Children becoming upwardly mobile

2nd March 2001 at 00:00
A 'junior census' of 50,000 children shows that they like art, hate RE and are getting taller, reports Sarah Cassidy.

ART, sport and maths are children's favourite school subjects, according to the largest-ever survey of British pupils.

The "junior census" by Nottingham Trent University and the Office for National Statistics also found that nearly 60 per cent of teenagers now own a mobile phone. Two-thirds use the Internet at home, and religious education and geography are their least favourite subjects.

One in six primary pupils said they own their own mobile phone and more than half had Internet access at home, the survey of more than 50,000 seven to 16-year-olds revealed.

Children from Northern Ireland were most likely to travel to school by car, Welsh children by bus, while English children were most likely to walk, according to the census by the university's statistical education centre which is run by the Royal Statistical Society.

The project aimed to give a snapshot of children's lives and to provide schools with the data and support needed to improve pupils' statistical skills.

Neville Davies, professor of applied statistics and director of the centre, said: "Our aim was to enhance dataandling skills across the curriculum. Teachers have told us that to do this they need good data, advice about how to use it and support to help children learn from it. This project hopefully will achieve all that."

The Office for National Statistics hopes the project will raise awareness of the national census in April.

The survey also provided interesting historical comparisons with an 1837 study of teenagers' heights. Teenage boys are now nine inches taller than their Victorian counterparts. Boys have grown taller at nearly twice the rate of girls since 1837 when both sexes were roughly 5ft tall at age 15.

Today's average 15-year-old boy is now 5ft 9ins tall while his female classmates average just 5ft 4ins.

Nearly three-quarters of children have a pet, with a cat being the most popular choice and a gerbil the least favourite.

One-third of all pupils have a cat at home, almost as many have a dog, 15 per cent have rabbits but only 3 per cent have a gerbil.

Nearly 2,300 schools registered to take part in the census. The published results are for the first 360 schools to return the data.

All schools can use the census results and get a data sample from www.censusatschool.ntu.ac.uk


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