The Achievement Gap: Are Parents or Politicians Responsible?

Dimitra Hartas
BERA Insights Paper, 2012

This paper focuses on parent involvment in their children’s learning. How effective is their support? Do disadvantaged parents stand a chance of narrowing the UK’s notorious achievement gap between their children and the offspring of wealthier families? Using a representative sample of nearly 10,000 seven-year-olds from the Millennium Cohort Study, the researcher examined whether parental support is the key to children’s language and literacy levels at age seven – or whether other factors are of greater importance.  The strongest indicators of language and literacy levels at age seven are family income, mother’s education and reading habits.  No significant link was found between parental support for learning and children’s language and literacy levels at age seven. Three-quarters of parents, from all socioeconomic groups, routinely helped their children with their schoolwork.  The percentage of parents who helped at least several times a week was not significantly affected by children’s abilities in language and literacy.

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