Social class differences in achievement - external factors

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  • Social Class Differences in Achievement - EXTERNAL FACTORS
    • TRENDS - in 2010, 83% of students from higher professional (MC) backgrounds (e.g. parents are doctors) got 5 A*-C grades at GCSE compared to 44& of students from routine (WC) backgrounds (e.g. parents are sales assistants.
    • Cultural Deprivation = the view that WC students lack the attitudes & values to do well as they are poorly socialised.
      • There are 4 elements to it:
        • Linguistic deprivation - BERNSTEIN - the WC speak in restricted code (simple grammar, limited vocab, not context bound) while the MC speak elaborated code (complex grammar, wider vocab, not context bound) - as teachers speak elaborated code & it isn't taught in schools, this means MC students are more able to express ideas & understand teachers, unlike WC students
        • Intellectual development - WC children score less well on intelligence tests than MC students. DOUGLAS - this is because their parents don't read to them or buy them educational toys
          • AO3: WC parents may not be able to afford educational toys - suggests that material dep. rather than cultural dep. causes underachievement
        • Attitudes & Values (1)  - DOUGLAS - WC parents value education less than MC parents, which demotivates their children e.g. they don't attend parents' evenings.
          • AO3: some argue that WC parents may not be able to attend parents' evening due to working or are put off by the MC atmosphere of school.
        • Attitudes & Values (2) - SUGARMAN - the WC seek immediate gratification (wanting pleasure now) - they leave education ASAP to work + also don't focus on achieving grades while in school.
          • AO3: KEDDIE argues WC children are not culturally different to the MC education system.
    • Compensatory education = involves policies to make up for cultural deprivation.
      • In the US = Operation Headstart (parenting classes/sesame street)
      • In the UK = Education Action Zones (more £ to schools in poor areas) &
      • AO3: some argue that these policies don't tackle material deprivation, the main cause of WC underachievement
    • Material deprivation = a lack of necessities (poverty).
      • Evidence it affects achievement = children on free school meals (sign of poverty) get less 5 A*-C's @ GCSE than children who don't get them.
      • Can affect achievement in 3 ways:
        • 1) Housing - cold + damp = illness > time off school > underachieve    + overcrowded = no space to study > underachieve  + temporary accommodation = mental health problems (anxiety) + time off school > underachieve
        • Diet & health - poor diet = weak immune system > time off (illness) + lack of nutrients = poor concentration > underachieve
        • Financial support - poor children = "hand-me-downs" - get bullied, take time off school + poor children = working to support family > less time to study/create stress + WC parents = lack of money for resources > kids underachieve
      • AO3: Even if students live in poverty > may still achieve due to political, religious or cultural values (e.g. Chinese girls on free school meals still achieve highly).
      • AO3: To tackle material deprivation, the government has introduced policies such as free school meals and bursaries
    • Cultural capital = BOURDIEU argues the MC achieves more as they possess more capital > he identifies 3 types:
      • 1) ECONOMIC CAPITAL - money & wealth
      • 2)  EDUCATIONAL CAPITAL - qualifications
      • 3) CULTURAL CAPITAL - knowledge, attitudes + values of the MC
      • MC students have more cultural capital - get taken to art galleries/museums etc. > gives them broader knowledge of some subjects
      • MC parents have more cultural capital - knowledge of education system (e.g. where the best schools are/how to appeal if application is not successful)
      • MC parents - cultural capital + economic capital (buying houses in catchment areas = educational capital for their children).
      • BALL argues the MC have more social capital - access to social networks who can provide advice & support e.g. when trying to get children into the best schools.
      • AO3: Studies have found children who have more cultural capital (e.g. read complex fiction & watch serious documentaries) do better than those with less. However, when working & MC students had equal amounts of cultural capital, MC students still achieved more - this suggests other factors also influence achievement.


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