AQA Sociology AS Level - Education

1. role of education system

2.class and differential achievement in education

3. ethnicity and differential achievement in education 

4. gender and differential achievement in education 

5. State policy and education


Role of Education


1) prepares children for work 2) justifies inequality 3)ruling class ideology that supports capitalism

Althusser (neo marxist) provides a docile and obedient workforce. Bowles and Gintis 1976 - school and work, hierachy, motivated by good grades. Willis 1977 no obedient workforce, some kids form an anti-school subculture and prolong that into work. Bordieu - Cultural capital.

  • This assumes that people are passive victims 
  • most people know/aware of the inequality in education
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Role of Education


1) teaches skills needed in work and economy 2) sifts and sorts people into their appropriate job roles - allocation 3) plays a part in secondary socialisation 

Durkheim says education passes on norms and values. Parsons says school is a bridge between the family and adult roles in society - meritocracy. Davis and Moore (1945) says schools function is to sort people into positions (stratification)

  • Education is not meritocratic 
  • who you know is sometimes more important than what you know. 
  • not fully prepared for work
  • explanation does not explain conflict. 
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Role of Education

Illich 1971 - Radical

 1) looks after kids 2) sorts people into job roles 3) passes on dominance values 4)helps people learn skills and knowledge - wants a de schooled society.


1)patriachal - Male dominated 2)hidden curriculum reinforces gender differences 3) there is still gender differences in some subjects 4) girls outperform boys 5) males still dominate top position in schools (head teachers)

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Class and differential achievement in education

Processes inside school (internal)

Negative labelling which can lead to a self-fulfilling prophecy of failure
Streaming, as a result of negative labelling. pupils in the top class usually higher class.
subcultures, students may form a anti-school subculture

Material Deprivation (external)

Low economic status can lead to failure in education
1997 - Joseph Rowntree foundation classified one in ten children as poor.
Halsey (1980) lack of financial support was the major factor affecting educational achievement 
Douglas (1964) children in unsatisfactory housing did not do very well in ability tests compared to kids from comfortable backgrounds.
unemployment/low income less money for books, internet access and school trips. low income families cannot afford to support  their kids through uni.
low income may also cause health issues and therefore absence from school

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Class and differential achievement in education

Cultural Deprivation (external)

  • Douglas 1964 found the level of parental interest was the most important factor in educational achievement. 
  • Some sociologists say that working class kids don't have the knowledge and values the aid achievement.
  • some styles of parenting emphasise the importance of education more than others.

Class (external)

  • Sugarman 1970 - pupils from non-manual backgrounds and manual backgrounds have different outlooks. manual - lived for immediate gratification. non-manual - ambitious and deferred their gratification. invest time fro studying and planned future.
  • Hyman 1967 values of the W/C are a self-imposed barrier to improving their position. W/C low value on education
  • but, doesn't explain internal processes, very generalised and ethnocentric
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Class and differential achievement in education

The 2 B's - Bernstein and Bordieu (differences in achievement)

  • Bernstein 1970 found that W/C pupils in the East End of London were not comfortable with the style of language required by school. they used a restricted code.
  • M/C students knew how to use the same elaborated code as the teachers.
  • not all teachers use the elaborated code.
  • restricted code may not be real (Labov 1973)
  • Bordieu 1972, 1974 reckons M/C students are at an adv.  due to their cultural capital (right language, knowledge, attitudes and speech)
  • more cultural capital more success. 
  • M/C families pass on cultural capital and expectations. - cultural reproduction
  • does not take material factors into account.
  • not all W/C pupils fail. 
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Ethnicity and differential achievement in educatio

Some ethnic minorities do better than others: 

  • Modood et al 1997
  • Chinese, African Asians and Indians better qualified than whites
  • Afro-Caribbean women were more likely to have a-levels than white women.
  • Bangladeshi and pakistani women were least well qualified. Afro-caribbean, pakistani and Bangladeshi men were least qualified.
  • Pakistani and Afro-caribbean groups were less likely to get onto uni courses, and more likely to get less prestigious uni's. 
  • Afro-caribbean boys are more likely to be excluded from school. more likely to be put in lower streams and more likely to do vocational courses
  • the Swann report 1985 found that if you took into account financial and social factors there is no significant differences in IQ.
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Ethnicity and differential achievement in educatio

Internal Processes

Labelling- Gillborn 1990 teachers can negatively label black pupils . Afro-Caribbean's were seen as a challenge to authority. 'myth of the black challenge' provides the students with a self-fulfilling prophecy
Ethnocentric curriculum - styled around the dominant culture to provide higher success (white, British)
Institutionally racist - policies and attitudes un-intentially discriminate against ethnic minority groups. Wright 1992 found that even though members of staff said that they were committed to equal opportunities, Asian girls got less attention form teachers. 
Coard 1971 said these will promote a low self-esteem for ethnic minorities

Low self-esteem

Mirza 1992 black girls had positive self esteem and high aspirations. 
Fuller 1980 found that Afro-Caribbean girls in London resisted negative labelling and worked hard to gain success 

