This work builds on previous Joseph Rowntree Foundation work highlighting the links between children’s and parents’ aspirations, attitudes and behaviours and the educational achievement gap between richer and poorer children.
There is little evidence of unrealistic aspirations among poorer young people and their families. It also found little evidence of fatalism among people faced with depressed local labour markets, nor of beliefs that not working was acceptable. Indeed, it indicated that many poorer young people attached great importance to school and that their parents did what they could to support them.
However, the real diﬃculty for many children was in knowing how to fulﬁl their ambitions. Rather than raising aspirations in order to raise attainment, there is a real need for children and parents to be oﬀered support to learn more about educational and career options, so they can make more informed decisions about their future
The area with the most promise for the immediate future is parental (including adult carers and guardians) involvement in children’s education. However, evidence suggests that impact comes not so much from changing parents’ attitudes, aspirations and behaviours themselves, but rather from giving parents better information and access to appropriate support and advice.