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  • Created on: 23-05-12 19:23


Class patterns of achievement
-Working class achieve less that middle class pupils.

-Kids of high professionals are 2-3 times more likely to get 5 A*-C grades at GCSE.
-Also 5 times more likely to go to uni
-Explanations: - External of home background (outside school)
                        - Internal factors (in school)

-Home background differences may play a key role in difference in achievement. Home background can be grouped:
Cultural factors: include class diff. in norms & values acquired through socialistion, attitudes to education, speech codes etc
Material factors: physical necessities e.g. housing, diet & income.

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Cultural deprivation theory

Main cultural explanation for class diff. in achievement is this.

- 'Culture' refers to all the norms, values, beliefs, skills & knowledge that a society regards as important.
- This culture is then passed to the next generation through socialisation.
- Different classes socialise their children differently --> may affect achievement.
- Some working class parents fail to transmit appropriate norms, values, attitudes etc. (which is the 'right' culture needed for educational success)
- Theorists see 3 factors responsible for working class underachievement:
Intellectual stimulation -children may not have educational toys, less likely to read to them. Affects intellectual development so when they begin school they are at a disadvantage compared to middle class.
Speech codes -Basil Bernstein (1975) distinguishes between elaborated & restricted speech codes:
--> WC use restricted code: less analytic & more descriptive, limited vocab, simple sentences and gestures. Assumes the listener shares meaning that the speaker holds, so the speaker doesn't spell them out.
--> MC use elaborated code: more analytic, wide vocab & complex sentences. Speakers spell out meaning & doesn't assume the listener shares them. Elaborated code used in educations - educational advantage.

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Working class subculture - Identify 3 aspects of WC subculture that contribute to achievement:

--> Immediate gratification - wanting rewards now.

--> Fatalism - 'whatever will be, will be' dont believe they can improve their position through own efforts.

--> Low value on education - don't value it so don't try. WC parents make less effort e.g. parents evening.


- Ignores importance of material factors such as poverty.
- Ignores impact of school factors e.g. -ve labelling by teachers.
- Blames victim for their failure.

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Material deprivation (Poverty)

Material deprvation or poverty can cause WC under achievement because of:
--> Poor housing: overcrowding (nowhere to do hmwk), being homeless or living in temp. accommodation (frequent moves & changing schools)
--> Poor diet: can lead to illness, absences from school & lack of concentration due to hunger.
--> Low income: lack of materials (books etc.), lack of right uniform & not being able to afford uni fees.

Cultural Capital Theory (Combines cultural and material explanations)
Marxists (Bourdieu 1984) "MC pupils are more successful than WC because parents possess more capital or assets"
--> Economic capital - wealth MC own
--> Cultural capital - attitudes, values, skills & knowledge etc of MC

Educational capital - MC use economic & cultural capital to give their children an advantage to get qualifications. - Allows kids to get MC jobs & more economic capital. - Reproducing from generation to generation.

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School factors and achievement

- Meanings we attach to someone or omething to make sense of them.
- E.g. MC are bright, motivated, cooperative etc.
- Becker (1961) argues teachers label MC as 'ideal pupils' & prefer to teach them to WC children.

The self-fulfilling prophecy
- A prediction made about something or someone.
- E.g. "he's stupid, he's bound to fail"
- Key feature: is that it comes true simply because it's been made (e.g. he goes on to fail his exams)
- Teachers create this through labels given to pupils.
- 'What teachers believe, pupils achieve'
MC bright (so suceed) -------> WC not bright (fail)

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- Extreme & institutionalised form of labelling.
- Works by putting all pupils of a similar ability together.
- E.g. 'bright' together & 'thick' together.
- Lacey (1970) streaming as differentiation -separating sheep from goats & educating differently.
- Streaming creates a self-fulfilling prophecy.
- Douglas: IQ of people in bottom stream low, IQ of people in top stream high.
- Those in lower streams are not put in for higher level exams.

Pupil subcultures
A subculture is a group whose beliefs, values & attitudes differ to some extent from the culture of wider society. Pupils may form their own subcultures in response to labelling.
--> Pro-school subcultures: usually formed by pupils in higher streams, accept school values & goals of hard work etc.
--> Anti-school subcultures: formed by those in lower streams, reject school's values, dislike school.

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Lacey argues lower stream pupils join anti-school subcultures because school deprives them of status & labels them failures

Educational policies
- Not just what teachers decide to do in schools.
- Government policies have important effects.
- E.g. some sociologists argue that marketisation policies have increased amount of streaming in schools.

- Policies on issues such as grants, fees, maintenance allowances, school leaving age etc. <--------Have an impact on home background factors such as material or cultural deprivation.

