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Disengagement 14-16: Context and Evidence


  • Hilary Steedman
  • Sheila Stoney


This paper presents an overview of our current state of knowledge regarding poor motivation of 14-16 year oldschool pupils in the UK. A number of experts in the field from a variety of disciplines presented papers on thistopic to a series of seminars held at the London School of Economics between 2002 and 2003. These papers,summarised here, present evidence from a historical, comparative, and social science perspectives and report theresults of evaluation of government intervention programmes to improve motivation. International comparisons(PISA) show UK disengagement below the OECD average but the UK has the strongest link between socioeconomicdisadvantage and disengagement. We identify a very small 'out of touch' group who have practicallylost touch with school and a larger group - around one fifth of the cohort - who could be characterised as'disaffected but in touch'. Finally, we identify a further group - perhaps 15 per cent of the cohort who gainbetween 1 and 4 GCSE passes at Grades A*-C but who have not reached full potential as a result of loss ofinterest in learning. The 'out of touch' group often requires intensive one-on-one mentoring outside the schoolcontext. Evaluation of government intervention programmes has not so far shown an obvious way forward forthe 'disaffected but in touch' group, targeted principally by workplace learning measures. For the '1-4 Grade C'group, there may be something of a magic bullet - namely better vocational options.

Suggested Citation

  • Hilary Steedman & Sheila Stoney, 2004. "Disengagement 14-16: Context and Evidence," CEP Discussion Papers dp0654, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
  • Handle: RePEc:cep:cepdps:dp0654

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Steedman, Hilary & McIntosh, Steven, 2001. "Measuring Low Skills in Europe: How Useful Is the ISCED Framework?," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 53(3), pages 564-581, July.
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    disengagement; motivation; under-achievement;

    JEL classification:

    • I21 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Analysis of Education

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