Education policy documents frequently refer to the importance of ensuring that children enjoy their education, and policies have been developed which aim to promote a child's enjoyment of education and learning. This paper seeks to investigate the extent to which primary school children enjoy their education, and the influence which educational enjoyment has on educational attainment. In recent years, enjoyment has become a key principle of education policy and a central concern in the development of the primary school curriculum. Enjoyment of education is the key focus of the 'Excellence and Enjoyment' strategy in English Primary schools, the 'Foundation Phase' in Wales, and the 'Curriculum for Excellence' in Scotland. These policies highlight the importance of educational enjoyment as a significant outcome in its own right, but are also based on the premise that if a child enjoys their education this will lead to improved educational attainment. Evidence linking enjoyment and attainment is currently limited and inconclusive. Enjoyment policies also lack consideration of the differential propensity of some groups of children to enjoy education, particularly children from less advantaged families.
This paper uses longitudinal data from the UK Millennium Cohort Study (MCS) to present a detailed contemporary analysis of children's enjoyment of education in primary school. Importantly, variation in the levels of enjoyment experienced by different social groups is investigated. Linked administrative education data from the National Pupil Database (NPD) is used to analyse the influence of enjoyment on educational attainment using hybrid models. This research is crucial for evaluating the extent to which policies aimed at improving enjoyment are likely to reduce inequalities in educational attainment.
Dr Roxanne Connelly joined the Department of Sociology and the Warwick Q-Step Centre in November 2015. She holds a BSc in Psychology, an MSc in Applied Social Research, and completed her PhD in Sociology in 2014. Roxanne previously worked as a Research Fellow at the Administrative Data Research Centre at the University of Edinburgh, and as a Research Officer at the Centre for Longitudinal Studies, UCL Institute of Education. Roxanne's research examines social inequalities, and is located within the fields of social stratification and the sociology of education. Read more.