Wealth disparity in extra curricular class participation

The Social Mobility Commission has published a new report about the large disparities in participation of extra curricular activities depending on children's social background.

The report, An Unequal Playing Field, reveals that children from the wealthiest backgrounds are three times more likely to take up music classes out of school hours than children from the poorest backgrounds and that there is currently a 20 per cent participation gap in sport as well.

The report, which looks at activities such as arts, music, dance, sport and youth clubs, says that children aged 10 to 15 from wealthier families are much more likely to take part in every type of activity, especially music and sport.

The statistics shows na correlation between household income rises and increased participation. Those from better-off families are also more likely to engage in a greater number of out of school activities. Some classes are expensive but there are other barriers for the less affluent, such as schools not providing the activities and local councils having ti cut back on their provisions for children and young people.

The commission sets out four key recommendations for the government: introducing a national extra-curricular bursary scheme for disadvantaged families; providing funding to develop and extend voluntary sector initiatives that allow access to activities; increasing the capacity of schools to provide extra-curricular activities and provision of extra information; and improving data collection and carrying out further research into soft skills development.

Dame Martina Milburn, chair of the Social Mobility Commission said: “It is shocking that so many children from poorer backgrounds never get the chance to join a football team, learn to dance or play music. The activity either costs too much, isn’t available or children just feel they won’t fit in. As a result they miss out on important benefits - a sense of belonging, increased confidence and social skills which are invaluable to employers. It is high time to level the playing field.”

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