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  • Created on: 05-05-17 09:13

Explaining Class Differences

One popular explanation of class differences in achievement is that better-off parents can afford to send their children to private schools, which many believe provide a higher standard of education. Eg, average class sizes are half than those in state schools. 

Although these schools only educate 7% of Britatins children, they account for nearly half of those entering the elite universities of Oxford and Cambridge. 

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Internal and External Factors

Internal Factors - Factors within schools and the education system, such as interactions between pupils and teachers, and inequalities between schools.

External Factors - These are factors outside the education system, such as the influence of home and family background and wider society. 

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Cultural Deprivation

A nationwide study by the Centre for Longitudinal Studies (2007) found that by the age of three, children from disadvantaged backgrounds are already up to one year behind those from more priviledged homes and the gap widens with age. 

According to theorists, working class families fail to socialise their children adequately. These children grow up 'culturally deprived'. 

That is, they lack the cultural equipment needed to do well at school. 

3 main aspects of cultural deprivation: language, parents' education and working class subculture. 

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Language is an essential part of education and the way in which parents communicate with their children affects their development. 

EG, Hubbs-Tait et al found that where parents use language that challenges their children to evaluate their own understanding or abilities, IE, 'are you ready for the next step'? 

Feinstein found that educated parents are more likely to use language in this way. By contrast, less educated parents tend to use language in ways that only require children to make simple statements, EG, 'What's that animal called?'. 

Feinstein also found that educated parents are more likely to use praise. This encourages their children to develop a sense of their own competence. 

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Speech Codes

Bernstein also identifies differences between working class and middle class language that influence achievement. He distinguishes between two types of speech code :

  • Restricted Code - Typically used by the working class. It has limited vocab and is based on the use of short, often unfinished, simple sentances. Speech is unpredictable and may often involve only a single word. 
  • Elaborated Code - Typically used by the middle class. It has a wider vocab and is based on longer, grammatically more complex sentances. 

These differences in speech code may give middle class children an advantage at school and put working class at a disadvantage. This is because the elaborated code is the language used by teachers, textbooks and exams. 

Early socialisation into the elaborated code means that middle class children are already fluent users of the code when they start school. Thus, they feel 'at home' in school and are more likely to succeed. 

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Parents' Education

Cultural deprivation theorists argue that parents' attitudes to education are a key factor affecting children's achievement. EG, study by Douglas found that working class parents placed less value on education. As a result, this meant that they were less ambitious for their children, gave them less encouragement and took less interest in their education. They were also less likely to discuss their children's progress with teachers.

Feinstein reaches similar conclusions. He says that parents' own education is the most important, since middle class parents tend to be better educated, they are able to give their cihldren an advantage by how they socialise them. This occurs in a number of ways :

  • Parenting Style
  • Parents' Educational Behaviours
  • Use of Income
  • Class, Income and Parental Education
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Parenting Style

Educated parents' parenting style emphasises consistent discipline and high expectations of their children, this supports achievement by encouraging active learning and exploration.

By contrast, less educated parents' style is marked by harsh or inconsistent disclipline, this emphasises 'doing as you're told' and 'behaving yourself'. This prevents the child from learning independence and self control, leading to lower motivation at school, etc. 

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Educational Behaviour

Educated parents are more aware of what is needed in order to assist their childs educational progress. As a result, they engage in behaviour such as, reading to their children, teaching them letters, etc. 

Educated parents also recognise the educational value of trips to places such as museums and libraries. 

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Use of Income

Better educated parents tend to have higher incomes, and they also tend to spend their incomes in ways that promote their kids educational success. 

EG, Bernstein and Young, found middle class mothers are more likely to buy educational toys, books and activities that enourage reasoning skills and stimulate intellectual development. 

Working class homes are more likely to lack these resources and this means these children start school without these skills. 

Educated parents also have a better understanding of nutrition and its importance in child development -> Also means higher income = Buy more nutritious food. 

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Class, Income and Parental Education

Feinstein notes - Parental education has an influence on children's achievement in its own right, reagrdless of class income. 

Thus, even within a given social class, better educated parents tend to have children who are more successful at school. This may help to explain why not all children of w/c parents do equally badly, and not all middle class families are equally successful. 

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Working-Class Subculture

Cultural Deprivation theorists argue that lack of parental interest in their childs education reflects the subcultural values of the working class. 

Large sections of the w/c have different goals, beliefs, attitudes and values from the rest of society and this is why their children fail at school. 

Sugarman - Takes this view - He argues that w/c subculture has four key features that act as a barrier to educational achievement : 

  • Fatalism - A belief in fate.
  • Collectivism - Valuing being part of a group more than succeeding as an individual.
  • Immediate Gratification - Seeking pleasure now, rather than making sacrifices in order to get rewards in the future.
  • Present Time Orientation - Seeing the present as more important than the future and so not having long-term goals. 
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Compensatory Education

Compensatory education programmes aim to tackle the problem of cultural deprivation by providing extra resources to schools and communities in deprived areas. They intervene early in the socialisation process to compensate for the deprivation they experience at home. 

