WORKING class parents are just as aspirational for their children as those from affluent backgrounds, but want different things, new research shows.

Academics from Stirling University said the findings challenged a myth that families in disadvantaged areas had lower expectations.

Dr Morag Treanor, a senior lecturer in sociology at the university, went on to warn that the misunderstanding made it easier for schools to blame pupils for a lack of aspiration.

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The findings come from an analysis of 3,500 responses from the Growing up in Scotland study, which is tracking the lives of thousands of children and their families.

The Stirling University study analysed parents’ responses to specific questions from the wider study on the aspirations they hold for their children.

Ms Treanor found that all parents want the best for their offspring, but that there were significant differences in the types of aspirations families held according to their experience of poverty.

Lower-income parents were less likely to know what is possible or how to achieve it. They were also less likely to know how to support their children’s education.

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Those with an experience of living in any type of poverty were 1.6 times more likely to want their children to start a training course or undertake an apprenticeship and they were half as likely as parents with no experience of poverty to want their children to stay on at school beyond the age of 16.

For every type of poverty, parents are between 1.4 and 1.8 times less likely to believe that they can positively influence their child’s achievement at school compared to parents with no experience of poverty.

The report states: "Aspirations, even in communities struggling with

poverty, are very high. The missing element is the knowledge of how to make these aspirations real and obtainable.

"Parents living in poverty also have high aspirations for their children, but feel unable to engage with their child’s learning in the home and feel inadequate in their knowledge and experience to help.

"It is not only politicians that suggest parents have low aspirations for their children.

"Teachers too cite low aspirations on the part of parents for children’s poorer educational attainment. This has an effect on how teachers and school staff engage with children and parents living in poverty."

READ MORE: Poorer pupils falling behind as they get older

Joanna Murphy, chairwoman of the National Parent Forum of Scotland, said parents generally wanted their children to progress further than they had done.

She said: “There is no lack of aspiration from parents for their children, but unfortunately there is a lack of belief that the child can, for example, go to university - often coupled with a fear of how to help the child with forms or interviews and of how much it is all going to cost.

“In my recent experience schools are familiar with what is holding their children back from reaching their full potential and know which pupils need more help."

Eileen Prior, executive director of parent body Connect, said the research had exploded the myth of a poverty of aspiration.

She added: “Almost all parents want the best for their children in life and this research shows that children, no matter what their circumstances, are ambitious for themselves too.

“Something happens during the school experience where hope and ambition falter for families living on low incomes. We need to understand why this is and what can be done to boost confidence and make courses as relevant as possible.”