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Gifted student’s research shows youngsters follow in parents’ footsteps for GCSE and A-levels

As thousands of students prepare to receive their GCSE results this week, research by Warwick Junior Commissioner Lydia Backhaus reveals that despite peer pressure or current trends, we still follow in our parents’ footsteps when choosing study subjects and career paths. 

Lydia, who has just completed her GCSEs at St Albans High School for Girls, has been researching parental influence in education and career choices as part of the University of Warwick Junior Commission on Education and Skills. 

Lydia’s research, which took 12 months, revealed that 45% of students responding to her research questionnaire took similar GCSE subjects to the O-levels that their parents chose. She also found that 60% of A-levels choices were in either the same or similar subjects.  

53% of the respondents also claimed to want a job that was similar to their parents, showing how children’s aspirations are often matched to their parents careers.   

Lydia’s research is one of ten strands of research that have been undertaken by the Warwick Junior Commission, a project run by the International Gateway for Gifted Youth (IGGY) at the University of Warwick.  

Other research from the Junior Commissioners examined the perception of education and the influence of parents on student’s choice in the British Asian community, the education and life chances of aboriginal children, the role of religion in education, the philosophy of Confucianism in Taiwan and the education influences of ‘Kosians’ in South Korea.  

The Junior Commissioners have met regularly over the last 12 months to discuss their research and share ideas.  They met for the final time last month at the University of Warwick to share their findings.

The Junior Commissioners research findings will be edited into a short film which will be available in September this year on the IGGY website. All ten Junior Commissioners were selected via an international competition.  Hundreds of entries were received from dozens of countries – including essays, films, presentations, podcasts and more.  The winning entrants were selected from a shortlist by a panel of leading human rights lawyers, academics and students from around the world. 

Notes to editors

A group photograph of the Junior Commissioners is available, contact Alison Rowan, Project Manager, The Warwick Commission, University of Warwick, 02476 150423, 07876 218166.