Since 1997 the Effective Pre-school, Primary and Secondary Education project (EPPE/EPPSE) has investigated the attainment and development of approximately 3,000 children from pre-school to the end of Key Stage 3 (KS3). This current phase of the research explored how different phases of education, especially secondary school, are related to students' attainment, social behaviour and dispositions at age 14 (Year 9 in secondary school) and the factors that predict developmental change. However, schools are not the only influence on students' development; families and communities matter too and these 'social' influences are carefully studied in EPPSE 3-14. The net effects of neighbourhood, pre-school, primary and secondary school are reported after taking account of individual student and background influences. The adolescents in this current phase of the EPPSE study shape their own pathways as well as being influenced by their schools, family or neighbourhood. For this reason, this research highlights students' perceptions of themselves as learners as well as their views of aspects of their secondary school provision and experience.