Best known example - Operation Head Start in the US, a multi billion dollar scheme of pre-school education in poorer areas introduced in the 1960's. 

The well known TV show, Sesame Street was initially part of Head Start, transmitting the values - importance of numeracy and literacy. 

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The Myth of Cultural Deprivation

Keddie - Describes cultural deprivation as a 'myth' and sees it as a victim blaming explanation. She dismisses the idea that failure at school can be blamed on a culturally deprived home background. She points out that a child cannot be deprived of its own culture and argues that working class children are simply culturally different, not culturally deprived. 

They fail because they are put at a disadvantage by an education system that is dominated by middle class values. 

Keddie argues that rather than seeing w/c culture as deficient, schools should recognise and build on its strengths and should challenge teachers anti w/c prejudices. 

Troyna and Williams - argue that the problem is not the childs language, but the school's attitues towards it. Teachers have a 'speech hierarchy'. 

According to Blackstone & Mortimore - they attend fewer parents evenings, not because of lack of interest but because they work longer or less regular hours or are put off by the schools middle class atmosphere. 

They may want to help their childs progress at school, but they may lack the knowledge etc to do so. 

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Material Deprivation

Many other sociologists see material deprivation as the cause of underachievement. 

The term refers to poverty and a lack of material necessities such as adequate housing and income. Poverty is closesly linked to educational underachievement, for example;

  • According to the Department for Education (2012) barely a third of pupils eligible for fsm achieve 5 or more GCSE's at A*-C grade, including english and maths. 
  • According to Flaherty - Money problems in the family are a significant factor in younger chidren's non-attendance at school. 
  • Exclusion and Truancy are more likely from children from poor families. 
  • Nearly 90% of 'failing schools' are located in deprived areas.
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Poor housing can affect pupils' achievement both directly and indirectly. For example, overcrowding can have a direct effect by making it harder for the child to study.

Overcrowding means nowhere to do homework, disturbed sleep from sharing rooms and so on. 

For young children, development can be impaired through lack of space for safe play and exploration. 

Poor housing can also have indirect effects, notably on the childs health and welfare. EG, children in overcrowded housing run greater risks of gaving an accident. 

Cold or damp housing may also lead to ill health.

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Diet and Health

Howard notes that young people from poorer homes have lower intakes of energy, vitamins and minerals. Poor nutrition affects health, for example by weakening the immune system and lowering the childs energy levels. This may lead to a higher chance of illness, and therefore absences from school and difficulties concentrating in class. 

Children from poorer homes are also more likely to have emotional or behavioural problems. According to Wilkinson, among ten year olds, the lower the social class, the higher rate of hyperactivitity, anxiety, etc. This is likely to have a negative impact on the childs education. 

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Financial Support and the Costs of Education

Lack of financial support - Means that children from poorer have to do without equipment and miss out on experiences that would enhance their education. 

Bull refers to this as 'the costs of free schooling'. 

A study by Tanner et al found that the cost of items such as transport, uniforms, books etc place a heavy burden on poor families. 

As a result, poor children may have to do with hand me downs, and cheaper equipment, this may result in them being bullied or isolated by peers. 

According to Flaherty, fear of stigmatisation may also help to explain why 20% of those eligible for fsm do not take them up. 

Lack of funds also means that children from low income families often need to work. Ridge - Found that children take on jobs such as baby sitting, cleaning and paper rounds - This can then have a negative impact on their schoolwork. 

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Fear of Debt

Going to Uni usually involves getting into debt.

W/c people are more likely to not associate well with the idea of debt and therefore are put off going to Uni. 

Jackson found they're more debt adverse. 

Increases in tuition fees from 2012. 

W/c students who do go to uni are less likely to get financial help from their families because they simply can't afford it. 

Study found only 43% of w/c people recieve help from home. 

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Cultural Capital - Bourdieu

Three types of capital :

He argues that both cultural and material factors contribute to educational achievement and are not sererate but interrelated. 

Uses the conecpt of 'capital' to explain why the middle class are so successful. 

He identifies two further types of capital aside from money. He calls these 'educational capital' and 'cultural capital'. 

He argues that the middle class generally have more of all three of these types of capital. 

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Cultural Capital

Bourdieu uses the term cultural capital to refer to : knowledge, attitudes, values, language, etc. 

He sees middle class culture as a type of culture, because like wealth, it gives an advantge to those who possess it. 

Agrees with Bernstein -> Through socialisation, middle class children aquire the ability to basically be better!

This gives the middle class children an advantage at school. 

By contrast, working class children find that school devalues their culture as 'rough' and inferior. Many w/c pupils end up truanting or leaving early. 

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Educational and Economic Capital

Bourdieu argues that educational, economic and cultural capital can be converted into one another. 

EG, middle class children with cultural capital -> better equipped to meet the demans of school and gain the qualifications. 