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Patterns of ethnic achievement are complex, cross-cut by gender & social class. E.g:
--> Black, pakastani & bangladeshi pupils do worst; Indians do best.
-->White are close to national average (because they form the majority of schools)
-->Black/white WC pupils - girls do better.
-->Asian WC - boys do better
-->WC black girls do better than WC white girls.

Explaining differences
Internal factors - in schools & education system
External factors - outside education & at home

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Intellectual & language skills
- Cultural deprivation theory claims that children from low-income black families lack intellectual stimulation ---> they fail to develop reasoning & problem-solving skills.
- Bereiter & Engelmann - the language of poorer black american families is ungrammatical & disjointed.

Attitudes, values & family structure
--> Fatalism & immediate gratification: Cultural deprivation theorists claim that the subculture into which some black kids are socialised is fatalistic & focused on immediate gratification -------> resulting in lack of motivation.
--> Lack of a male role model: African-caribbean boys may turn to an anti-educational macho 'gang culture'. Murray (1984) THE NEW RIGHT - argues that high rate of lone parents & lack of male role model leads to under-achievement.
--> Culture of poverty: Moynihan (1965) no male role model -> inadequately socialised children who fail at school ->become inadequate parents themselves -> perpetuate a culture of poverty.

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--> The impact of slavery: Pryce (1979) Black caribbean culture is less resistant to racism because of experience of slavery ----> many blacks have low self-esteem & under-achieve.
--> Asian families: Khan (1979) Asian family is an obstacle to achievement. Boys do better than girls

White WC pupils
-They also under-achieve
-Maybe because they have lower aspirations.
-LUPTON (2004) studied 4 schools. Poor behaviour levels in white WC schools - linked to lower levels of parental support.
- EVANS (2006) street culture in white WC can be brutal & brought into school. Strong pressure to reject education.

Compensatory education
An educational policy that aims to counter the effects of cultural deprivation.
--> OPERATION HEADSTART: USA, to compensate children for the cultural deficit they are said to suffer because of deprived backgrounds.

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Criticisms of cultural deprivation

Keddle argues it is a victim-blaming explanation. Minority ethnic kids are culturally different, not culturally deprived. Under achieve because schools are ethnocentric - in favour of white.

Ball - minority ethnic parents disadvantage as they are less aware of negotiations in UK schools. Results in 'cultural exclusion'.

Compensatory education imposes the dominant white middle-class culture on minority ethnic group pupils' own culture.

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-A lack of the physical or economic resources essential for normal life in society.
-Educational failure is the result of lack of material factors such as substandard housing & low income.
-Ethnic minorities more likely to face this.
>Pakastanis and Bangladeshis - more likely to be poor
> For many, high unemployment, low income & overcrowding.
>Swann Report (1985) - social class accounts for atleast 1/2 of the difference in educational achievement.
> Lowest achieving ---> lowest social class position.

Racism in wider society
Discrimination at work --> Low pay & unemployment. Affects kids education opportunities

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INTERNAL FACTORS and ethnic differences

Black pupils
Gillborn and Youdell (2000) found teachers had 'racialised expectations' about black pupils. They expect more discipline problems and saw their behaviour as threatening. Black pupils were more likely than others to be punished for the same behaviour. The pupils felt that their teachers underestimated their ability and picked on them.
--> Conclude that conflict between white teachers and black pupils stems from the racist stereotypes that teachers have, rather than from the pupils' actual behaviour.
--> This can cause under-achievement because it leads to:
-Higher levels of exclusions of black boys  -Black pupils being placed in lower sets or streams.

Asian pupils
Wright (1992) found that Asian primary school pupils were stereotyped by teachers & treated differently:
-Assumed the kids would have a poor grasp of english & so they use simplistic language when speaking to them.
-They mispronounced childrens names.    -They saw them as a problem that they could ignore.

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Result: - Asian pupils (especially girls) were arginalised & prevented from participating fully, affecting their self-esteem.

CONNOLLY (1998) found primary school teachers saw Asian pupils as passive and conformists.
Asian boys more feminine, vulnerable & less able to protect themselves.

Pupils may react in a variety of different ways to racist labelling in school, including forming or joining pupil subcultures.
SEWELL (1998) found that black boys adopted a range of responses to teachers' racist labelling of them as rebellious & anti-school.
> CONFORMISTS were the largest group. Keen to succeed, adopted schools goals & had friends from different ethnic groups.
>INNOVATORS were the 2nd largest group. Pro-education but anti-school.
>RETREATISTS tiny minority of isolated indiv.
>REBELS were small but highly visible minority of black pupils. Reject schools goals

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