The Educational and Employment Aspirations of Adolescents from Areas of High Deprivation in London
- 630 Downloads
Adolescents from areas of high deprivation are often assumed to have low aspirations for the future. However, recent research has suggested otherwise and there have been calls for more substantial investigation into the relationship between poverty and aspiration. This article reports levels and variation in aspiration from 1214 adolescents (49.5 % male; 50.5 % female) living in areas of high deprivation across 20 London boroughs. A strength of this study is our large and diverse population of low socio-economic status (SES) adolescents, comprising of white British (22 %), black African (21 %), black Caribbean (9 %), Indian/Pakistani/Bangladeshi/Other Asian (24 %), mixed ethnicity (9 %), and 15 % defining themselves as Other. Our measures indicated a high group level of reported aspiration with notable variations. Females reported higher educational (but not occupational) aspirations than males; white British students reported lower educational and occupational aspirations than other ethnic groups; and black African children reported the highest educational aspirations. Perceived parental support for education had the largest positive association with aspirations. In contrast to previous findings from studies carried out in the United States, aspirations were found to be negatively associated with perceptions of school and school peer environment. These measures explored feelings of safety, happiness and belonging within the school environment and school peer group. We discuss possible explanations for this unexpected finding within our population of adolescents from UK state schools and how it might affect future policy interventions. This study makes an important contribution to the literature on adolescent aspirations because of the unique nature of the data sample and the multiple domains of functioning and aspiration measured.
KeywordsAdolescent Aspirations Educational achievement Low-SES Deprivation UK
This research was supported by a grant from the Wellcome Trust. Acknowledgements and thanks go to Laura Smith and Helena Ribeiro for their work in collecting the data.
AR was the Principal Investigator for the Well London Program and was instrumental in its conception and design; DM designed and led the Well London Adolescent Survey; CF project managed the Well London Adolescent Survey and wrote this article and GP performed the statistical analysis. All authors have read and approved the final manuscript.
Conflicts of interest
The authors report no conflicts of interest.
- Archer, L., & Francis, B. (2007). Understanding minority ethnic achievement: ‘Race’ class, gender and ‘success’. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
- Blanden, J. (2006). “Bucking the trend”: What enables those who are disadvantaged in childhood to succeed later in life? Working paper 31. Department for work and pensions.Google Scholar
- Blascovich, J., & Tomaka, J. (1991). Measures of self-esteem. In J. P. Robinson, P. R. Shaver, & L. S. Wrightsman (Eds.), Measures of personality and social psychological attitudes (Vol. 1). San Diego, CA: Academic Press.Google Scholar
- Burgess, S., & Umaña-Aponte, M. (2011). Raising your sights: The impact of friendship networks on educational aspirations. The Centre for Market and Public Organisation (CMPO).Google Scholar
- Cassen, R., & Kingdom, G. (2007). Tackling low educational achievement. York: Joseph Rowntree Foundation.Google Scholar
- Crozier, G., & Reay, D. (Eds.). (2005). Activating participation: Parents and teachers working towards partnership. Stoke-on-Trent: Trentham Books.Google Scholar
- Currie, C. E., Roberts, C., Morgan, A., Smith, R., Settertobulte, W., Samdal, O., et al. (2004). Young people’s health in context. Copenhagen: WHO Regional Office for Europe.Google Scholar
- Dewitt, J., Archer, L., Osborne, J., Dillon, J., Willis, B., & Wong, B. (2010). High aspirations but low progression: The science aspirations-careers paradox amongst minority ethnic students. International Journal of Science and Mathematics Education. National Science Council, Taiwan.Google Scholar
- Eccles, J. S., & Harold, R. D. (1993). Parent-school involvement during the early adolescent years. Teachers College Record, 94, 568–587.Google Scholar
- Epstein, J. L., & Sanders, M. G. (2002). Family, school and community partnerships. In M. H. Bornstein (Ed.), Handbook of parenting (Vol. 5, pp. 407–437)., Practical issues in parenting Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.Google Scholar