Similarly, wealthier parents can convert their economic capital into educational capital by sending their children to private schools and paying for things such as tutors. 

'Selection by mortgage' - Wealthier parents are more likely to be able to afford houses in the catchment aeas where the more successful schools are. 

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A test of Bourdieu's ideas

Sullivan -> used questionaires to conduct a survey of 465 pupils in four schools. To assess their cultural capital, she asked them about a range of different activites, such as reading and TV viewing habits - Asked if they visited places like art galleries, museums and theatres. 

She found that those who read complex fiction and watched serious TV documentaries developed a wider vocab and greater cultural knowledge. 

Pupils with the greatest cultural capital were children of graduates. These pupils were more likely to be successful at GCSE. 

However, although successfuk pupils with greater cultural capital were more likely to be middle class. 

Sullivan found that cultural capital only accounted for part of the class difference in achievement. 

Where pupils of different classes had the same level of cultual capital, middle class pupils still do better! Sullivan concludes that the greater resources and aspirations of middle class families explain the remainder of the class gap in achievement. 

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Class Differences in Achievement - Internal Factor

Processes happen within schools too that can help to explain class differences. 

Many of these involve the daily face-to-face interactions between teachers and pupils, etc. 

These internal factors include, Self fulfilling Prophecy, Pupil Subcultures, and how Pupils' class identities interact with the school and its values. 

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To label someone is to attach a meaning or definition to them.

Studies show that teachers often attach labels to students regardless of their actual ability or attitude. 

Becker carried out an important interactionist study of labelling. Based on interviews with 60 high school teachers, he found that they judge pupils to how closely they fit the image of the 'ideal pupil'. 

Pupils' work, conduct and appearance were key factors influencing teachers judgements. Teachers saw the students from a middle class background as closest to the ideal and w/c students as the furthest away because they regarded them as badly behaved. 

HOWEVER -> Different teachers may have different notions of the ideal pupil. A more recent study by Jorgensen - Depends on the social class makeup of the school. 

EG -> In the largely w/c school 'Aspen Primary School', where staff said that discipline was a major problem, the ideal pupil was quiet and obedient. 

OR Middle class schools, where discipline isn't a problem, personality and academic ability were important.

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Involves sperating children into different ability groups or classes called 'streams'. Each group is then taught seperatly from the others for all subjects. 

As Becker shows, teachers do not usually see w\c students as the ideal pupils. They tend to believe that they lack ability and have low expectations of them. As a result of this, w/c children are usually found in the lower streams. 

Once streamed, it is usually difficult to move up to a higher stream and pupils are more or less locked into their low expectations of them. Children in these streams 'get the message' that their teachers have basically written them off. 

Then creates a self fulfilling prophecy, in which pupils' live up to their teachers' low expectations of them by underachieving. 

By contrast, middle class pupils tend to benefit from streaming. They are likely to be placed in higher streams, reflecting their teachers' view of them as the ideal pupil. As a result, they develop a better self concept, work harder and improve their grades.

Douglas found that children placed in a higher stream at age 8 had improved their IQ by the age of 11. 

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Streaming and the A-C economy

2 London secondary schools studied by Youdell and Gillborn. This shows how teachers use stereotypical notions of 'ability' to stream pupils. 

They found that teachers are less likely to see w/c pupils and black pupils as having ability. As a result, these pupuls are more likely to be placed in lower streams and entered for lower tier GCSEs. 

This denies them knowledge and opportunity needed to gain good grades and widens the gap in achievement. 

Gillboen and Youdell link streaming to the policy of publishing exam league tables. 

Publishing league tables creates what they call an A-C economy in schools, this is a system in which schools focus their time, effort and resources on those pupils who are more likely to get 5 grade C's or higher and so boost the school's league table position. 

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Pupil Subcultures

Group of people who share similar values and behaviour patterns. These often emerge as a response to the way pupils have been labelled, and in particular as a reaction to streaming. 

  • Differentiation - Process of teachers categorising pupils according to how they percieve their ability, attitude and/or behaviour. Streaming is a form of differentiation, since it categorises pupils into seperate classes.
  • Polarisation - Process by which pupils respond to streaming by moving towards one of two opposite extremes. In his study of Hightown boys' grammar school, Lacey found that streaming polarised boys into a pro-school and an anti-school subculture. 

The Pro School Subculture

Pupils who are placed in high streams (who are largely middle class) tend to remain committed to the values of the school. They gain their status in the approved manner, through acadamic success. Tend to form a pro-school subculture. 

Anti-School Subculture

Those placed in low streams (tend to be w/c) - they suffer a loss of self-esteem : school has undermined them in a position of inferior status. 

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Response to Streaming

Hargreaves - Found a similar response to labelling and streaming in a secondary modern school. 

From the point of view of the education system, boys in the lower streams were triple failures - They had failed their 11+ exam, they had been placed in low streams and they had been labelled as 'worthless'. 

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Abolishing Streaming

Ball takes the analysis a step further in his study of Beachside, a comprehensive that was in the process of getting rid of banding, in favour of mixed ability schools. 

