This report explores recent evidence about young people’s views and the importance they attach to going on to university, their beliefs about their own academic ability and their experiences of school to see how far these influences shape differences in A-level outcomes at age 18.
Written by Pam Sammons, Katalin Toth, and Kathy Sylva, this report is the third in a series drawing on the Effective Pre-school, Primary and Secondary Education (EPPSE) cohort. It explores students’ aspirations in relation to their views on the importance of getting a degree, their own university plans and their beliefs about their academic performance and abilities, described in this report as their ‘academic self-concept’.
More specifically, the research questions addressed are:
- What are the individual, family, neighbourhood and school predictors of general academic self-concept in Year 11, at age 16?
- What are the individual, family, neighbourhood and school predictors of aspirations in Year 11?
- What is the relationship between academic self-concepts, aspirations and A-level entry?
- Support to encourage reading for pleasure, educational trips and out-of-school studying opportunities should be provided to promote attainment for disadvantaged students at all ages, and especially those who were found to be high attaining at age 11. Enrichment vouchers should be funded through the pupil premium for both primary and secondary pupils.
- Disadvantaged students should have more opportunities to go to the best schools – those rated outstanding – by Ofsted with fairer admissions policies linked to free school transport.
- Disadvantaged children should be given the opportunity to attend good pre-school settings with qualified staff.
- Disadvantaged students should have additional encouragement and support to enable them to engage in self-directed study, do sufficient homework and read more books, the activities that provide extra academic dividends and are linked to aspirations and self-belief. Schools should provide such opportunities where they are unlikely to be available at home