3rd June 2016

Research for the Sutton Trust has indicated that girls’ interest in higher education may be more pronounced than boys as young as 13 years old.

The study: Believing in Better; How Aspirations and Academic Self Concept Shape Young People’s Outcomes , by Professor Pam Sammons, Dr Katalin Toth & Professor Kathy Sylva Professor Kathy Sylva at Oxford University, showed that Girls reported higher levels of aspiration, defined as thinking it was very important to get a university degree and planning to go to university.

Pupils from ethnic minority backgrounds typically had higher levels of aspirations than white British students.

In addition, higher levels of aspirations were found for: students from families with higher salaries, or students who experienced higher levels of enrichment at home between at age 13/14.

Pupils who lived in a neighbourhood with higher levels of unemployment were five times more likely to consider a university degree as very important.

Other factors included having attended a pre-school that was highly effective in promoting early number concepts; attending a primary school which was more effective in promoting English attainment. Those who rated their secondary schools highly in terms of learning resources were almost six times more likely to believe it is very important to get a university degree.

The research used National Pupil Database data to investigate these students' A-level and AS achievement and identify the factors that predict academic success. The research used descriptive statistics, multilevel regression, multiple and logistic regression as appropriate to predict differences in students’ examination results at A-level.

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