Character is the key to poorer children securing top jobs, says study

The Independent is reporting a new study that suggests bright children who lack “grit” and “resilience” are more likely to end up with worse jobs and lower salaries than their classmates with good social and emotional skills…

The research, which called for schools to put more focus on improving personal traits, also found that “character” boosted poorer children’s chances of breaking free of deprivation and going on to get a “top job”.

Children of professional parents are more likely to end up in higher-earning jobs and  researchers calculated that 10 per cent of this advantage was due to better character skills.

It was extremely “worrying”, said the report, that poorer children showed worse behaviour, self-control and emotional health by the age of three than those from wealthier homes. It called for early intervention to boost children’s social skills before they start school.

Comprising three different studies by the Institute of Education, National University of Ireland Galway and research consultants – the study was jointly commissioned by the Early Intervention Foundation, the Cabinet Office and the Social Mobility and Child Poverty Commission.

They called for all those working with children to put more emphasis on character building and warned that schools risk putting too much emphasis on literacy and numeracy and fail to equip pupils with the life skills needed to be happy and healthy. Self-control was the most important skill children should be taught, followed by self-esteem and the belief that their actions make a difference…

More at: Character is the key to poorer children securing top jobs, says study


Get access to all three parts of the report here from the Early Intervention Foundation: Social and Emotional Learning – Skills For Life and Work


Interesting observations that are probably no great surprise but what do you make of the suggestions that intervention is needed to boost social skills in disadvantaged children before they start school?


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Categories: Employment and Pre-school.


  1. SarahBlackIsle

    SchoolsImprove u build character by rising 2 a challenge & sustaining effort to achieve yr best – be it sport, music, volunteering…

  2. SarahBlackIsle

    SchoolsImprove …not sure how it can be ‘taught’ in an abstract way. Also, behaviour issues with v.young must surely be related to diet?

  3. Janet2

    Wasn’t that what Sure Start centres were set up to do – give preschoolers, particularly disadvantaged ones, the opportunity to develop social skills?

  4. Janet2

    Why the emphasis in the report on ‘bright’ children?  Don’t the less bright also merit help?

    Haven’t read the whole report – but does it mention anything about how those already in ‘top jobs’ favour their own kind, usually those who’ve been to the same independent schools?

  5. TW

    Right.  And not winning the lottery is because they just don’t want it enough.  They only have themselves to blame!

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