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Social Class, Gender and Ethnic Differences in Subjects Taken at Age 14

Henderson, M; Sullivan, A; Anders, J; Moulton, V; (2018) Social Class, Gender and Ethnic Differences in Subjects Taken at Age 14. Curriculum Journal , 29 (3) pp. 298-318. 10.1080/09585176.2017.1406810. Green open access

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Abstract

In this paper we identify patterns of subject and qualification choices made at age 14. Much of the previous research on ‘subject choice’ has focussed on the later stages of educational trajectories, particularly Higher Education. However, the choices made at early branching points can limit pupils’ subsequent options, potentially contributing to educational inequalities. This paper identifies the patterns of General Certificate of Secondary Education (GCSE) subjects chosen by a cohort of young people born in 1989/1990. We make use of the Next Steps data (formerly the Longitudinal Study of Young People in England (LSYPE)) which is linked to the National Pupil Database. We develop an approach to measuring the academic selectivity of subjects and qualifications. We examine the roles of social class, parental education, income, gender and ethnicity in determining participation in these curriculum groupings. Using measures of prior attainment from age thirteen, we address the question of whether curriculum differentials simply reflect differences in prior attainment or whether they actually operate above and beyond existing inequalities. We find clear socio-economic, gender, ethnic and school-level differences in subjects studied which cannot be accounted for by prior attainment.

Type: Article
Title: Social Class, Gender and Ethnic Differences in Subjects Taken at Age 14
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1080/09585176.2017.1406810
Publisher version: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/09585176.2017.1406810
Language: English
Additional information: Copyright © 2017 The Author(s). Published by Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
Keywords: Subject choice; educational inequalities; gender difference; ethnic variation; GCSEs; STEM
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Education
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Education > UCL Institute of Education
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Education > UCL Institute of Education > IOE - Learning and Leadership
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Education > UCL Institute of Education > IOE - Learning and Leadership > Centre for Education Policy and Equalising Opportunities
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Education > UCL Institute of Education > IOE - Social Research Institute
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10037780
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