Socially Excluded Pupils Become Increasingly Disengaged From School Over Time: Evidence from an English Panel Study
Method Data were drawn from waves 1-3 of the Longitudinal Study of Young People in England (LSYPE), a panel study first administered in 2004. At wave 1 participants were in Year 9 (ages 13 and 14); waves were administered yearly thereafter. Participants at wave 1 (N = 13, 539) were 86% White, 51% male, and 9% had experienced social exclusion in the past 12 months. A longitudinal mixed effects model was constructed using the R statistical package. The final model included time as a random effect, and person level demographic predictors including ethnicity. The independent variable of interest was the young person’s estimate of the frequency of their social exclusion over the past year, and was entered as a time varying level 1 predictor. The outcome variable, school engagement, was assessed using 10 LSYPE items that have been used to measure school engagement in previous research (Foliano et al., 2010). A bootstrapping approach was used to produce empirical confidence intervals.
Results The demographic model shows that school engagement declines over time (b= -0.57; t = -6.54; 95% CI [-1.02, -0.56]). The rate of decline was the same for all students, although Asian and Black students had higher levels of engagement at the beginning of the study. For students who report an increase in the frequency of social exclusion over the previous year, we can expect a downwards shift in engagement scores (b= -0.61; t = -17.8; 95% CI [-0.63,-0.27). A positive interaction between time and social exclusion indicates that the decline in engagement is more rapid for students who experience exclusion more frequently (b= -0.22; t = -5.2; 95% CI [-0.39, -0.19]).
Conclusions and implications English students who experience social exclusion are not only less engaged in school, but their engagement decreases at a sharper rate than that of their peers. Social workers should be aware of the increasingly detrimental effects of ongoing social exclusion on pupils’ engagement in schooling and seek to provide early intervention. This study also indicates a continuing need for British education policy to focus on the social experiences of schooling as determinates of broader educational outcomes.