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.

For more information about our working papers series, please email us at

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Browse working papers by type, study, theme etc. Select one or more filters to refine your search and click the search button below.

Document type

Life Stage


National Child Development Study

Next Steps

1970 British Cohort Study

Millennium Cohort Study

Working papers

Prevalence and trends in overweight and obesity in childhood and adolescence- CLS working paper 2017/16

This working paper analyses objective data on BMI and overweight/obesity status among
adolescents aged 14 in 2015.

Author: Emla Fitzsimons and Benedetta Pongiglione
Date published: 12 December 2017
Working papers

Measuring young people’s physical activity using accelerometers in the UK Millennium Cohort Study- CLS working paper 2017/15

This paper presents the approach taken to the implementation of activity monitors on the main stage of the Millennium Cohort Study Age 14 Survey, and highlights a number of considerations for the implementation of objective physical activity data collection in large-scale face-to-face surveys.

Author: Emily Gilbert, Anne Conolly, Stephan Tietz, Lisa Calderwood and Nickie Rose
Date published: 29 November 2017
Working papers

The intergenerational transmission of vocabulary- CLS working paper 2017/14

This paper examines the relationship between parents’ and children’s vocabulary scores for a nationally representative birth cohort born in the UK – the Millennium Cohort Study (MCS). We investigate both socio-economic and ethnic differentials in children’s vocabulary scores, and the role of differences in parents’ vocabulary scores in accounting for these.

Author: Alice Sullivan, Vanessa Moulton and Emla Fitzsimons
Date published: 23 November 2017
Working papers

Collecting Multiple Data Linkage Consents in a Mixed Mode Survey: Evidence and Lessons Learnt from Next Steps- CLS working paper 2017/13

Linking survey responses with administrative data is a promising practice to increase the range of research questions to be explored, at a limited interview burden, both for respondents and interviewers. This paper describes the protocol for asking consent to data linkage on nine different sources in a large-scale nationally representative survey of young adults in England: the Next Steps Age 25 Survey.

Author: Marie Thornby, Lisa Calderwood, Mehul Kotecha, Kelsey Beninger and Alessandra Gaia
Date published: 7 November 2017
Working papers

What role do enjoyment and students’ perception of ability play in social disparities in subject choices at university?- CLS working paper 2017/12

This study used a large, representative sample of university students studying in England to explore the relationship between student attitudes and socio-economic disparities in subject choices.

Author: Natasha Codiroli Mcmaster
Date published: 29 August 2017
Working papers

Incentivising specific combinations of subjects: does it make any difference to university access?- CLS working paper 2017/11

A major part of the 2010-2015 UK government’s education reforms in England was a focus on the curriculum that pupils study from ages 14-16. Most high profile was the introduction of the English Baccalaureate (EBacc) performance measure for schools, incentivising study of “subjects the Russell Group identifies as key for university study” (Gibb, 2011). However, there does not appear to be good quantitative evidence about the importance of studying such a set of subjects, per se. This paper sets out to analyse this question, considering whether otherwise similar young people who study specific sets of subjects (full set for EBacc-eligibility, two or more sciences, foreign languages, applied subjects) to age 16 have different probabilities of entering university, and specifically a high-status university.

Author: Jake Anders, Morag Henderson, Vanessa Moulton and Alice Sullivan
Date published: 28 August 2017
Working papers

A note on subject choice at age 14 and socio-economic inequality in access to university- CLS working paper 2017/10

Over the past twenty years governmental efforts to promote social mobility have included widening access to higher education as a major focus. This is in an attempt to give more individuals the opportunity to benefit from the economic returns to a university degree (Walker and Zhu, 2011). Despite this, there remains a significant level of socioeconomic inequality in access to universities (Anders, 2012a; Boliver, 2013; Chowdry et al., 2013). Much of this inequality is explained by, or emerges through, differences in prior attainment at age 16.

Author: Jake Anders, Morag Henderson, Vanessa Moulton and Alice Sullivan
Date published: 25 August 2017
Working papers

The role of schools in explaining individuals’ subject choices at age 14- CLS working paper 2017/9

The subjects that young people study from age 14 onwards may have important consequences for their future academic and labour market outcomes. These decisions are shaped by the schools in which they find themselves. Schools also face constraints of their own. This paper explores the extent to which individuals’ decisions are affected by the school they attend and to what extent this is affected by the composition of schools in terms of academic attainment, gender and socioeconomic background.

Author: Jake Anders, Morag Henderson, Vanessa Moulton, and Alice Sullivan
Date published: 23 August 2017
Working papers

Continuing education post-16: does what you study at GCSE matter?- CLS working paper 2017/8

This paper considers whether subject choice at 14-16 influences post-16 transitions, taking into account prior academic attainment and school characteristics, and if so, whether this accounts for socio-economic, gender and ethnic differences in access to post-16 education.

Author: Vanessa Moulton, Morag Henderson, Jake Anders and Alice Sullivan
Date published: 22 August 2017
Working papers

The relationship between A-level subject choice and league table score of university attended: the ‘facilitating’, the ‘less suitable’ and the counter-intuitive- CLS working paper 2017/7

Using information on all English students who entered UK universities with three A-levels in 2010, 2011 and 2012 – nearly 475,000 in total – this working paper aimed to find out how those doing certain A-levels fared in the competition for a university place.

Author: Catherine Dilnot
Date published: 13 August 2017
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
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