Parents have a big influence on ability

Education news
Education news

AN adult’s literacy and numeracy skills are still heavily influenced by their parents’ background and education, research has found.

A new study reveals that youngsters with parents who were educated to degree level are much more likely to score higher in international tests than those whose mothers and fathers left school after doing their GCSEs.

It suggests that this attainment “gap” is bigger in England than in most other countries - particularly for younger people.

Researchers at the Institute of Education’s Research Centre on Learning and Life Chances (LLAKES) analysed data on adults’ basic skills taken from three international surveys.

They concluded that the relationship between adults’ skills and their parents’ education levels is high in England.

The study found that 16 to 24-year-olds with parents who have degrees were likely to score 67 points higher in one international numeracy survey than those who parents were educated to degree level. This gap was bigger than in every other country which took part in the survey, apart from the Slovak Republic.

In literacy the gap between those 16 to 24-year-olds with degree educated and GCSE educated parents was around 58 points, again wider than in every other nation apart from the Slovak Republic.

The study also found that in general, parents’ educatinal background had more impact in England and the United States than in areas such as East Asia or the Nordic countries.

Andy Green, director of LLAKES, said: “These findings matter, because skills have well-known effects on labour market and wider social outcomes. Over the last quarter century the UK as a whole has experienced one of the fastest increases in wage inequality in the developed world.”