Correlating student performance and socio-economic factors



I’ve been doing some work exploring the NOMIS Labour Market statistics website. It’s a fascinating resource which I was using in relation to employment rates for young people in East Lothian. However, as I began to dig into the site I became more and more intrigued by the data and how it can be manipulated.

This got me thinking about the relationship between socio-economic factors and school attainment.

Using an excel spreadsheet I explored the correlation between some of these factors and the % S5 students gaining 3+ highers in a Local Authority.

The spreadsheet can be accessed here: Correlations – SQA and NOMIS

So what did I find out?

I reckon it’s possible to predict the % of students in any authority using only three indicators. % of population in socio-economic groups 1-3; % of population with more than 2 Highers (NVQ level 3); and the % of population in receipt of benefits (strong negative correlation). It gets even more relaible if you also use the % of population who have a NVQ level 4 (HND or degree), and Gross pay. Interestingly employment rates do not have an impact.

There are one or two anomalies – mainly due to high levels of private school enrolment in some authorities – but in the main the predictors are reliable , with the exception of one island authority.

Please give it a go and get back to me with comments.  I’ll be doing further work on this over the break.

Correlation between 3+ highers and
 Socio-ec – 1 -3 0.71 Strong positive
Socio-ec – 4 – 5 -0.25 Moderate negative
 Socio-ec – 6 – 7 -0.63 Strong negative
 Socio-ec – 8 – 9 -0.55 Strong negative
NVQ 4 0.64 Strong positive
NVQ 3 0.83 Strong positive
Employment 0.22 Weak positive
Gross Pay 0.64 Strong positive
Public service -0.05 None
Banking and Finance -0.02 None
Benefits -0.60 Strong negative