Poor parents not encouraging high school completion, study says

October 14, 2012

Parents from poorer backgrounds are less likely to encourage their kids to finish high school, according to a new analysis from the University of Melbourne.

About six in 10 children from low socio-economic in Australia currently complete high school, while 90% of students from more affluent homes finish their secondary studies.

Lead researcher Dr Cain Polidano (0409 703 296), from the Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research, said the attitudes of parents played a crucial role.

"Differences in the education of parents are probably the most important factor explaining the gap in school completion rates," he said.

The research found disadvantaged students were not only less likely to plan on completing high school (76% compared to 90% of better-off students), but they were also less likely to believe their parents want them to finish school (58% vs 73%).

"More importantly though, parents on lower incomes are more likely to favour vocational training courses—which have no school completion pre-requisite—over university courses," Dr Polidano said.

"Therefore, those parents may be more willing to let their children quit school.

"It seems many parents aren't aware that more than 95% of schools now offer their own VET courses."

Differences in the quality of schools on offer (including resources, governance, teachers and peers) is estimated to be relatively unimportant in explaining the completion gap.

But the study did find good quality teachers encourage to remain in school, but have little effect on the retention of other students.

"This result underlines the particular importance of teachers in promoting a positive learning culture in low SES schools where may not be the norm among students and their parents," Dr Polidano said

"These findings should help schools and politicians better focus policies aimed at closing the SES completion gap, which is vital to reduce of opportunity."

Explore further: Boys learn better when creative approaches to teaching are used

More information: The research, 'Explaining the SES School Completion Gap' (co-authored by Barbara Hanel and Hielke Buddelmeyer), has been produced as part of the Melbourne Institute's Working Paper Series 2012.

Related Stories

Recommended for you

The hand and foot of Homo naledi

October 6, 2015

The second set of papers related to the remarkable discovery of Homo naledi, a new species of human relative, have been published in scientific journal, Nature Communications, on Tuesday, 6 October 2015.

Who you gonna trust? How power affects our faith in others

October 6, 2015

One of the ongoing themes of the current presidential campaign is that Americans are becoming increasingly distrustful of those who walk the corridors of power – Exhibit A being the Republican presidential primary, in which ...

The dark side of Nobel prizewinning research

October 4, 2015

Think of the Nobel prizes and you think of groundbreaking research bettering mankind, but the awards have also honoured some quite unhumanitarian inventions such as chemical weapons, DDT and lobotomies.

How much for that Nobel prize in the window?

October 3, 2015

No need to make peace in the Middle East, resolve one of science's great mysteries or pen a masterpiece: the easiest way to get yourself a Nobel prize may be to buy one.


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.