Pushy parenting really does help children – and even their schools – to do better, according to research published today.
Parents' efforts to boost their children's educational achievement is highly significant, the study suggests. In fact, researchers found it is even more important than the amount of work put in by the pupil – or their teachers.
Professor Gianni De Fraja, head of economics at Leicester University, said: 'If parents exert more effort, then the child also exerts more effort by working harder. Separately and independently of this, the school results improve. What we found surprising is that the parent's effort matters more than the school effort or the child's effort.'
The study from Leicester University and Leeds University Business examined data from the National Child Development Study, which follows 17,000 people born in March 1958 throughout their lives.
They focused on about 10,000 children aged 16 – from both state and private schools – who were asked questions about their effort in lessons, such as whether they thought school was a 'waste of time'.
Their parents had been asked about their interest in education, for example whether they read to their child, knew about their progress and attended meetings with teachers. Teachers were also asked about their perceptions of this level of parental interest.
Researchers compared the findings to the exam results of these youngsters at age 16 and 18 and discovered that parents who showed even a small interest in their child's education improved the probability of the average child getting four GCEs (now GCSEs).
Pushy parents were four times more likely than the school and six times more likely than the child to be able to instigate these improvements.
Children's propensity to try hard at school was not influenced by their social background. However the socio-economic background of parents not only affected their child's educational attainment – it also affected the school's effort.
Teachers were more likely to be more conscientious in response to middle-class parents than less advantaged ones.
Professor De Fraja said: 'Why schools work harder where parents are from a more privileged background we do not know.
It might be because middle-class parents are more vocal in demanding that the school works hard.'
Last month, research claimed that private schools are being turned into 'exam factories' amid pressure from pushy parents to achieve results.
The Headmasters' and Headmistresses' Conference, which represents 250 leading independent schools, found that teachers are being put under 'considerable pressure' by families to deliver top grades.
Are you a pushy parent and proud of it? Or do you think it's up to your child, with help from the school, to achieve good exam results?