He found that when the school abolished banding, the basis for pupils to polarise into subcultures was largely removed and the influence of the anti school subculture declined. 

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Variety of Pupil Responses

Woods argues that other responses to labelling and streaming may include : 

  • Ingratiation - Being the teachers' pet
  • Ritualism - Going through the motions and staying out of trouble
  • Retreatism - Daydreaming and mucking about
  • Rebellion - Outright rejection of everything that school stands for
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Criticisms of Labelling Theory

Labelling theory has been accused of determinism - that is, it assumes that pupils who are labelled have no choice but to fulfil the prophecy and will inevitably fail. 

However, studies such as Fuller's show that this is not always true. 

Marxists also critcise labelling theory for ignoring the wider structures of power within which labelling takes place. Labelling theory tends to blame teachers for labelling pupils, but fails to explain why they do so. 

Marxists argue that labels are not merely the result of teachers' individual prejudcies, but stem from the fact that teachers work in a system that reproduces class divisions. 

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Pupils' Class Identities and the School

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Refers to the 'dispositions' or learned, taken for granted ways of thinking, being and acting that are shaped by a particular social class. It includes their tastes and preferences about lifestyles and consumption, their outlook on life and their expectations about what is normal or real.

A groups habitus is formed as a response to its position in the class structure. Although one class's is not necassarily better than another's, the middle class has the power to define its habitus as superior and to impose it on the education system. As a result, the schools puts higher value on middle class tastes, preferences and so on. 

Linked to Bourdieu's concept of cultural capital because the school has a middle class habitus - this gives middle class pupils an advantage, while w/c culture is regarded as inferior. 

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Symbolic Capital and Symbolic Violence

Because schools have a middle class habitus, pupils who have been socialised at home into middle-class tastes and preferences gain 'symbolic capital' or status and recognition from the school -> deemed to have worth or value. 

By contrast, the school devalues the working class habitus, so that w/c pupils tastes etc are deemed to be tasteless and worthless.

Bourdieu calls this withholding of symbolic capital. By defining the w/c and their tastes as inferior, symbolic violence reproduces the class structure and keeps the lower classes 'in their place'.

Thus, there is a clash between w/c habitus and the schools middle class habitus. As a result, w/c students may experience the world of education as unnatural. 

EG - Archer found that w/c pupils felt that in order to be educationally successful, they would have to change how they talked and presented themselves. 

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'Nike' Identities

Many pupils were concerned that society and schoo looked down on them. This symoblic violence led them to seek alternative ways of creating self-worth, status and value. 

They did this by constructing meaningful class identities for themselves by investing heavily in 'styles', especially through consuming branded clothing such as Nike. 

Wearing brands was a way of 'being me'. 

Pupils' identites were also strongly gendered, EG -> girls adopted a hyper-heterosexual feminie style. Style performances were heavily policed by peer groups and not performing was 'social suicide'. 

However, at the same time, it led to conflict with the schools dress code. Reflecting the school's middle-class habitus, teachers opposed 'street styles'. These pupils risked being labelled as rebels. 

Archer argues that the schools middle-class habitus stigmatises w/c pupils identities. 

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'Nike' Identities Continued

Nike styles also play a part in w/c pupils' rejection of higher education, which they saw as both unrealistic and undesirable :

  • Unrealistic : Because it was not for 'people like us', but for richer, posher and cleverer people and they would not fit in.
  • Undesirable : Beause it would not 'suit' their preferred lifestyle or habits. E.G., they did not want to live on a student loan because they would be unable to afford the street styles that gave them their identity.

Archer et al - w/c pupils' investment in Nike identities is not only a cause of their educational marginalisation by the school, it also expresses their positive preference for a particular lifestyle. Result - W/c pupils may choose self elimination or exclusion from education.
In other words - not only so they 'get the message' that education is not for the,, but they actively choose to reject it.

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Working Class Identity and Educational Success

Archer's study largely deals with the relationship between w/c identity and educational failure. However, some w/c pupils do succeed.

Study of two groups by Ingram - two w/c groups of Catholic boys from the same highly deprived neighbourhood in Belfast -> One group had passed their 11-plus exam and gone to grammar school, while the other group had failed and went to a local secondary school.
Grammar school had a strongly middle class habitus of high expectations and academic achievement, while the secondary school had low expectations of its underachieving pupils.

Ingram found that having a w/c identity was inseparable from belonging to a w/c loacality -> Neighbourhoods dense networks of family and friends were a key part of the boys' habitus. Gave them an intense feeling of belonging. As in Archer's study, street culture and branded sportswear were a key part of the boys sense of identity.

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Class Identity and Self Exclusion

Despite class inequalities in education, many more w/c young people now go on to uni. Even here however, the clash between w/c identity and the habitus of higher education is a barrier to success.
E.G. Evans - studied a group of 21 w/c girls from a south london comprehensive studying for their A-Levels. Evans found that they were reluctant to apply to elite uni's such as Oxbridge and that the few who did apply felt there were hidden barriers that they did not fit in.

