a DFE Research Report (DFE-RR234) by Matt Barnes, Victoria Brown, Samantha Parsons, Andy Ross, and Ingrid Schoon (Centre for Analysis of Youth Transitions) and Anna Vignoles (Institute of Education and National Centre for Social Research) published by the DFE as DFE-RR234 in September 2012
This project investigated the extent of parental worklessness in families with young and teenage children, and determined how parental worklessness impacts on children’s cognitive ability, education attainment, behaviours, attitude to school, academic aspirations and experience of the transition from school to work.
We found that parental worklessness was significantly associated with:
- poorer academic attainment and behavioural adjustment of young children (at age 7)
- poorer academic attainment (GCSE point scores) of young people (at Key Stage 4 (KS4))
- with being not in education, employment and training (NEET) and with being NEET for longer (months spent in NEET) in late adolescence.
Parental worklessness had no independent effect on a number of other outcomes, such as children’s well-being (not being happy at school, being bullied and bullying other children), feelings of lack of control, becoming a teen parent, and risky behaviour.
This evidence provides limited support for a policy agenda targeted only at getting parents back into work. It was generally not parental worklessness per se that caused poorer outcomes in childhood and adolescence but rather the complex needs and numerous socio-economic risks faced by workless families.
Our report cannot determine whether we should tackle the underlying sources of these risks (e.g. family poverty, poor parental education etc.) or deal directly with the consequences of these risks (e.g. poor achievement of young people at KS4; experience of NEET). What our research does clearly show is that policy needs to not only target getting parents back into work but also to address the other risks that these children and their families face
Full text (PDF 52pp)