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Title: Post-compulsory educational aspirations and choices in England
Author: Maragkou, Konstantina
ISNI:       0000 0004 8506 2939
Awarding Body: University of Sheffield
Current Institution: University of Sheffield
Date of Award: 2019
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This thesis consists of three relevant yet independent empirical studies investigating different questions regarding the determinants of post-compulsory educational aspirations and choices of an English cohort born between 1989-1990 using very detailed survey and administrative data records. The first study investigates whether the importance of socio-economic background and ability in determining the post-compulsory educational aspirations and choices of young people changed over time by comparing the analytical cohort with an older cohort born in 1970. Educational aspirations and choices are defined as the selection between academic, vocational and no-post compulsory education. The study identifies a decreasing socio-economic effect over time on both aspirations and choices for academic and no post-compulsory education providing evidence that the expansion of academic education has proportionately benefited individuals from all social backgrounds. Further, the study identifies a decreased participation in vocational education which did not arise from falling aspirations but because of rising aspirations and actual participation in post-compulsory academic education. The second study investigates whether the educational aspirations of secondary school students are influenced by their school peers. Peer effects on individuals' intentions to stay in education are found to be significant for boys but not for girls. Conditional on their plans to remain in post-compulsory education, peers' ability and aspirations to follow an academic rather than a vocational education pathway, have a positive and significant effect on individuals' aspirations to follow an academic route. The study also finds evidence that the provision of information, advice and guidance by schools or external agencies can serve to mitigate peer effects. Finally, individuals with higher ability peers are less likely to have changed their educational aspirations between Year 9 and Year 11 of school. The third study uses detailed administrative records for the whole population of the analytical cohort to investigate the impact of students' socio-economic background on their academic match in 16-19 post compulsory education. Academic match would occur when students are matched to post-compulsory qualifications studied by similarly attaining peers. Disadvantaged students are found to be more likely to be exposed to academic undermatch compared to their more advantaged peers. The phenomenon is apparent even between students within the same school. The study also identifies that undermatched students are more likely to be found in disadvantaged schools with lower proportions of high achieving students and higher proportions of ethnic minority and disadvantaged students. In addition, the results indicate that significant masses of undermatched students are more likely to be found in rural districts with higher rates of youth unemployment and higher proportions of poorly educated residents. Finally, the study demonstrates that academic assortative matching has a positive relationship with labour market income returns, at least at early ages. Overall, the findings of this thesis establish that educational aspirations and choices are influenced by background factors in addition to individual ability and that they are, to a large extent, socially graded. The implications drawn from this research should be important for every policy maker, social scientist, teacher and parent interested in social mobility and equality of opportunity.
Supervisor: McIntosh, Steven Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available