The efforts exerted by children, parents, and schools affect the outcome of the education process. We build this idea into a theoretical model where the effort exerted by the three groups of agents is simultaneously determined as a Nash equilibrium. The empirical analysis tests the model using the British National Child Development Study and finds support for this idea. We identify which factors affect educational attainment directly and which indirectly through effort. From a policy perspective, the paper indicates that affecting effort directly would have a positive impact on attainment.