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Child Development Research
Volume 2011, Article ID 502314, 10 pages
Research Article

Year 7 Pupils' Views of the Future

1School of Sociology and Social Policy, University of Liverpool, Liverpool L69 3BX, UK
2AimHigher, University of Westminster, London WIB 2UW, UK
3School of Education, University of Durham, Durham DHI 3HP, UK

Received 17 August 2010; Revised 24 January 2011; Accepted 8 February 2011

Academic Editor: Masha Gartstein

Copyright © 2011 Ken Roberts et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


This paper reports findings from a study among 610 Year 7 (typically age 12) pupils at 27 nonselective secondary schools in three English regions: Cornwall and Devon, London, and Greater Manchester. Data was gathered in workshops, each with 15–25 pupils, who completed questionnaires and performed individual tasks, all related to their vocational and educational aims, their ideas on what counted as success, and the main influences on their forward thinking, then discussed their answers and results. The discussions were tape recorded. Most pupils expressed robust occupational aims, and most said that they wanted to go to university. Family class did not predict levels of educational or occupational aims, but was related to the importance attached to “the job that I want to do” in the pupils' forward thinking. SAT scores did predict levels of occupational aspiration, ideas on what counted as success, and by whom and what the pupils were most influenced. These findings are interpreted to challenge the view, on which a raft of current policies are based, that social class disparities in educational and labour market outcomes are due to the intergenerational transmission of low aspirations in lower-class families and neighbourhoods. The paper concludes with an alternative model of status transmission processes in which attainments during secondary education are posited as the key intervening variable.