Bourdieu - Many w/c people think of places like Oxbridge as being, 'not for the likes of us'. This feeling comes from their habitus.

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Ethnic Differences in Achievement

As with class differences, this can be split into internal and external factors when thinking about ethnic differences in achievement :

  • External Factors - Factors outside of the education system - such as home and family background.
  • Internal Factors - Factors within schools and the education system, such as interactions between pupils and teachers and inequalities between schools.
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External Factors - Ethnic Differences in Achieveme

1. Cultural Deprivation -

Includes things such as : Intellectual and linguistic skills, attitudes and values, family structure and parental support.

Intellectual and Linguistic Skills :
Theorists see the lack of intellectual and linguistic skills as a major cause of underachievement for many minority children. - They argue that many children from low income black families lack intellectual stimulation and enriching experiences. -> Leaves them poorly equipped for school.

Attitudes and Values :
See lack of motivation - a major cause of the failure of many black children - most are socialised into mainstream culture which instils ambition, etc -> to make sacrifices necessary to achieve long term goals. - Black children do not get socialised into this.
Equips them for success in education.

Family Structure and Parental Support
Theorists argue that there is a failure to socialise children adequately.

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Sewell : Fathers, Gangs and Culture

Sewell argues that it is not the absence of fathers as role models that leads to black boys underachieving, but instead : he sees the problem as a lack of fatherly nurturing or 'tough love'.
Sewell argues that black students do worse than their asian counterparts because of cultural differences in socialisation and attitudes towards education.

HOWEVER - Critical race theorists such as Gillborn argue that it is not peer pressure but institutional racism within the education system.

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Asian Families

While many black families have absent fathers, in Sewell's view, Indian and Chinease pupils benefit from supportive families that have an 'Asian work ethic'.

Lupton - Argues that adult authority in Asian families is similar to the model that operates in schools.

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White Working Class Families

Most research focuses on black families and their structure as possible causes of underachievement - However, w/c white pupils often underachieve and have lower aspirations.
E.g. - Survey of 16,000 pupils by McCulloh found that ethnic minority pupils are more likely to aspire to go to uni compared with white pupils.

This low level of aspiration and achievement may be the result of lack of parental support.

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Criticisms of Cultural Deprivation Theory

Driver - Critcises cultural deprivation theory for ignoring the positive effects of ethnicity on achievement. He shows that the black Caribbean family - far from being dysfunctional - Provides girls with positive role models of strong independent women. Driver argues that this may be why black girls tend to be more successful than boys in education.
Keddie - Sees cultural deprivation as a victim-blaming explanation - she argues that ethnic minority children are culturally different, not culturally deprived.

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Material Deprivation and Class

Material Deprivation means a lack of those physical necessities that are seen as essential or normal for life in today's society. In general, w/c people are more likely to face poverty and material deprivation.
According to Palmer :

  • Almost half of all ethnic minority children live in low-income households, against a quarter of white children.
  • Ethnic minorities are almost twice as likely to be unemployed compared with whites
  • Ethnic minority households are around 3 times more likely to be homeless.

Several reasons why some ethnic minorities may be at greater risk of material deprivation :

  • Cultural factors preventing women from working outside of the home
  • Lack of language skills and qualifications not recognise by U.K. employers
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Does Class Override Ethnicity

Even Indian and Chinease pupils who are materially deprived still do better than most. E.g. In 2011, 86% of Chinease girls who received free school meals achieved five or more higher grade GCSE's, compared with only 65% of white girls who were not receiving fsm.

This suggests that material deprivation and social class factors do not completely override the influence of ethnicity.

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Racism in Wider Society

Rex - shows how racial discrimination leads to social exclusion and how this worsens the poverty faced by ethnic minorities. E.G. In housing - Discrimination means that minorities are more likely to be forced into substandard accommodation compared to white people of the same class.
In employment there is also evidence of discrimination - Wood - Sent 3 closely matched job applications to almost 1000 job vancancies - Gave them names matched with ethnicity etc. Results showed that - 1 in 16 ethnic were offered the job and 1 in 9 white were offered a job.

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Internal Factors - Labelling, Identities and Respo

According to Gillborn - In one local education authority - black children were the highest achievers on entry to primary school, yet by the time it got to GCSE, they had the worst results of any ethnic group.

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Labelling and Teacher Racism

Interactionists focus on the different labels teachers give to children from different ethnic backgrounds. Their studies show that teachers often see black and Asian pupils as being far from the 'ideal pupil'. E.G. - Black pupils are often seen as disruptive and Asians as passive. These labels may lead teachers to treat them differently.

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Black Pupils and Discipline

Gillborn and Youdell - Found that teachers were quicker to discipline black pupils than others for the same behaviour.

They argue that this is the result of teachers' 'racialised expectations'. They found that teachers expected black pupils to present more disciplined problems.
Black pupils thought that teachers underestimated their ability and picked on them.

