NCDS3 (1974)


At each of the first three follow-ups (1965, 1969 and 1974), information was been obtained from four main sources: the children themselves, the parents, Local Authority Medical Officers, and schools.

After piloting in a number of local authorities, the interview schedules and questionnaires were despatched to local health authorities and to local education authorities, who organised their distribution to medical officers and health visitors who were to carry out the medical examinations and parental interviews, and to schools respectively. They also arranged for the collection of completed schedules and their return to the National Children's Bureau who carried out the survey.

There were two significant departures from this general method for the 16-year follow-up. First, there were the independent schools, with whom we corresponded directly. Second, there was the impact of local government reorganisation which came about during the period when local authorities were dealing with our material. Many authorities were still able to take responsibility for distributing and returning the forms but in other cases this was taken over by the research team. (Davie and others, 1972; Wedge, 1969; Fogelman, 1976, 1983; Fogelman and Wedge, 1981).
A more detailed account of the data collected is given below, but in summary:

  • Parental Interview - the parents (in fact most commonly the mother alone) were interviewed in the home by an officer of the local authority, usually a Local Authority Health Visitor, using a structured interview schedule.
  • Medical Examination - each child received a full medical examination from a Local Authority Medical Officer, who also carried out some special tests and completed a medical schedule, additionally using some information available from medical records to help in compiling a medical history.
  • Schools Questionnaire - at each age, the schools (usually the headteacher and class teacher(s)) completed a questionnaire providing information on the school and on the study child.
  • Subject - each child also completed a questionnaire.

Parental Interview

The following areas have been covered: Father's and mother's occupation, length of parents' education, smoking habits, aspirations and expectations for child's future education and occupation, family relationships, parent-school contacts, sources of income and indices of poverty (including at sixteen only, details of household income), housing circumstances, child's general health and information on accidents, hospital admissions and visits to the doctor, and details of medical history relating to vision, hearing, speech therapy, convulsions, asthma, migraine, enuresis, psychiatric problems, dental care and pubertal development.

Parents also answered questions which combine to give an index of behaviour in the home (Rutter and others, 1970). Individual items of this scale also provide useful information, for example concerning truancy.

Medical Examination

The medical officer obtained information on aspects of medical history, similar to that obtained from parents. He or she recorded the results of test of near and distant vision, hearing, speech, and motor co-ordination and measured the child's height and weight. In the course of a systematic examination, results were recorded of any findings relating to skin conditions, hernias, respiratory tract infections, and any defects in the cardiovascular system, the alimentary tract, the urogenital system, bones and joints, and the neuromuscular system. The medical officers assessed the child's pubertal development.

Schools Questionnaire

The areas covered include: type and size of school, social composition and academic record of the school, provision for sex education and career advice, parent-school contacts, disciplinary methods used, size and nature of child's class, ability ratings, likely examination entries, details of any special provisions for the child, attendance record, prediction of future educational and occupational progress, and ratings of parental interest.
Teachers completed a standardised instrument to provide a description of the child's behaviour in school. At sixteen the school version of the Rutter behaviour scale (Rutter 1967) was used.

Tests of Attainment, etc

Reading Comprehension Test - the same test as used at 11
Mathematics Test - devised at the University of Manchester and originally intended for use in the NFER's study of comprehensive schools.

Study Child's Questionnaire

At age sixteen the questionnaire included questions on: attitudes to school and to methods of punishment in school, future educational and occupational expectations and aspirations, reasons for leaving school and choosing a job, school absences, self-ratings in school subjects, spare-time work, income and pocket money, intentions about marriage and having children, sex education and preparation for parenthood, leisure activities, family relationships, smoking and drinking and handedness.