'I do homework in school. At home it's crowded and busy'

1st February 2008 at 00:00
Sometimes, late at night, when his mother, younger sister and three younger brothers have gone to bed, Matt Ludlow will get out his school books in the living room. That is the only time when he has some space to himself.

Usually he does his A-level homework at Moulsham School, in Chelmsford, Essex, where he is a student.

Matt, 18, shares a room with one brother and has no computer or internet access, making it difficult to study his subjects - English literature, chemistry and psychology - at home.

He has a cleaning job at school for two hours every morning before classes and works at a supermarket after school for nearly 10 hours a week.

Others might decide this was all too difficult, but Matt appears resolute. He is applying to several universities to read chemistry and forensic science and wants to get the grades.

"I do a lot of my homework in school, in free periods, so I can use the computer then," he said. "At home it is crowded and busy.

"My grades have been pretty average - I'm just keeping up - but I'm hopeful about university."

The last thing Matt has time for is feeling sorry for himself. "You've got to take life as it comes. You can't lie awake worrying about it."

Ty McKeown, the head of upper school at Moulsham, said parental support had been shown to be a bigger influence on pupil achievement than the school itself.

"Some students have the support of the parents but don't have the facilities at home to allow proper engagement," he said. "Many of our students have to act as carers to younger children and parents, so they too become disadvantaged."

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