The American Psychiatric Association estimates that 3 to 7 per cent of all school aged children are diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Even after correcting for general cognitive ability, numerous studies report a negative association between ADHD and educational achievement. With polygenic scores we examined whether genetic variants that have a positive influence on educational attainment have a protective effect against ADHD. The effect sizes from a large GWA meta-analysis of educational attainment in adults were used to calculate polygenic scores in an independent sample of 12-year-old children from the Netherlands Twin Register. Linear mixed models showed that the polygenic scores significantly predicted educational achievement, school performance, ADHD symptoms and attention problems in children. These results confirm the genetic overlap between ADHD and educational achievement, indicating that one way to gain insight into genetic variants responsible for variation in ADHD is to include data on educational achievement, which are available at a larger scale. © 2014 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.