Secondary teachers are likely to find rates of educational attainment are higher among pupils who have developed confidence in their abilities over time, a new study has shown.
Richard Murphy and Felix Weinhardt from the London School of Economics' Centre for Economic Performance surveyed 15,000 young people on how good they thought they were at English, maths and science.
They then crosschecked their answers against their exam results at key stages two and three, taking into account issues such as parental involvement in their education.
The researchers found non-cognitive skills like confidence and resilience had significant impacts on achievement, with those pupils who did well at primary school relative to their classmates developing the faith in their own abilities to fare better at secondary school.
Rank within primary school class was shown to be as important for raising attainment as spending a year with a highly effective teacher, and was also five times as influential on boys' performance as for their female counterparts.
Dr Weinhardt commented: "Our findings go against the common assumption that having better peers is always the best for children.
"Our study suggests that there are situations where your child will be better off from not going to the school with high-performing peers, especially for boys."
Mr Murphy and Dr Weinhardt believe their findings could have important implications for how staff in teaching jobs motivate their pupils to perform better.
For example, pupils within a class of high achievers could be encouraged to think about how they rank nationally rather than against their classmates.
By contrast, low-achieving children might benefit from their teachers encouraging them to focus on personal goals as a measure of their advancement.
The role of confidence in educational performance was also recently highlighted by research conducted in the north-east showing pupils who exhibited less anxiety ahead of their GCSEs were more likely to do well in them.
Posted by Theo Foulds