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Pathways from origins to destinations: Stability and change in the roles of cognition, private schools and educational attainment.

Sullivan, A; Parsons, S; Ploubidis, G; Green, F; Wiggins, RD; (2020) Pathways from origins to destinations: Stability and change in the roles of cognition, private schools and educational attainment. British Journal of Sociology , 71 (5) pp. 921-938. 10.1111/1468-4446.12776. Green open access

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Abstract

While much attention has been devoted to measuring levels of social mobility over time, less attention has been given to the possibility of changing pathways to social mobility. This paper examines pathways from social origins to socio-economic destinations in midlife for two British cohorts, born in 1958 and 1970 respectively, using Structural Equation Modelling (SEM). We address the roles of cognitive attainment, private schooling and educational attainment in mediating the link between social origins and destinations. Have these mechanisms become more or less important over time, in a context of structural change in the state schooling system and educational expansion? We find that private schools displayed greater academic selectivity and an increased link to high levels of educational attainment for the younger cohort. Essentially, private schools adapted to changing circumstances, becoming more academically selective and less socially selective, and more focused on educational credentials. Childhood social origins were less strongly linked to childhood cognitive scores in the younger cohort, but cognitive scores were also more weakly linked to educational attainment for this cohort. We also find a decreased association between social origins and educational attainment for the younger cohort. While the finding that educational inequalities weakened over this time period is positive, the lack of a corresponding reduction in the overall link between social origins and destinations suggests that reducing educational inequalities was not sufficient to increase social mobility when accompanied by countervailing changes in the role of private schools.

Type: Article
Title: Pathways from origins to destinations: Stability and change in the roles of cognition, private schools and educational attainment.
Location: England
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1111/1468-4446.12776
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1111/1468-4446.12776
Language: English
Additional information: © 2020 The Authors. The British Journal of Sociology published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd on behalf of London School of Economics and Political Science This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
Keywords: Education, longitudinal, private schools, social class, social mobility
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Education
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Education > UCL Institute of Education
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Education > UCL Institute of Education > IOE - Education, Practice and Society
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Education > UCL Institute of Education > IOE - Social Research Institute
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10117772
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