Young people’s educational aspirations: Psychosocial factors and the home environment.


Utilising data from Understanding Society (2010-2013), this study examined the contribution of young people’s psychosocial and background factors and home environment to their educational aspirations in the UK. Young people’s general well-being and self-efficacy emerged as good predictors of their educational aspirations as did some aspects of their home environment. Interestingly, filial dynamics such as emotional closeness to parents and cultural capital (e.g. participating in cultural events, discussing books) were better predictors of 10-15-year-olds’ aspirations than were more school-driven parent-child interactions (e.g. homework, extra-curricular activities). Furthermore, the findings from this study showed no shortage in young people’s educational aspirations although interesting demographic trends emerged with certain groups (i.e. preadolescents, males) being less aspirant than middle adolescents and females. These findings have significant implications for family and educational policy, especially with regard to ‘raising aspirations’ and reducing early school leaving and, also, for reconsidering the role of the home environment as a web of emotionally and intellectually charged relationships between parents and children rather than an extension of the school day. Finally, discussions on young people’s educational aspirations should not be polarised but informed by notions of opportunity (structure) and what young people make of it (agency).