Regular family meals boost GCSE exam results (UK)

Telegraph (UK) 26 June 2008

Children perform better at school if parents impose traditional values in the home, Government research suggests. They are more likely to get five good GCSEs when parents insist on sharing family meals every night – and set regular evening curfews, figures show. Irrespective of social class, family “togetherness” was seen as one of the biggest bearings on success in the classroom. It comes as the Government targets parents in an attempt to boost school standards. Last week, Ed Balls, the schools secretary, said mothers and fathers contributed to poor behaviour at England’s toughest schools because they refuse to punish their children. He insisted more parents should “play their part”, and outlined plans for a new system of on-line reporting so they can be instantly informed if their children step out of line.

Research published by the Department for Children, Schools and Families yesterday showed 16-year-olds were much more likely to stay on at school if they “get on” with parents. “There is a strong relationship between regularity of having a family evening meal and GCSE attainment,” it said.

Researchers analysed the findings of two major reports tracking the progress of 19,000 schoolchildren. At the age of 14, pupils were asked how often they sat down for an evening meal with their family. According to the report, 50 per cent of those eating with mothers, fathers and siblings six or seven times a week gained eight or more A* to C grades, compared to 31 per cent of teenagers who never ate with families. At the same time, pupils reported whether or not parents set a curfew on a school night. Sixty per cent of those who said they were not allowed out late during the week were awarded eight good GCSEs, against 36 per cent who said parents “sometimes” set curfews.