This may explain the higher level of exclusions from school of black boys.

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Black Pupils and Streaming

Foster - Found that teachers stereotypes of black people as badly behaved could result in them being placed in lower streams compared with other pupils of the same ability.
May have resulted in self fulfilling prophecy.

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Asian Pupils

Wright - Found that teachers had an ethnocentric view. This affected how they related to Asian pupils - e.g. teachers assumed that they would have a poor grasp of english and left them out of class discussions, etc.

Asian pupils also felt isolated when teachers misinterpreted their names, etc. 

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Pupil Identities

Teachers often define pupils as having steretypical ethnic identities. According to Archer, teachers' dominant discourse defines ethnic minority pupils' identities as lacking the favoured identity of the ideal pupil. 

Archer describes how the dominant discourse constructs 3 different pupil identities :

  • Ideal Pupil Identity - A white, middle class, masculinised identity, with a normal sexuality. This pupil is seen as achieving in the 'right way'.
  • Pathologised Pupil Identity - An Asian 'deserving poor', feminised identity - This pupil is seen as a conformist and culture-bound 'over achiever'. A slogger who succeeds through hard work rather than natural ability. 
  • Demonised Pupil Identity - A black or white, w/c hyper-sexualised identity. This pupil is seen as unintelligent, peer-led, culturally deprived under-achiever. 

For Archer, ethnic minority pupils are likely to be seen as either demonised or pathologised pupils. EG - From interviews with teachers and pupils, she shows how black students are demonised as loud, challenging and with bad home cultures. 

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Chinese Pupils

While successful. but Chinease pupils were seen as achieving success in the 'wrong way' - through hardworking etc, rather than natural ability. 

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Pupil Responses and Subcultures

Fuller and Mac an Ghaill : Rejecting negative labels

Fuller - Study of a group of black girls in year 11 of a London comprehensive school. The girls were untypical because they were high achievers in a school where most black girls were placed into low streams. 

Fuller - Describes how instead of accepting negative stereotypes of themselves, the girls channelled their anger about being labelled into educational success. 

However- They did not seek approval from teachers - Many of whom they regarded as racist. 

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Mirza : Failed strategies for avoiding racism

Like Fuller, Mirza - studied ambitious black girls, who faced teacher racism. Mirza found that racist teachers discouraged black pupils from being ambitious. EG - From ambitious careers. 

Mirza - 3 types of teacher racism :

  • The colour blind - Teachers who believe that all pupils are equal but in practice allow racism to go unchallenged.
  • Liberal Chauvinists - Teachers who believe that black pupils are culturally deprived and they have low expectations of them. 
  • Overt Racists - Teachers who actively discriminate. 
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Sewell - Variety of boys' responses

Sewell focuses on the absense of fathers and the influence of peer groups and street culture to explain the underachievement of black boys. HOWEVER - he also notes that their responses to schooling, including racists stereotyping by teachers can affect their achievement. He identifies 4 such responses :

  • Rebels - Often excluded from school, rejected both the goals and rules of school. 
  • Conformists - Keen to succeed - Accepted the schools goals and had friends from different ethnic groups. Not part of a subculture. 
  • Retreatists - Isolated indiviudals, disconnected from both school and black subcultures.
  • Innovators - Pro education, anti school - They valued school but did not value teachers approval. 
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Evaluation of Labelling and Pupil Responses

Labelling theory shows how teachers' stereotyping can be a cause of failure. 

Assuming that once labelled, pupils automatically fall victim to the self fulfilling prophecy and fail - But this isn't always the case, etc. Mirza shows this. 

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Internal Factors - Institutional Racism

Troyna and Williams - Argue that to explain ethnic differences in achievement - We need to go beyond simply examining individual teacher racism. We must also look at how schools and colleges routinely discriminate against ethnic minorities - They therefore make a distinction between :

  • Individual Racism - Results from the prejudiced views of individual teachers
  • Institutional Racism - Discrimination that is built into the way places such as schools and colleges operate. 
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Marketisation and Segregation

Gillborn - Argues that because marketisation gives schools more scope to select pupils, it allows negative stereotypes to influence decisions about school admissions. 

Gillorns view is supported by Moore and Davenport American research. They show how selction procedures lead to ethnic segregation, with minority pupils failing to get into better secondary schools due to discrimination. 

These procedures favoured white pupils. 

The Commission for Racial Enquiry (1993) - Found that Racism in school means that for admissions, minorities are more likely to end up in unpopular schools. They said, this is because :

  • Racist bias in interviews for school places
  • Lack of info and application forms in different languages
  • Minority parents are often unsure of how systems work concerning admissions- they can then be taken advantage of. 
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Ethnocentric Curriculum

Term describes an attitude or policy that gives a priority to the culture and viewpoint of one particular ethnic group, while disregarding others. This is usually the dominant culture. 

