Spheres of Influence: What shapes young people’s aspirations at age 12/13 and what are the implications for education policy?

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Abstract

Young people’s aspirations remain an enduring focus of education policy interest and concern. Drawing on data from an ongoing five-year study of young people’s science and career aspirations (age 10–14), this paper asks what do young people aspire to at age 12/13, and what influences these aspirations? It outlines the main aspirations and sources of these aspirations as expressed by young people in England in the last year of primary school (survey of 9000+ Y6 pupils, aged 10/11, interviews with 92 children and 76 parents) and the second year of secondary school (survey of 5600+ Y8 pupils, aged 12/13, interviews with 85 pupils). We demonstrate how aspirations are shaped by structural forces (e.g. social class, gender and ethnicity) and how different spheres of influence (home/family, school, hobbies/leisure activities and TV) appear to shape different types of aspirations. The paper concludes by considering the implications for educational policy and careers education.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)58-85
Number of pages28
JournalJOURNAL OF EDUCATION POLICY
Volume29
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 9 May 2013

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