Press release: School success adds £140,000 to wages, research reveals

Knuckling down and succeeding in school puts an average of £140,000 in a young person’s back pocket, new in-depth analysis of the economic benefit of education involving more than 400,000 people reveals.

It shows achieving 5 A* to C GCSE grades, including the vital English and maths subjects, adds £80,000 to a student’s earnings over their lifetime. A further £60,000 is added to their wages if they go on to achieve at least 2 A levels, highlighting the economic value of the increased knowledge, confidence and employability that arises from success in school.

Backed by the Institute for Fiscal Studies, the Department for Education research stresses the vital role of the government’s plan for education to the economy, which has put more than a million more pupils in ‘good’ or ‘outstanding’ schools than in 2010.

The research involved in-depth economic analysis of more than 400,000 people with different levels of qualifications. The data is from the Labour Force Survey from 2006 to 2013, it includes:

  • more than 6,000 individuals with 5 A* to C GCSE grades, including English and maths, as their highest qualification
  • more than 6,000 individuals with A levels as their highest qualifications

The Institute of Fiscal Studies advised on the methodology used in the analysis and has given full quality assurance to its implementation.

Education Secretary Nicky Morgan said:

We know schooling benefits young people by expanding their knowledge, opening their minds and helping them to fulfil their vast potential. Today’s news shows that doing well in school also benefits their earnings by putting on average an extra £140,000 in their back pockets, and highlighting the central role education plays in our long-term economic plan.

Our plan for education is working – there are now a million more children in good or outstanding schools. And we have presided over a 60% increase in the proportion of young people studying core academic GCSEs – the qualifications that these figures show open doors to future success and employment.

But we won’t stop here – our plan is determined to raise standards further, help teachers to push our young people to do even better and ensure even more fulfil their potential.

This government’s plan for education includes:

  • increasing the quality and value of qualifications by raising standards and toughening up exams
  • intervening in more than 1,000 failing schools, pairing them up with excellent sponsor groups with track records of turning around schools
  • approving an unprecedented number of new schools – more than 400 – amounting to upwards of 200,000 new school places
  • toughening up on behaviour and attendance, allowing teachers to focus on teaching
  • investing billions in helping our most disadvantaged pupils succeed through the pupil premium
  • increasing teaching standards by helping the most talented people to enter the profession – resulting in the highest number of teachers on record

Further analysis also found that the increased number of pupils getting good GCSE grades since 2010 will add more than £1.3 billion to the country’s economy – showing that education reforms are also a significant part of the government’s long-term economic plan.

The research analysed extensive GCSE results from 2010 to 2013, during which the proportion of pupils leaving school with 5 A* to C GCSEs, including English and maths, rose from 44.1% to 47.8%.

This increase is equivalent to 21,600 more pupils fulfilling their potential, representing a long-term boost of £1.3 billion to the country’s economy.

Notes to editors

Read the research papers on GCSEs, A levels and apprenticeships and their economic value.

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