EDUCATIONINFOGRAPHIC02(7)Next Steps has helped shed light on the factors that influence young people’s performance at school.

More than half of you who stayed on in education past the age of 16 were still in education when you were 19 years old. However, a quarter of you were not in education, employment or training (NEET) at least once during this period, and 3 per cent of you had been NEET three or more times.

Findings have shown that poverty and disadvantage can affect educational achievement. Pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds did less well in school than their more advantaged peers, and were also more likely not to be in education, employment or training by age 17.

However, Next Steps has also shown that this is partly due to the fact that disadvantaged young people are less likely to believe in their own ability and have lower aspirations for their futures.

Research based on Next Steps has found that:

  • The vast majority of you liked school and thought that your school work was interesting and generally worth doing.
  • Attainment gaps between young people from rich and poor backgrounds emerged early in life and were very large by the time you took your GCSEs. Only one in five teenagers from the most deprived families gained five A*-C GCSEs, including English and Maths, compared with three quarters of young people from the most advantaged homes.
  • The lower educational attainment of young people from disadvantaged backgrounds can partly be explained by their parents’ education levels, their school and neighbourhood peer groups, and aspirations.
  • Even though disadvantaged pupils struggled at school, more young people from less affluent backgrounds reached the expected levels of attainment in your year than in the 1960s.
  • Your aspirations, behaviours and attitudes to education affected how well you did at school. You were more likely to achieve higher GCSE results if you found school worthwhile, believed in your own ability, weren’t bullied, and avoided risky behaviour such as smoking, cannabis use and truancy.
  • The month you were born can also affect attainment and wellbeing. For example, young people born in August showed lower social and emotional development and were two and a half times more likely to report being unhappy at school than September-born pupils.
  • Young people from disadvantaged backgrounds were five times less likely to go to university than their more advantaged peers – even if they had shown similar ability early in their education.