Aspirations not Expectations: Socio-economic disadvantaged girls in the education system by @kellybubbins

Firstly, schools could look at their curriculum and their course content ensuring that it is gender balanced. Secondly, schools need to set pupils consciously, for girls this is increasingly important in STEM subjects. Thirdly, many studies point to the way that girls receive feedback. Schools need to consider this when devising marking policies and quality assure teacher delivery of these. It has been proven that gender differences in self-efficacy can be minimised or eliminated when students derive specific, direct feedback on their capabilities ensuring gradual progress.

Schools need to be aware of and remove barriers to learning. Extra-curricular provision needs to be carefully considered. Are there events which promote female solidarity? Are there events which foster confidence and growth mindset? Are there events at which girls can comfortably interact with industry?

The attendance and punctuality levels of this demographic could be low or erratic due to additional responsibilities at home etc. These girls may need a quiet room to study after school especially if they live in cramped conditions or have responsibility for younger siblings. Room could be made to accommodate younger siblings in after school revision or provision – where they too can take part in educational activities. Schools also need to think about cultural clashes – is there an expectation to settle down and have children at a young age in the community, for example.

Know your Teenager:

Adolescence is seen as a key stage in the development of aspirations as teenagers become more focused on their desires for the future and show increased selectivity in goal-directed behaviour. Studies have proven that the careers teenagers aspire to at 16 frequently becomes a reality on the wages scale.

It is clear, that somewhat similar to a newborn, increased support is needed at this critical decision making point of one’s life. Support can include parents setting regular bed times and meal times, the encouragement of maintaining a healthy lifestlye – physically, mentally and sexually as well as study support provided by schools.

As with all teenagers, girls are influenced by their peers- schools need to work hard at fostering positive relationships amongst girls – within schools- with a focus on learning and achievement.


There is no doubt that concentrating on this demographic is important – long-standing structural inequalities in the UK labour market remain evident despite nearly 40 years of government sponsored initiatives. More recent studies on gender issues in Higher Education have focussed on accessing Higher Education and the continued under-representation of ‘disadvantaged’ women in certain disciplines. It is therefore, important for educators to understand the factors affecting this group in order to help direct and motivate them further up the career ladder. Longitudinal studies have shown that determination not to repeat their childhood circumstances in adulthood drives a number of socially disadvantaged girls to success. However, without parental support and educational encouragement in truly aspirational goals, it is undoubtedly very much harder for women from disadvantaged backgrounds to achieve.

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The Editorial Account of UKEdChat, managed by editor-in-chief Colin Hill, with support from Martin Burrett from the UKEd Magazine. Pedagogy, Resources, Community.

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