The role of attitudes and behaviours in explaining socio-economic differences in attainment at age 11


  • Paul Gregg
  • Elizabeth Washbrook



Aspirations, educational attainment


This paper explores the correlates of the socio-economic gradient in children’s educational performance through the primary school years. Thus it sits between the companion papers on pre-school cognitive outcomes and attainment in the secondary school years in this Special Issue. The poorest 20% of children score, on average 14 percentile points lower than the middle 20% in Key Stage 2 tests at age 11, and 31 percentile points lower than the richest 20%. Overall around one third of the attainment gaps by socio-economic background at age 11 are found to emerge after age 7. The evolution of attainment gaps over this period is found to be related a range of attitudes to education and behavioural patterns of the study children. Low maternal aspirations for the child’s final educational attainment are strongly linked to the widening socio-economic gap during these years, over and above their influence on the child’s own measured attitudes and behaviours.