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Key predictors of educational attainment in Northern Ireland

Research Overview

For young people and their families, doing well at school can contribute to greater wellbeing and open up opportunities over the course of a lifetime. However, gaps in educational achievement can contribute to overall societal inequality. Few studies in Northern Ireland have had been of sufficient size to quantify the various factors that influence a young people’s level of attainment and social mobility.

This project explores which factors are most important for educational attainment. These factors include characteristics of individual pupils, such as their gender or age relative to their classmates, their family context and their family’s history in education and the wider context of the school they attend and the area where they live and attend school.


Benefit

Planning of services can be improved through knowledge of the factors which cause different individuals to drop out of school or to under-perform academically. By better understanding these causes, policy makers can better improve and better target messages aimed at encouraging greater engagement with education.


More about the project

For young people and their families, doing well at school can contribute to greater wellbeing and open up opportunities over the course of a lifetime. However, gaps in educational achievement can contribute to overall societal inequality. Few studies in Northern Ireland have had been of sufficient size to quantify the various factors that influence a young people’s level of attainment and social mobility. In this programme of work, we aim to use linked administrative data to build a richer picture of the complex pathways through which different young people come to achieve different levels of academic and educational attainment

This project explores which factors are most important for educational attainment. These factors include characteristics of individual pupils, such as their gender or age relative to their classmates, their family context and their family’s history in education and the wider context of the school they attend and the area where they live and attend school.

This is the first research study to link data from the School Census and School Leavers’ Survey to Northern Ireland Census records. The study cohort comprises all persons aged 14-16, or in year 10, 11 and 12 of school in 2011 (N = 60,000). The School Leavers’ Survey allows for analysis of key outcomes, including GCE grades, school non-attendance and leaving school without qualifications. Planning of services can be improved through knowledge of the factors which cause different individuals to drop out of school or to under-perform academically. By better understanding these causes, policy makers can better improve and better target messages aimed at encouraging greater engagement with education.


Government departments

Northern Ireland Census records


Date approved 

February 2016


Research team

John Moriarty (Administrative Data Research Centre Northern Ireland, Queen's University Belfast)

David Wright (Administrative Data Research Centre Northern Ireland, Queen's University Belfast)

Dermot O’Reilly (Administrative Data Research Centre Northern Ireland, Queen's University Belfast)

Allen Thurston (Queen's University Belfast)


Page last updated: 24/10/2017