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Parental socioeconomic influences on filial educational outcomes in Scotland: patterns of school-level educational performance using administrative data

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    Rights statement: © 2016 The Author(s). Published by Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (http://creativecommons.org/ licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)183-202
JournalContemporary Social Science
Issue number2-3
Early online date16 May 2016
Publication statusPublished - 15 Dec 2016


In Britain there have been manifest changes in the management and organisation of education, but despite these developments there are still persistent inequalities in pupils’ educational outcomes. These inequalities are consequential because school qualifications are known to influence both a pupil’s immediate continuation in education, and their later educational and occupational outcomes.
The Scottish school system is similar to the system in England and Wales but there are a distinctive set of qualifications. From the mid-1980s until 2013 the final years of compulsory schooling led up to Standard Grade qualifications. Standard Grades were similar to the General Certificates of Secondary Education (GCSEs) and are worthy of detailed sociological examination because they were the first major branching point in the Scottish education system.
A specialist dataset using administrative records was constructed for this project. The dataset comprises of young people who undertook Standard Grades in Scottish schools between 2007 and 2011, who were members of the Scottish Longitudinal Study (SLS). We analyse pupil’s subject-area outcomes using a latent variable modelling approach, and explore characteristics associated with the membership of latent educational groups.
The analyses uncovered four main latent educational groups. One group had very positive outcomes and pupils were generally more socially advantaged, another group had very poor outcomes and were generally more socially disadvantaged. There were two ‘middle’ groups, which both had similar moderate overall Standard Grade outcomes, but notably different subject area-level outcomes. We conclude that during school hours these pupils are unlikely to be found drinking Iron Brew WKD in their local parks or at home playing on their Xbox, however they are also unlikely to be filling out university application forms in the next couple of years.

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