eight in ten who had SEN (83%) and those who were disabled (81%) reported being bullied over the past 3 years, compared to 66 per cent of their peers [2].

Another study showed that teenagers with SEN were twice as likely to suffer from persistent bullying. At age 15, more than a quarter (27%) of children with SEN were bullied all the time, compared to 16 per cent of their peers [3].

Mental health

Next Steps has shown that at age 17 young people who had been bullied (44%) in the past year were twice as likely to report feeling more depressed than usual compared to those who hadn’t been bullied (22%). Those who had been bullied also had much greater odds of reporting low self-confidence and feeling worthless more than usual [4].

Research comparing Next Steps with a later generation of teenagers has revealed that ten thousand fewer pupils were bullied every day in 2014 than ten years earlier. Bullying among 14-year-olds fell dramatically over this period, with 30,000 fewer pupils reporting they had been bullied in the last 12 months and 30,000 fewer claiming that they had been victims of violent bullying [5].

Another study found that lesbian, gay and bisexual (LGB) young people were more likely than their heterosexual classmates to be bullied throughout secondary school and into adulthood. Between the ages of 14 and 16 young people who went on to identify as LGB had a 56 per cent chance of having been bullied in the past year, compared to a 45 per cent chance for their heterosexual peers. At age 20, young LGB adults had a 52 per cent chance of having been bullied in the past year compared to a 38 per cent chance for their heterosexual counterparts [6].

References

[1] Characteristics of bullying victims in schools (2009) Green, Collingwood and Ross. Department for Education.

[2] Youth Cohort Study and Longitudinal Study of Young People in England: The Activities and Experiences of 16 year olds: England 2007. Department for Education.

[3] Bullying experiences among disabled children and young people: Evidence from two British longitudinal studies (2014) Chatzitheochari, Parsons and Platt. QSS Working Paper.

[4] Youth Cohort Study and Longitudinal Study of Young People in England: The Activities and Experiences of 17 year olds: England 2008. Department for Education.

[5] Longitudinal study of young people in England: cohort 2, wave 1 Research report (2014) Baker, Dawson, Thair and Youngs. Department for Education.

[6] Understanding bullying among sexual minority youths in England (2015) Henderson. London: Centre for Longitudinal Studies.

Impact

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Evidence and impact

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