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ERIC Number: EJ787474
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2008-Mar
Pages: 13
Abstractor: Author
Reference Count: 10
ISSN: ISSN-0013-1881
Moving on from Free School Meals: National Census Data Can Describe the Socio-Economic Background of the Intake of Each School in England
Styles, B.
Educational Research, v50 n1 p41-53 Mar 2008
Background: Data for England from the national census can provide the socio-economic background of individual pupils and therefore the intake of schools. In many respects, this is more useful than the conventional measure of "free school meals", which has historically been used in the UK as a proxy measure for disadvantage. Prior to the advent of the English Pupil-level Annual School Census in 2001, using census data for research concerning schools was problematic as the immediate location of the school is often socio-economically different to areas in which the pupils live. Now and in future, working with the national census is considerably more attractive as data on individual pupils can be matched and information aggregated to school level to provide measures that reflect intake rather than immediate location. Purpose: This paper discusses the details, merits and uses of this approach. It considers whether derived census data for England can replace or augment the traditional proxy measure for disadvantage, eligibility for free school meals. Sources of evidence: Statistical comparisons of derived data from the 2001 England national census and the free school meals measure were used to clarify strengths and weaknesses of the two approaches. A literature review concerning the measurement of socio-economic disadvantage for educational research provided background to the discussion. Educational researchers at the UK's National Foundation for Educational Research (NFER) provided details of what variables from the 2001 national census would be useful to derive. Data descriptions provided with the English Pupil-level Annual School Census and the 2001 England national census formed the basis of the data derivation. Main argument: Eligibility for free school meals has a number of problems when used as a proxy measure for disadvantage. The use of derived national census data to illustrate the socio-economic background of pupils and schools' intake is free of these problems. However, it has its own collection of setbacks that should determine how and when it is used. Conclusions: Derived national census data should be used in conjunction with eligibility for free school meals to enhance our knowledge of the important part background has to play in the education of children in England. (Contains 3 figures and 3 tables.)
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: United Kingdom (England)