What has more of an impact on pupil GCSE exam results? Genetics or the school a child attends? And how much does home life come into play?
These were the questions scientists at King's College London tried to answer in a study on the GCSE exam scores of more than 11,000 16-year-olds.
Genetics account for more than half of variations in grades, the study found.
In core subjects such as English, maths and science, genetics were responsible for on average 58% of the differences in scores that pupils achieved.
Science exam results were found to be more influenced by genetics than those in humanities subjects.
The overall effect of a child's environment – including their home and school life – accounted for 36% of difference in all subjects.
Researchers looked at the grades of identical twins and non-identical twins to determine the impact of genetics versus environment. For example, if identical twins achieved different GCSE scores, the cause could not be considered genetic – as they share 100% of their genes – so it must be down to non-shared environmental influences, such as the more successful student having a better teacher.
An ego boost helps boys improve
Differences in how boys and girls learn has been a frequent focus of education studies. The most recent on the topic has found that boys are much more likely than girls to be influenced by where they stand in class rankings.
The results of more than two million pupils in England were looked at by researchers at the London School of Economics, who found that boys were four times more affected by being top of the class than girls.
The findings challenge the argument that pupils do better if they're pushed into a higher-performing peer group.
Researchers believe that the impact of being ranked highly at primary school was equivalent to being taught by a highly effective teacher for one year and the confidence boost was found to last into secondary school, with highly ranked pupils continuing to do well after year 6.
the impact of class ratings the study looked at what happened to pupils
of similar ability who would have ranked differently at different
schools, for instance because the average level of pupils at one school
was much higher than at another.