Psychosocial contributors to children's academic attainment: a multi-level analysis

Year: 2012

Author: Humphrey, Neil, Wigelsworth, Michael, Barlow, Alexandra, Lendrum, Ann

Type of paper: Abstract refereed


This paper will examine the influence of a variety of psychosocial and other factors on children's academic attainment using a large dataset derived from the baseline (June/July 2012) of a major  ongoing study in England ("PATHS to Success" - funded by the National Institute for Health Research and the Education Endowment Foundation). Of particular interest are the contributions of aspects of school climate and children's social and emotional competence.  The sample of c.2,500 children aged 6-9 are drawn from approximately 28 schools across 6 Local Authorities.  Academic attainment in literacy and numeracy will be measured using InCAS, a standardised, computer-adaptive assessment tool.  This data will be regressed onto:


  • The social skills subset of the Social Skills Improvement System (SSIS - child self-report)
  • The psychological well-being, social support and peers, and school environment subsets of the Kidscreen 27 (KS27 - child self-report)
  • The emotional symptoms, conduct problems, hyperactivity/inattention, peer problems and pro-social behaviour subsets of the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ - teacher-rated)
  • Age, gender, free-school meal eligibility, ethnicity, first language, attendance, and special educational needs (SEN) status the individual level, and:


  • The student-student relationships, staff-student relationships, and learning environment subsets of the School as a Caring Community Profile (SCCP - teacher-rated)
  • Size, urbanicity, ethnic and linguistic diversity, attainment, attendance, and proportion of children with SEN the school level.  Data will be analysed using 'intercept as outcomes' hierarchical linear modelling in MLWin.  This will allow determination of the amount of variation in children's attainment that exists between ("school effects") and within ("student effects") schools, in addtion to the identification of which factors noted above explain significant variation in this attainment.

The findings will have important theoretical, policy-related and practical implications - particularly in relation to social and emotional learning and mental health promotion in schools.