Session 1 abstract summaries

Welcome to session 1 on day 1 (10:35 -11:20)

Track 1 - Education inequalities

Life trajectories of the ‘forgotten fifth’

Study: Millennium Cohort Study
Lee Elliot Major, Exeter University and Sam Parsons, UCL Centre for Longitudinal Studies

We use the UK Millennium Cohort Study (MCS) to assess the academic trajectories of the 1 in 5 (18%) of teenagers in England who did not achieve a grade 4 pass in GCSE English language and maths. We find that half of pupils who ‘fail’ at age 16 were judged to be behind at age 5. We conclude that attempts to improve standards in English and maths will likely only succeed if high quality support is provided during pre-school, support is provided to improve the home learning environment, and teachers are able to identify, diagnose and respond appropriately to children falling behind.

School Absence Trajectories and their Consequences for Achievement

Study: Millennium Cohort Study
Jascha Drager, University of Strathclyde

Co-authors: Markus Klein and Edward Sosu

Using linked data of the Millennium Cohort Study and the National Pupil Database, we evaluate which trajectories of authorised and unauthorised absences emerge across entire school careers and how these absence trajectories affect achievement in the key stage 4 exams. We find seven distinct absence trajectories. Most children fall into a cluster with both low authorised and unauthorised absences throughout their entire school careers. Other trajectories are defined by either higher authorised absences or higher unauthorised absences or differ in terms of the persistence and the timing of absences. Absence trajectories have severe consequences for achievement.

Private school performance in GCSEs (and IGCSEs)

Study: Millennium Cohort Study
Jake Anders, UCL Centre for Education Policy & Equalising Opportunities

Co-authors: Francis Green, Morag Henderson and Golo Henseke

As schools’ main purpose, a key reason parents pay for private education is to secure superior academic attainment for their children. Using rich longitudinal data from the Millennium Cohort Study, we compare private and state school pupils’ GCSE performance. Performance among pupils attending private schools is, indeed, superior — as long as we count International GCSEs. These aren’t included in government performance measures, but are widely seen as equivalent by universities and employers. However, this difference ignores the highly socially selective nature of private schools. Adjusting only for socioeconomic background, the performance difference between the sectors disappears. If anything, the performance gap reverses for attainment in English, maths and science, but remains in favour of private schools for arts subjects.

Track 2 - Health behaviours, Adverse childhood experiences

The relationship between time spent on social media and adolescent cigarette, e-cigarette, and dual-use: a longitudinal analysis of the UK Millennium Cohort Study

Study: Millennium Cohort Study
Amrit Kaur Purba, University of Glasgow

Co-authors: Anna Pearce, Marion Henderson, Andrew Baxter and S Vittal Katikireddi

Social media has reshaped the adolescent communication landscape, offering benefits for adolescent health. Yet, its potential negative impact on adolescent health-risk behaviours has received considerable attention.

Existing evidence is predominately based on studies of US adolescents. The degree to which this relationship is causal or differs by socioeconomic position (and thus might widen inequalities), is unclear.

Accounting for observed confounders and reverse causality, our findings show social media use for ?30 minutes daily may increase risk of cigarette, e-cigarette and dual-use, in a dose-response manner. The influence of social media (vs no use) on cigarette use was especially strong for adolescent from less socioeconomically disadvantaged households.

Do adverse childhood experiences cluster together and how are they related to psychopathology?

Study: Millennium Cohort Study
Athena Chow, University of Oxford

The Dimensional Model of Adversity and Psychopathology (DMAP) established a framework for measuring adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) along dimensions of threat and deprivation. However, evidence supporting DMAP was mostly limited to small cross-sectional samples. We measured ACEs prospectively from infancy to mid-adolescence using data from the Millennium Cohort Study (N = 18,539). Exploratory factor analysis revealed three latent dimensions: deprivation, victimisation, and parental threat. All three dimensions were associated with adolescent psychopathology at age 17, and victimisation was more strongly associated with psychopathology compared to deprivation and parental threat. Findings provide partial support for DMAP, with further research needed to test if similar dimensions will replicate in other birth cohorts.

Modelling the potential impact on inequalities in childhood obesity of intervening on maternal smoking in pregnancy: A policy simulation using data from the UK Millennium Cohort Study

Study: Millennium Cohort Study
Steven Hope, University College London

Co-authors: Bianca De Stavola, Simon Russell, Moritz Herle, Maria Sifaki and Russell Viner

Inequalities in childhood obesity in the United Kingdom are marked and have widened in recent years. Early years risk factors have been linked to obesity, and the social patterning of risk factors (with higher prevalence in disadvantaged groups) is likely to be an important driver of childhood obesity inequalities. Using a causal mediation approach, we investigated whether the socioeconomic gradient in obesity at 7 years in the MCS would reduce following a hypothetical intervention to lower the prevalence of an exemplar risk factor (maternal smoking in pregnancy) across the population to that found in the most advantaged families.

Track 3 - Mental health, educational attainment

Anxiety problems in childhood and adolescence are associated with lower academic attainment throughout schooling: Evidence from the Millennium Cohort Study

Study: Millennium Cohort Study
Jack Pollard, University of Oxford

Anxiety problems are common amongst children and adolescents and can persist into adulthood. They are associated with poor educational and employment outcomes, although evidence is sparse and often focussed on countries outside of the UK. We examine the association between exposure to anxiety problems and academic attainment throughout childhood in England, drawing on the Millennium Cohort Study and linked National Pupil Database records. We find that anxiety problems in childhood and adolescence are associated with lower academic attainment throughout schooling, which is associated with considerable lifetime productivity losses.

Sibling effects on Numeracy and Literacy achievement: Evidence from Two Large French Cohorts

Study: ELFE
Lilas Gurgand, Ecole Normale Supérieure

Co-authors: Franck Ramus and Hugo Peyre

We studied the effect of the number and characteristics of siblings (sex and age), on school achievement from kindergarten to 5th grade, in two large French cohorts. Independently of socioeconomic status, we find that having more siblings is always negatively associated with school achievement (for older and younger siblings and brothers and sisters). Our results are in line with the resource dilution model but not with the confluence model. The family income moderates the association between siblings’ number and achievement scores, with a less negative association in wealthier families.

Racial inequalities in school exclusions and impacts on mental health trajectories among young people in inner-London: findings from the REACH study

Study: REACH
Samantha Davis, King’s College London

Co-authors: Charlotte Gayer-Anderson, Gemma Knowles, Rachel Blakey, Daniel Stanyon, Aisha Ofori, Katie Lowis, Alice Turner, Lynsey Dorn, Young Persons Community Champions, Schools Working Group, Jacqui Dyer, Kamaldeep Bhui and Craig Morgan

School exclusions exacerbate levels of inequality. Evidence suggests exclusions and mental distress co-occur but the impacts of exclusions on future mental health trajectories in diverse communities are unclear. We examined inequalities in and mental health impacts of exclusions in a representative cohort of adolescents in inner-London (n=3242; 11-16-year-olds; 85% minoritised ethnic groups). We found inequalities in exclusions e.g., Black Caribbean girls were 8 times more likely to be excluded (vs. White British girls). We used latent curve models to estimate trajectories of distress by exclusions and found greater distress among those excluded (vs. not). This gap largely persisted throughout school.

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