‘Aim higher’ is an effective message from teachers, study finds

Students encouraged by their teachers to stay on in education are more likely to do A-levels and apply to university, according to findings from Next Steps.

What we asked you

Researchers from the University of Cambridge looked at responses from 4,300 of you. We asked you whether your teachers had told you to stay on in full-time education, when you were in your final year of compulsory schooling. We have also asked you about whether you were taking A-levels, and your plans for applying to university.

What they found

The study found that support and optimism from teachers had a big influence in prompting students from less advantaged backgrounds to continue in education.

Across all students, regardless of background, enrolment on A-level courses was higher for those who had been encouraged, compared with young people who had not been encouraged.

The impact of encouragement varied according to students’ background – with the greatest effect seen on students whose parents had no qualifications. Encouragement had less effect on students whose parents themselves had A-levels or degrees.

Encouragement offered in the run up to GCSEs seemed to have a lasting effect. Rates of entry to higher education were higher for students who had been encouraged, regardless of background and over and above the effect of encouragement on staying on for A-level.