Children’s education crucial for social mobility: new ESRC briefing draws on MCS and BCS70 data

20 June 2011

Parents, the family home, and children’s own attitudes and behaviours could all contribute towards reducing educational inequalities, a recent study shows.

Parents, the family home, and children’s own attitudes and behaviours could all contribute towards reducing educational inequalities, a recent study shows. The Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF) study, which uses data from several longitudinal studies including the Millennium Cohort Study and the 1970 British Cohort Study, is the focus of a new briefing from the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC).

The briefing offers a digestible account of the study’s key findings and their implications for policy. The study found:

  • 81 per cent of mothers from the highest income brackets say they hope their nine-year-old will go to university, compared with 37 per cent of mothers from the lower income brackets
  • the gap in educational attainment between children from richer and poorer backgrounds is already large by age five, and continues to widen between ages five and 14
  • as children get older, patterns of under-achievement become harder to reverse, but factors influencing educational attainment include expectations for higher education, access to a computer and the internet, teenagers’ experiences of bullying, antisocial behaviour, and behavioural problems at school
  • only 21 per cent of the poorest fifth of children manage to gain five good GCSEs, compared to 75 per cent of the richest fifth.

The JRF study was conducted by researchers at the Centre for Market and Public Organisation, University of Bristol, and the Institute for Fiscal Studies.

For more information

This and other recent briefings can be found on the ESRC website.

The full report can be found on the JRF website.

The research also appears in the Summer 2011 edition of Kohort, the CLS newsletter.