- Geay, C., McNally, S., & Telhaj, S. (2012). Non-native speakers of English in the classroom: What are the effects on pupil performance? Centre for the Economics of Education (CEE) DP 137.Google Scholar
- Gorard, S. (2012). The impact of attitudes and aspirations on educational attainment and participation. York: The Joseph Rowntree Foundation.Google Scholar
- Hill, N. E., Castellino, D. R., Lansford, J. E., Nowlin, P., Dodge, K. A., Bates, J. E., & Pettit, G. S. (2011). Parent academic involvement as related to school behavior, achievement, and aspirations: Demographic variations across adolescence. Child Development, 75(5), 1491–1509.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Madarasova Geckova, A., Tavel, P., van Dijk, J. P., Abel, T., & Reijneveld, S. A. (2010). Factors associated with educational aspirations among adolescents: Cues to counteract socioeconomic differences? BMC public health, 10, 154. doi: 10.1186/1471-2458-10-154.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
- McLeod, J. (1995). Ain’t No Makin’ It: Aspirations and attainment in a low-income neighborhood. Boulder, CO: Westview Press.Google Scholar
- Milburn, A. C. (2009). Unleashing aspiration: the final report of the panel on fair access to the professions. London: Cabinet Office.Google Scholar
- Milburn, A. C. (2012). Fair access to professional careers: A progress report by the independent reviewer on social mobility and child poverty. London: Cabinet Office.Google Scholar
- National Pupil Database. (2009). https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/national-pupil-database.
- Phillips, G., Renton, A., Moore, D. G., Bottomley, C., Schmidt, E., Lais, S., et al. (2012). The Well London program—A cluster randomized trial of community engagement for improving health behaviors and mental wellbeing: baseline survey results. Trials, 13(1), 105.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
- Rothon, C., Arephin, M., Klineberg, E., Cattell, V., & Stansfeld, S. (2011a). Structural and socio-psychological influences on adolescents’ educational aspirations and subsequent academic achievement. Social psychology of education: an international journal, 14(2), 209–231. doi: 10.1007/s11218-010-9140-0.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Rothon, C., Head, J., Clark, C., Klineberg, E., Cattell, V., & Stansfeld, S. (2009). The impact of psychological distress on the educational achievement of adolescents at the end of compulsory education. Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology, 44, 421–427.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
- Rothon, C., Head, J., Klineburg, E., & Stansfeld, S. (2011b). Can social support protect bullied adolescents from adverse outcomes? A prospective study on the effects of bullying on the educational achievement and mental health of adolescents at secondary schools in East London. Journal of Adolescence, 34(3), 579–588.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
- Roberts, K. (1968). The Entry into Employment: An Approach Towards a General Theory. Sociological Review, 16, 165–84Google Scholar
- Rowntree Foundation. (2012). The Independent Reviewer on social mobility and child poverty. London: Cabinet OfficeGoogle Scholar
- Schneider, B., & Stevenson, D. (1999). The ambitious generation: America’s teenagers, motivated but directionless. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.Google Scholar
- Schnieder, B. (1994). Thinking about an occupation: A new developmental and contextual perspective. Research in sociology of education and socialisation, 10, 239–259.Google Scholar
- Stansfeld, S., Haines, M., Booy, R., Taylor, S., Viner, R., Head, J., et al. (2003). Health of young people in East London: The RELACHS study 2001. London: The Stationary Office.Google Scholar
- StataCorp. (2009). Stata Statistical Software: Release 11. College Station, TX: StataCorp LP.Google Scholar
- Thornton, A., Pickering, E., Peters, M., Leatherwood, C., Hollingworth, S., & Mansaray, A. (2014). School and college-level strategies to raise aspirations of high-achieving disadvantaged pupils to pursue higher education investigation. London: Department for Education.Google Scholar
- Trusty, J. (1999). Effects of eighth-grade parental involvement on late adolescents’ educational expectations. Journal of Research and Development in Education, 32, 224–233.Google Scholar