Examples of the ethnocentric curriculum unclude :

  • Languages, literature and music
  • History - Ball criticises the National curriculum for ignoring ethnic diversity. 
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Gillborn - Argues that 'the assessment game' is rigged so as to validate the dominant cultures superiority. 

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Criticisms of Gillborn

1. Black boys' underachievement

Sewell rejects the view of Gillborn - Although he does not believe that racism has dissappeared from schools, he argues that it is not powerful enough to prevent individuals from succeeding. 

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The Gender Gap in Achievement

Official statistics provide evidence of differences in the achievements of girls and boys at several important stages of their education :

  • On starting school - In 2013, Showed girls ahead of boys by between 7 and 17% at the end of year 1.
  • At Key Stages 1 to 3 - Girls do consistently better. This is especially so in English.
  • At GCSE - Gender gap stands at around 10%
  • At AS and A level - Girls are more likely to sit, pass and get higher grades than boys, though the gap is narrower than at GCSE. 
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External Factors and Gender Differences in Achieve

There are a number of reasons fir gender differences in achievement - Can be divided into external and internal factors.
-> External Factors - Factors outside the education system
-> Internal Factors - Within the schools education system

1. Impact of Feminism - Although feminists would say that their rights are not yet the same as men's, they have made a lot of progress into making them better within the education system.

2. Changes in the family - There have been many new changes since the 1970's, these include :

  • An increase in the divorce rate
  • Increase in the number of lone-parent families
  • Smaller families

3. Changes in women's employment :

  • 1970 Equal Pay act
  • Some women now breaking through the 'glass ceiling'

4. Women and their changing ambition - 1990's Girls ambitions have changed

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Internal Factors and Gender Differences in Achieve

1. Equal Oppurtunites -

-> National curriculum - making boys and girls study mostly the same subjects.

2. Positive role models in schools

-> Women teachers likely to be important - About girls further education, motivating them to reach for their ambitions.

3. GCSE and Coursework - Girls :

-> Spend more time on their work

-> Take more care with how it looks

-> bring the right equipment to lessons

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Internal Factors and Gender Differences in Achieve

4 Teacher Attention :
-> The way that boys and girls are interacted with by teachers differs.
-> French found that boys got more attention because they got in trouble more
-> Swann - Boys dominate the class, taking part in class discussions, girls are quieter.

5 Steretypes in Curriculum
-> Textbooks in the 70s used to portray women as housewives, this has since changed.

6 Selection and league tables
-> Jackson notes, introduction of league tables has improved oppurtunites for girls because schools want high achieving girls instead of low achieving boys.

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Feminisation of Education

Sewell - Boys fall behind because education has become feminised.

Shortage of male primary school teachers.

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Explanations of Gender Differences in Subject Choi

1. Gender role socialisation - Norman - From an early age, boys and girls are dressed differently, given different toys and encouraged to take part in different activities.
Schools also play an important part in gender role socialisation. - Boys encouraged to be tough etc, girls encouraged to be shy and quiet.

2. Gender Subject Images
Kelly argues that science is seen as a boys subject because :
-> Science teachers more likely to be men
-> Examples teachers use - Often draw on boys
-> In science lessons, boys take over the lab as if it's 'theirs'

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3. Gender Identity and Peer Pressure :
Subject choice can be influenced by peer pressure - E.G. Boys tend to opt out of music and dance activities because these subjects fall outside of their gender domain.
Paechter - Found that because pupils see sport as mainly within the male gender domain and girls who are 'sporty' have to deal with this image.

4. Gender Career Opportunities
Employment is highly gendered and jobs tend to be sex typed towards men or women - E.g., housewives are a woman's job, etc.

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Pupils' sexual and gender identities

1. Double Standards - Lees - identities a double standard of sexual morality in which boys boast about their own sexual exploits, but call a girl a '****' if she does the same kind of thing.

2. Verbal Abuse - Boys use name calling to put a girl down if they behave or dress in a certain way.

3. Mac and Ghail - The male gaze - the way male pupils and teachers look girls up and down, seeing them as sexual objects and making judgements about their appearances.

4. Male Peer Groups - Mac and Ghaill - Study of Parnell school examines how peer groups reproduce a range of different class based masculine gender identities.

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FUNCTIONALIST perspective on Education

Durkheim - Identities two main functions of education - Creating social solidarity and teaching specialist skills.

Education system gells to create social solidarity by transmitting society's culture - shared beliefs and values to the next generation.

Specialist Skills - Everyone needs to learn to be able to perform their role in society.

Parsons - Meritocracy :
School helps children learn in order to be able to cope with the wider world.
E.g. in school, everyone sits the same exam so is judged on merit, etc.

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Davis and Moore - Role Allocation

Functionalist believe that school also performs the function of selecting and allocating pupils to their future work roles.

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Evaluation of Functionalist

  • Education system does not teach specialised skills adequately as Durkheim claims. E.g. - High level apprenticeships are rare, etc.
  • Equal opportunity in education does not exist.
  • Marxist argue that education in capitalist society only transmits the ideology of a minority - the ruling class.
  • Neoliberals and New Right argue that the state education system fails to prepare young people adequately for work.
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Neoliberal aegue that the state should not provide services such as education, health and welfare.
This is based on the idea that the state must not dictate to individuals and should try not to regulate a free market economy.

