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The influence of parents, places and poverty on educational attitudes and aspirations, 05/10/11 [E/NI/S/W]

The Joseph Rowntree Foundation has published a study which challenges the view that low aspirations among
young people and their families in disadvantaged areas explain their educational and work outcomes.

It shows that barriers to achievement vary significantly among deprived areas as different factors combine to shape ambitions, and shows that the difficulty for many young people is in knowing how to fulfil their aspirations.

Among the key points were:

  • Young people had high aspirations; they wanted to go to university and attain professional and managerial jobs in greater numbers than the labour market could fulfil. There was little evidence of fatalism faced with depressed labour markets, or of a belief that not working was acceptable.
  • The period between ages 13 and 15 was critical, and the importance of place was underlined by changes in ambitions over this time.
  • Among young people and their families with high aspirations, knowledge of the pathways through education and employment to realise these ambitions was limited.
  • Policy to increase social mobility needs to go beyond assumptions about certain communities having low aspirations it needs to tackle barriers to fulfilling them. Policies also need tailoring to the specifics of areas. Better information is required to support young people in understanding how schooling, post-compulsory education and work fit together.
For full details see The influence of parents, places and poverty on educational attitudes and aspirations which is available from the Joseph Rowntree Foundation website.

Further Information

The influence of parents, places and poverty on educational attitudes and aspirations