Children from the wealthiest backgrounds are three times more likely to take music classes out of school hours than those from the poorest families, a new report has found.
The study from the Social Mobility Commission revealed “huge disparities” in participation rates in extra-curricular activities, including drama, dance and music, depending on social background.
Young people aged 10 to 15 from wealthier families were much more likely to take part in every type of activity, but especially music and sport, according to the research.
Other key findings included that about 4% of British Pakistani youth take music classes, compared to 28% of British Indian and 20% of White British youth.
The report also revealed that fewer young people in the North East of England take music classes than anywhere else, with just 9% participating, compared to 22% in the South East.
Barriers for children from lower socio-economic backgrounds include the cost of some classes, a lack of provision of extra-curricular activities by some schools and local authorities, and a “lack of confidence or fear they will not fit in”.
The researchers, from the University of Bath, collected data from more than 100 young people and parents across England and analysed a range of existing data sources.
In the report, the commission sets out four recommendations for the government, voluntary groups and schools to address the issue:
• Introduce a national extra-curricular bursary scheme for disadvantaged families;
• Provide funding to develop voluntary sector initiatives that allow access to activities;
• Increase the capacity of schools to provide extra-curricular activities;
• Improve data collection and conduct further research into how extra curricular activities help the development of skills.
Chair of the Social Mobility Commission Martina Milburn said: “It is shocking that so many people 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 people 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 that are invaluable to employers. It is high time to level the playing field.”