Step-Up is a university-based scheme designed to encourage school children from disadvantaged backgrounds from both sides of the community divide in the north-west of Northern Ireland to study science at university. The rationale behind the scheme is attributable to the notion that children from disadvantaged backgrounds generally attend secondary school as opposed to grammar school as a result of their 11 -plus examination results. The Department of Education reported that throughout Northern Ireland, 11.5% of secondary school pupils' progress to higher education compared to 74.4% of grammar school pupils. An integral element of the Step-Up programme is its aim to increase levels of self-esteem and self-efficacy in participants in order to facilitate learning, as these have been shown to be positively correlated with academic achievement. A longitudinal study was conducted employing the use of mixed analysis of covariance to examine the changes in these variables in Step-Up pupils compared to non-Step-Up pupils ranging in age from 16-17 years. It was found that the Step-Up participants had significantly higher self-efficacy and self-esteem, both over time and compared to the non-Step-Up pupils. This suggests that there may be some positive effects of the Step-Up programme in relation to raising levels of self-esteem and self-efficacy.
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