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Ethnicity and differential achievement in educatio

Factors outside school

  • Lanuage (EAL- English Additional Language)
  • Labelling theorists would say that language might not affect success, but dialects and accents do.
  • Family life varies
  • Driver and Ballard 1981 high expectations usually mean higher success.
  • single parenthood or divorce can affect the success.
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Gender and differential achievement in education

  • Girls get better results on average in all levels of the national curriculum.
  • girls get better results in most subjects in GCSE
  • girls are more likely to pass their A-levels
  • women are more likely to go to university
  • men seem to have the most success in higher levels of university
  • girls tend to go for communication-based subjects like english and sociology and boys tend to go for the technical ones like DT and maths

Internal Factors 

  • Teaching has been feminised (Mitsos and Browne 1998)
  • Textbooks have been changed to make sure they do not portray the typical female role
  • National curriculum forced girls to do traditional 'boys' subjects. 
  • GCSEs include much more coursework than before, suits girls better as they put in more effort.
  • Swann and Graddol 1993 female achievement is due to quality of interaction they have with their teachers - getting help and support
  • Jackson 1998 boys are negatively labelled. with poor behaviour.
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Gender and differential achievement in education

External Factors

  • Equal Pay act (1971) and Sexual discrimination act 1975 helped to create more equal opportunities
  • Sue Sharpe 1994 girls' priorities have changed they now want careers and qualifications. 
  • Boys tend to spend their money on leisure time and being physically active. Girls are more likely to spend their money on reading and communication
  • the feminist movement caused change in female expectations

Archer 2006 

  • Argues that he current underachievement by boys in education masks the continuing problems that girls still face in education
  • Asian and Chinese pupils are negatively labelled as robots who are incapable of independent thoughts.
  • Black W/C girls are negatively labelled as loud and aggressive.
  • she concludes that the achievement of girls is fragile and problematic
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Gender and differential achievement in education

Why boys underachieve

  • may have an identity crisis. the rise of female independence, the decline of the breadwinner role for men and rise of unemployment. May lead to anti-school subcultures
  • Interpretivists say that teachers have low expectations of boys. 
  • The feminisation of the curriculum means that boys do not have as many role models in school
  • reading is often seen as uncool and girly. boys therefore struggle to develop communication skills.

Subcultures explaining achievement in education

  • Willis 1970s looked at W/C kids get W/C jobs. studied 'lads'. The lads formed an anti-school subculture. therefore coped with underachievement. 
  • Mac an Ghaill 1994 says that subcultures are complicated. boys may join macho boys group, because of masculinity crisis. 
  • Fuller 1980 found that afro-Caribbean girls in London formed a subculture that worked hard to disprove negative labels
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State Policy and education

1944 Education Act - Tripartite System and 11+ - Butler Act

  • major difference in rich and poor education. 
  • aimed to increase equality for all - equal right to education
  • secondary schools were made free for everyone and school leaving age was 15
  • three types of schools Grammar Schools (able kids who passed the 11+ around 20% of kids), Secondary Modern Schools (75-80% of kids who failed the 11+ offered very basic education) and Technical schools (vocational)
  • Still had problems; few technical schools were built, culturally biased test (11+), lowered kids self-esteem - destined to fail, private schools still remained

1965  Labour Gov. made schools Comprehensive

  • positives; no 11+ so 80% of pupils are not labelled as failures, High-ability pupils still can push to achieve
  • Criticisms; streaming, working class areas have low pass rates.
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State Policy and education

1976 push for Vocational education started

  • Youth Training scheme (YTS) started in 1983 for 16-17 year olds
  • 1993 NVQs and GNVQs - practical qualifications
  • New deal in 1997 people on benefits must attend courses if they don't accept work
  • key skills qualifications started
  • Curriculum 2000, reformed the post 16 education, vocational a-levels.

1988 education reform act

  • Conservative gov. introduced it.
  • introduced even more vocational courses and work placement courses
  • National curriculum of compulsory subjects (5-16 year olds)
  • OFSTED was set up to inspect schools and teachers
  • Parentocracy - could choose the schools for their kids and league tables
  • pupils forced to sit SATs at 7, 11 and 14 and GCSEs at 16
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State Policy and education

Compensator education 

  • sure start 1999, early childcare in Britain, 2 years free child care.
  • EMA educational maintenance allowance gives up to £30 a week to students post 16, means-tested benefit. 
  • free school-meals, breakfast clubs and uni bursaries

Policies to promote gender equality

  • National Curriculum promotes equality - choose subjects
  • 1999 gov. gave grants to schools to hold extra writing classes for boys. to help SATs scores
  • in 2005 the breakthrough programme introduced mentoring, after-school classes and e-tutorials for teenage boys in an attempt to improve their exam performance.
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State Policy and education

Chubb and Moore 1990 - Voucher system

  • parents given a voucher to pay for the education of their children
  • free choice of where to spend their vouchers
  • competition would drive up standards.
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Amazing. Great Help! ♥

Fyzah :p


Thank you so much :D



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Hopefully get me an A :)



Love this!Thank you for the great resource! :)

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