14 SES 11 B, Adolescents' Identities, Attitudes and Parental Influence in Transitions
The presentation will examine young peoples’ perception and attitudes towards their potential progression to higher education (HE). These young people belonged to three Scottish state secondary schools whose catchment areas are mainly rural and deprived. All were in S5/Year 12 or S6/Year 13 and aged 16 or more. It will identify (1) factors which influence pupils’ decision to pursue their education and (2) policy lessons regarding barriers to accessing HE and the implications with respect to ensuring equal opportunities.
The presentation will provide an in-depth analysis of the exploratory research of Lasselle (2017) and partially presented at ECER 2016 (Lasselle, 2016a). It rests on a repeated questionnaire completed by pupils in November 2014 and again in March 2015. Not all of these pupils had planned to enter HE upon leaving school. The three schools are closely related to the local community. In Scottish remote and rural areas, there is a long tradition that the needs of all pupils at the school have to be considered and parents and family members engage actively in school activities.
Firstly, the presentation will show that a significant barrier to progression to HE in our sample was educational. Participants feared that their qualifications might not be sufficient to receive an offer of a place at university, in particular to an elite institution. Female participants were more likely to perceive this barrier if their parents have not been to HE. Secondly, it will highlight that regardless of gender, location could also be perceived an obstacle. Finally, we will stress that pupils’ enthusiasm and motivation for HE strongly depends on the perceived enthusiasm of peers and family. Attitudes depended more on parents’ enthusiasm for female participants and on peers’ enthusiasm for male participants. Moreover, in the case of the elite institution, attitudes significantly depended on the school’s enthusiasm.
Our presentation is motivated by trends characterising Scottish students and Scottish Government HE policies. Indeed, in Scotland, (1) young people from Scottish rural areas are less likely to go to university than those from non-rural areas, (2) the drop-out rate of Scottish students is higher than that of non-Scottish students. The Scottish government has the clear ambition to achieve equality of opportunities in terms of HE access by 2030. For this purpose, it has recently made it clear to all Scottish HE institutions that they must reduce their entry requirements to their courses for young people living in deprived areas.
Our findings will allow us to recommend initiatives promoting access to HE led by rural schools. These initiatives rest on the strong links between the school, the families and the community and aim to improve the communication between schools and universities. Some of them could be extended to more urban settings.
We investigate young people’s perception and attitudes towards their potential progression to university from their responses to a repeated questionnaire. We use standard quantitative methods techniques to analyse in depth the responses of a sample of over 200 pupils, evenly divided by gender. The questionnaire presented a list of statements. Each statement had a list of possible options according to a typical five-level Likert scale. The questionnaire was designed to measure the qualitative change in pupils’ perceptions and attitudes over time and between ‘university’ in general and ‘the University of St Andrews’, a well-known Scotland institution categorised as an elite institution. Our research addresses three questions: (1) what obstacles to their going to university / the University of St Andrews did these S5 and S6 pupils in these three schools perceive? (2) How much were they enthusiastic or motivated to go to university / the University of St Andrews? (3) How did their perception of their parents’, school’s or peers’ enthusiasm affect their decision to go to university / the University of St Andrews? We analyse their perception of financial or education obstacles to their progression to HE in the light of (1) their own attitude towards higher education, e.g. motivation or enthusiasm and (2) their parents, peers or school’s perceived enthusiasm. We discuss our results according to the literature findings, in particular Gibbons et al. (2012), Kintrea et al. (2011), Lasselle (2016b), Lasselle et al. (2015), Riddell (2014) and Spielhofler et al. (2011) and the interviews with some pupils attending these three schools. We argue that the Scottish government should review some of its guidance regarding access to HE for young people living in deprived communities, in particular to be more specific for young people living in remote and rural communities.
Our presentation will highlight the specific needs of prospective students living in deprived rural and remote communities. It will insist that one should take into account the pupil’s context when analysing barriers and attitude towards HE and how influential parents and peers can be towards their potential decision to progress to HE. This result is particularly significant in rural Scotland where there is a long tradition of strong links between the community and the secondary schools. From these findings, we could recommend that (1) guidance teachers have better access to information regarding changes in entry requirements for Scottish HE courses and (2) university admissions and outreach officers examine more closely the impact of gender and qualifications on entry to HE and (3) the latter improve their communication with parents and young people in these communities and create specific initiatives to facilitate progression to HE.
Commission on Widening Access (2015) Interim report, Scottish Government. Online at http: //www.commissiononwideningaccess.co.uk/#!publications/ca60. Gibbons, S. & Vignoles, A. (2012) Geography, choice and participation in higher education in England, Regional Science and Urban Economics, 42, 98-113. Kintrea, K., St Clair, R. & Houston, M. (2011) The Influence of Parents, Places and Poverty on Educational Attitudes and Aspirations. Joseph Rowntree Foundation. Lasselle, L. (2017) Exploring young people's perceptions and attitudes towards their progression to university: A Scottish rural perspective, Australian and International Journal of Rural Education, 27(2), 6-17. Lasselle, L. (2016a) Barriers to higher education – a Scottish rural perspective. Presentation given at the ECER (European Conference on Educational Research) conference – Special call: Rural schools as hubs for socio-educational development of the community, Dublin, Ireland, August 2016. Lasselle, L. (2016b) Barriers to higher education entry – a Scottish rural perspective, Scottish Educational Review, 48(1), 78-88. Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) (2008) OECD Rural Policy Reviews Scotland, UK. Paris: OECD. Riddell, S. (2014) Key Informants’ Views of Higher Education in Scotland, Working Paper 5, Centre for Research in Education Inclusion and Diversity, University of Edinburgh. Skerratt, S., et al. (2014) 2014: Rural Scotland in Focus Report. Edinburgh: Rural Policy Centre, SRUC, Scotland’s Rural College. Spielhofler, T., Golden, S. & Evans, K. (2011) Young People’s Aspirations in Rural Areas. Slough: NFER. Walsh, S., Flannery, D. & Cullinan, J. (2015) Geographic accessibility to higher education on the island of Ireland, Irish Educational Studies, 34 (1), 5-23.
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