Working papers

Here you can search our series of working papers, dating back to 1983. These papers use data from our four cohort studies and cover a wide range of topics, from social inequalities and mobility, to physical health, education and cognitive development. Other papers in the series seek to improve the practice of longitudinal research. At the present time, we are only able to accept papers if at least one author is a member of the CLS research team. Some of the working papers below will subsequently have been published in peer-reviewed journals.

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Working papers

Inequalities and the curriculum – young people’s views on choice and fairness through their experiences of curriculum as examination specifications at GCSE- CLS working paper 2017/6

Rhian Barrance and Jannette Elwood consider ways in which young people experience the curriculum through the lens of subject examination syllabuses (for GCSEs), their associated assessment techniques and structures and educational policies at national and school level concerning subject choice.  Drawing upon an original qualitative dataset from a mixed-methods study of students’ views and experiences of GCSE from Northern Ireland (NI) and Wales, the paper explores students’ perceptions of choice and fairness in relation to studying various subjects at GCSE and the freedoms they feel they have to make valid and relevant choices of what to study.

Keywords: education, curriculum planning, equality, subject choice, mixed-methods.

Author: Rhian Barrance and Jannette Elwood
Date published: 11 July 2017
Working papers

Inequalities and the curriculum – philosophical debates on the curriculum and social justice- CLS working paper 2017/5

Richard Pring provides a historical but critical context for examining the relation of the pursuit of greater equality in schooling to the development of curriculum. The different ways of conceptualising equality are explained in terms of:

• ‘rational curriculum planning’ with its detailed definition of ‘aims, objectives, methods and evaluation – and thereby a ‘science of teaching’;

• ‘forms of knowledge’ or ‘realms of meaning’ to enable all pupils to have a basic understanding of the physical, social and moral worlds they inhabit;

• the pursuit of enquiry through which, for all learners, understanding is enlarged;

• provision of common curriculum experience as a basis for citizenship;

• taking diversity seriously.

Keywords: education, curriculum planning, equality.

Author: Richard Pring
Date published: 4 July 2017
Working papers

Working at a different level? Curriculum differentiation in Irish lower secondary education- CLS working paper 2017/4

Emer Smyth draws on a mixed methods longitudinal study of students in twelve case-study schools to trace the school and student factors influencing take-up of higher level subjects within lower secondary Irish education.

The paper draws on data from the Post-Primary Longitudinal Study (PPLS) conducted over the period 2002 to 2008. The initial stage of the PPLS involved a postal survey of all (over 700) secondary school principals, with a response rate of 78 per cent.  The survey data were used to identify case-study schools for a more in-depth analysis of young people’s experiences in the early years of secondary education.

Keywords: mixed-mode, education, Irish Republic, higher-level subject choice.

Author: Emer Smyth
Date published: 15 June 2017
Working papers

Inequalities in school leavers’ labour market outcomes- CLS working paper 2017/3

Cristina Iannelli and Adriana Duta explore inequalities in young people’s labour market outcomes, examining differences in the employment chances of young people who left education early, either at the end of compulsory schooling or at the end of secondary school. Using data from the Scottish Longitudinal Study, the authors found little gender differences but strong parental background differences in school leavers’ employment status and type of occupation entered. Overall ‘curriculum’ appeared to be more important in predicting labour market outcomes among upper-secondary leavers while grades were more important in predicting the same outcomes among lower-secondary leavers. Only a few subjects were associated with a reduction in the chances of being unemployed/inactive.

Keywords:  Scottish Longitudinal Study, SLS, education, early-leavers, emplpoyment.

Author: Cristina Iannelli and Adriana Duta
Date published: 9 June 2017
Working papers

A measurement evaluation of a six item measure of quality of life (CASP6)- CLS working paper 2017/2

Dick Wiggins, Matt Brown and George Ploubidis evaluate the performance of a reduced six-item self-report (CASP6) of a broader 12-item version of a quality of life measure (CASP-12, v2). The analytical assessment focusses on examining the impact of the mode of data collection on the measurement properties of CASP6 in the context of an evaluation of the ‘sequential mixed-mode’ design adopted for the NCDS Age 55 Survey, where cohort members were first invited to complete the survey online, then by telephone if they had not completed the online survey after 5 weeks. A general-specific measurement model including two first order factors to capture both the unidimensionality of the scale and a specific method factor to identify negatively worded items across modes revealed a good fit. Similar assessments for either online or telephone alone and mixed mode with a telephone option revealed confirmatory results for the use of CASP6 as a standalone measure of quality of life.

Keywords:  NCDS, 1958 cohort, well-being, CASP.

Author: Dick Wiggins, Matt Brown and George Ploubidis
Date published: 8 June 2017
Working papers

Grandparent investment and young children’s cognitive and non-cognitive outcomes in the UK- CLS working paper 2017/1

Antti Tanskanen and Mirkka Danielsbacka investigate the relationship between grandparental investment and child outcomes using data from the first 3 waves of the UK Millennium Cohort Study, including children between the ages of 9 months and 5 years (n = 25,446 person-observations from 14,065 unique individuals). Grandparental investment was measured by parent-grandparent contact frequency and grandparental financial support. Child cognitive development was measured using the British Ability Scale and emotional and behavioral problems measured using the Strength and Difficulties Questionnaire. The results showed grandparental investment is associated with increased cognitive assessment and decreased problems among children. However, these associations occurred because of between-person effects and did not hold for within-person analyses that compare the same participants over time. So the results did not provide evidence for a causal association between grandparental investment and child outcomes.

