The study is amongst the first of its kind to utilise developmental cascade modelling in order to examine the inter-relations between emotional self-efficacy, conduct problems, and attainment in a large, nationally representative sample of English adolescents (n = 2414, aged 11 years). Using a 3-wave, longitudinal, cross lagged-design, we tested three cascading hypotheses: adjustment erosion, adjustment fortification, and academic incompetence. A fourth hypothesis considered the role of shared risk. Results supported small effects consistent with the cascade hypotheses, and a small but significant effect was found for shared risk. Strengths and limits of the study are considered alongside a discussion of the implications for these findings.