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Family Background and University SuccessDifferences in Higher Education Access and Outcomes in England$
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Claire Crawford, Lorraine Dearden, John Micklewright, and Anna Vignoles

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780199689132

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2016

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199689132.001.0001

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What is the Role of Prior Attainment?

What is the Role of Prior Attainment?

(p.71) 5 What is the Role of Prior Attainment?
Family Background and University Success

Claire Crawford

Lorraine Dearden

John Micklewright

Anna Vignoles

Oxford University Press

Chapter 5 addresses the predominant driver of the large socio-economic differences in entry to higher education in England, whether to any university or to high status universities: attainment during secondary schooling, that is, how well teenagers do at school before they get to the point at which they might apply to university. Most of the explanation for the gaps we observe in university entry lie well back in the teenage years, as shown in the evidence produced in this chapter. The importance of the choices made about which subjects to study at secondary school is also assessed. The chapter asks whether England is notably different with respect to the importance of prior attainment, investigating this question with survey data for Australia, Canada, and the USA, as well as for England. The importance of prior attainment does indeed appear to be stronger in England.

Keywords:   University entry, secondary school attainment, subject choice, family background gaps, England

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