Document Abstract

An unequal playing field: extra-curricular activities, soft skills and social mobility

Considers the significance of extra-curricular activities within contemporary debates around social mobility, focusing on secondary aged school children and assessing evidence on the possible impact of extracurricular activities across a range of outcomes as well as gaps in opportunities to participate in different activities. Uses existing evidence on the significance of extra-curricular activities and the importance of soft skills in the labour market and for social mobility; three secondary data-sets - a cohort study tracking 40,000 UK households; the Program for International Student Assessment, the Programme for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies; and focus groups with parents and young people in four localities in England. Explores the significance of extracurricular activities and differences in the extent and nature of participation. Finds significant gaps in opportunity to take part in extracurricular activities. Argues that these gaps are important given the potential benefits, including the development of soft skills. Examines soft skills, including the demand for soft skills in the UK labour market, and the importance of soft skills for intergenerational social mobility. Concludes that opportunity to participate in extra-curricular activities is profoundly structured by socioeconomic status, and sets out a series of recommendations aimed at levelling the playing field and improving equality in opportunities to participate.


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Donnelly, Michael et al
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Social Mobility Commission

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