Measuring determinants of post-compulsory participation in science: A comparative study using national data

  • Homer M
  • Ryder J
  • Banner I
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Abstract

Increasing post-compulsory participation in science and science-related subjects is seen as a key education policy priority in England and more widely. This paper uses descriptive analysis of national data to investigate the effects of science attainment at 16, gender, socio-economic status, and school science pathway on progression into post-16 traditional and vocational science courses in state-funded schools in England. Comparisons are also made with progression into non-science subjects (history, mathematics and psychology). Multi-level statistical modelling is employed to provide independent estimates for all these effects, whilst also taking into account mathematics attainment at 16, and whether or not the 14-16 school also teaches to 18. The key findings of the descriptive analysis are that progression rates vary widely across post-16 sciences in terms of both gender and socio-economic status, but that other subjects too vary in these regards. Once prior attainment is accounted for, the gender differences across science and some other subjects largely remain but those due to socio-economic status are to some extent ameliorated. In terms of school science pathways, those students doing '"more" science at 14-16 are found to be more likely to progress to traditional science post-16. The statistical modelling further quantifies the relative importance of each of these effects in determining progression and shows how, in comparison to other courses, there is more variation at the school level in progression to vocational sciences. Further, the determinants of participation in these vocational sciences courses are of a different character to the non-vocational sciences.

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Authors

  • Matt Homer

  • Jim Ryder

  • Indira Banner

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