Poorer children's educational attainment: how important are attitudes & behaviour?

March 2010 This report considers some of the ways that affluence and disadvantage influence...

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Jenny Bimrose
12 May 2010

March 2010

This report considers some of the ways that affluence and disadvantage influence children’s educational attainment. It focuses on a broad set of factors, varying across childhood, classified under the broad umbrella term ‘aspirations, attitudes and behaviours’. The implications for policy are also explored. Children growing up in poorer families emerge from school with substantially lower levels of educational attainment. This is a major contributing factor to patterns of social mobility and poverty. This
study – based on the analysis of several major large scale longitudinal data sets – suggests some potentially important influences, including:

  • Early years: the richness of the early home learning environment.
  • Primary school: maternal aspirations for higher education, how far
    parents and children believe their own actions can affect their lives,
    and children’s behavioural problems.
  • Secondary school: teenagers’ and parents’ expectations for
    higher education, access to material resources, and engagement
    in anti-social behaviour.
  • Across childhood: parents’ own cognitive abilities.

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Jenny Bimrose
8:57am 13 May 2010


It seems that the findings from this research give a strong indication for robust, impartial careers support both at primary and secondary level, to raise aspirations for higher education?

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