Children with pushy parents are likely to do better at school, research has suggested.
The effort a parent puts into their child's education has a bigger impact on the youngster's achievement than the effort the pupil or the school makes, according to a study by Leicester and Leeds universities.
Using the National Child Development Study, which follows a group of individuals born in a particular week in 1958 throughout their lives, the researchers looked at the effort pupils, parents and schools made towards a child's schooling. It looked at pupils' attitudes, such as whether, at age 16, they thought school was a waste of time and teachers' views about pupils' laziness.
The study also measured how interested parents were in their child's education, such as whether they read to the child or attended parents' meetings, as well as looking at parental involvement initiated by schools, what disciplinary methods schools use, and whether 16-year-olds were offered careers advice.
The findings show that parents encourage their children to make more of an effort, and in turn parents make more effort when their child tries harder. The background of a family affects the school's effort, the study found.
"If the parents have a better socio-economic background then the school exerts more effort," report author Professor Gianni De Fraja, said. But the effort that the parents themselves make has little effect on a school's behaviour, he added.
Prof De Fraja, head of economics at Leicester University, said: "Parents from a more advantaged environment exert more effort, and this influences positively the educational attainment of their children. By the same token, the parents' background also increases the school's effort, which increases the school achievement. 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."
The findings also show that the effort a child puts in is not influenced by their social background - for example pupils from better-off homes do not necessarily try harder than those from poorer homes. The report notes that parents face a "trade-off" the more children they have. It says: "There is a trade-off between quantity and quality of children: a child's number of siblings influences negatively the effort exerted by that child's parents toward that child's education."
Professor De Fraja concluded: "In general, what we are saying is that a child whose parents put more effort into his or her education does better at school. Therefore policies that aim at improving parental effort might be effective in strengthening educational attainment. Influencing parental effort is certainly something that is much easier than modifying their social background."
The study, which was published in the latest issue of Review of Economics and Statistics, said that this could be done by offering parents financial rewards for helping their child with homework or attending parenting classes.