Keywords:  Child well-being, fixed-effects regression, grandchildren, grandparents, Millennium Cohort Study.

Author: Antti O Tanskanen and Mirkka Danielsbacka
Date published: 9 May 2017
Working papers

Social Class, Gender and Ethnic Differences in Subjects Taken at Age 14- CLS working paper 2016/6

Morag Henderson, Alice Sullivan, Jake Anders and Vanessa Moulton identify patterns of subject and qualification choices made at age 14.  Previous ‘subject choice’ research has focussed on the later stages of educational trajectories, particularly Higher Education.  But the choices made at early branching points can limit pupils’ subsequent options, potentially contributing to educational inequalities. This paper identifies the patterns of GCSE subjects chosen by a cohort of young people born in 1989/1990, making use of the Next Steps data (formerly the LSYPE) which is linked to the National Pupil Database.  The authors develop an approach to measuring the academic selectivity of subjects and qualifications, examining the roles of social class, parental education, income, gender and ethnicity in determining participation in these curriculum groupings. Using measures of prior attainment from age thirteen, the authors address the question of whether curriculum differentials simply reflect differences in prior attainment or whether they actually operate above and beyond existing inequalities.

Keywords: Next Steps, LSYPE, social class, parental education, income, gender, ethnicity, inequality,

Author: Morag Henderson, Alice Sullivan, Jake Anders and Vanessa Moulton
Date published: 12 December 2016
Working papers

Social origins, elite education and elite destinations- CLS working paper 2016/5

Alice Sullivan, Sam Parsons, Francis Green and Dick Wiggins examine pathways to high socio-economic positions for men and women born in Britain in 1970.  Their analysis draws on the 1970 British Cohort Study (BCS70), exploiting data from birth to age 42.  The paper provides a comprehensive account of the way in which cognitive and educational attainment mediate the link between social origins and elite destinations in terms of social class and earnings in mid-life. The authors assess the roles of private and selective secondary schools, and of high-status universities and fields of study.  The finding is that, once a sufficiently detailed picture of educational attainment is taken into account, education fully explains the link between social origins and top social class destinations.

Keywords: British Cohort Study 1970, BCS70, social mobility, education, social class.

Author: Alice Sullivan, Sam Parsons, Francis Green and Richard Wiggins
Date published: 4 October 2016
Working papers

Early adiposity rebound, birthweight, and ethnicity – evidence from the millennium cohort study- CLS working paper 2016/4

Jessamy Lowe uses data from MCS Sweeps 1-4 to explore the early occurrence of the adiposity rebound (normal age 5-7 years), defined by the IOTF as a difference in z-scores between two ages ‘greater than 0.67’.

This additional weight represents an increase in fat mass as opposed to lean mass, with ‘early rebounders’ showing rates of gain in fat mass more than double those of ‘late rebounders’. This results in children who experience EAR developing different body compositions, with increased (predominantly central) adiposity.

Keywords: Millennium Cohort Study, adiposity, weight gain, fat mass, BMI.


Author: Jessamy Lowe
Date published: 3 October 2016
Working papers

Higher Education and Occupational Returns – do returns vary according to students’ social origins- CLS working paper 2016/3

This paper uses data from the BCS70 to learn more about the ‘social-levelling effect’ of having a degree: it’s known that graduates from different social backgrounds tend to do equally well in the first few years following graduation, but how does this picture evolve in the longer-term?

Keywords: BCS70, education, social class, social mobility, degree, graduate, gender equality.


Author: Sam Parsons, Francis Green, Alice Sullivan and Dick Wiggins
Date published: 12 May 2016
Working papers

Going online with the National Child Development Study: Design decisions during the development of the Age 55 web survey- CLS working paper 2016/2

The National Child Development Study (NCDS) Age 55 Survey adopted a sequential mixed-mode design whereby study members were first invited to participate online, with non-respondents being followed up by telephone.

This CLS working paper provides a summary of the design decisions taken to maximise the quality of the data collected via the web, and is intended to aid those considering administering a similar survey. The paper describes the design of the web survey (in the mixed mode context) and the contact strategy employed to encourage participation via the web.

Author: Matt Brown
Date published: 1 May 2016
Working papers

Out of school activities during primary school and KS2 attainment- CLS working paper 2016/1

This CLS working paper aimed to investigate whether taking part in out of school activities during primary school is linked with end of primary school attainment and social, emotional and behavioural outcomes, for all children and specifically for children from economically disadvantaged backgrounds.

Author: Jenny Chanfreau, Emily Tanner, Meg Callanan, Karen Laing, Amy Skipp and Liz Todd
Date published: 1 April 2016
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