The New Right :
A conversavtive political view that incorporates neoliberal economic ideas.
There are similarities between the New Right and Functionalist views :

  • Both believe that some people are naturally more talented than others.
  • Both favour an education system run on meritocratic principles of open competition and one that serves the needs of the economy by preparing young people for work.
  • Both believe that education should socialise pupils into shared values, such as competition.
  • HOWEVER, key difference, new right does not believe that the current education system is delivering these goals and is failing because it is run by the state.
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Chubb and Moe : Consumer Choice

Chubb and Moe say : They want an introduction of a market system within state education that would put control in the hands of the consumers. They argue that this would allow them to shape schools to meet their own needs and this would then improve quality and efficiency.

Each family would be given a voucher and schools would then end up having to compete with each other as they would want the parents voucher as it would be their source of income.

However, New a Right stresses the importance of market forces in education. In the New Right view, there remain two important roles for the state :
-> State imposes a framework on schools within which they have to comepete. E.g. Publication of league tables and exam results - Gives parents knowledge to make informed decisions about choice of school.
-> State ensures schools transmit a shared culture - e.g. by imposing a national curriculum - socialises into single culture heritage.

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Evaluation of the New Right Perspective

-> Ball - Argues that competition between schools benefits the middle class who can use their cultural and economic capital to gain access to better schools.
-> Critics argue that the real cause of low educational standards is social inequality and not enough funding of state schools.
-> Marxists argue that education does not impose a shared national culture, but imposes the culture of a dominant minority ruling class and devalues the culture of the working class and ethnic minorities.

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Marxist Perspective on Education

Marx - Believed that education is based on class division and capitalist exploitation. He described it as a two class system :

  •  Capitalist Class - Own the means of production
  • Forced to sell their labour to the capitalists since they have no means of production. 

This creates the potential for class conflict, eg - If workers realise that they are being exploited then they may demand higher wages, etc. 

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Althusser - ideological state apparatus

Marxists see the state as to how the ruling class maintain their dominant position within society. 

Althusser - State consists of two 'apparatuses' both of which to help keep the capitalist class in power. 

  • Repressive State - Include the police, courts and army when necessary. 
  • Ideological State - Controlling people's ideas, values and beliefs. 

Althusser also believes that the education system performs 2 functions :

  • Education reproduces class inequality
  • Education legitimates class inequality by producing ideologies 
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Willis : Learning to Labour

All Marxists agree that capitalism cannot function without a workforce that is willing to accept exploitation. 

However, whereas Bowles and Gintis see education as a fairly straightforward process. 

Willis - Interested in the way schooling serves capitalism. However, he combines this with an interactionist approach.

The Lads' Counter-Culture

Using qualitative research methods, including participant observation and unstructured interviews, Willis studied the counter school culture of 'the lads' - A group of 12 w/c boys - as they make the transition from school to work. 

They form a distinct counter-culture opposed to the school. They find school meaningless and they do thnigs like smoke and drink outside school, etc. 

Means they are fine doing unskilled labour, etc. 

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Educational Policy in Britain before 1998

Before the industrial rev - There were no state schools - Education was only available to those who could afford it. 

Industrialisation increased the need for an educated workforce and from the late 19th century, state begain to be more involved in education. 

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Selection - Tripartite System

From 1944, education began to be influenced by the idea of meritocracy - that people should acheive their status in life by how hard they work rather than by class background, etc. 

1944 Education Act - Tripartite system - Called this because children were to be selcted to one of three types of secondary - according to their abilities - this was done through the 11+ exam. 

  • Grammar Schools - Offered an academic curriculum - access to higher education, etc
  • Secondary Modern Schools - Offered a 'practical' curriculum - and access to work for those who failed the 11+ exam. These pupils were mainly w/c. 
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Comprehensive School System

Introduced in many areas from 1965 onwards. It aimed to overcome the the class divide of the tripartite system and make education more meritocratic. 

11+ was to be abolished along with grammars and secondary moderns and replaced with comprehensive schools that all students in the area would attend. 

However, it was left to local authorities to decide if they took up this idea and not all did. 

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Refers to the process of introducing market forces into education.

Since the 1998 eduation reform act - introduced my marg thatch

In 2010 - Marketisation was taken even further, by creating academies and free schools. 

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Gerwirtz - Parental Choice

Benefits the middle class because they are able to get the better school for their childre.

Know how school admissions work, eg, go to church or move into catchment area

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Coalition Policies from 2010

Academies - From 2010 - schools were enouraged to leave local authoritiy control and become academies. Funding was taken from local authority budgets - also given control over the curriculum. 

Free Schools - Set up and run by parents, teachers, etc. 

People claim that they improve educational standards by taking control away from the state and giving power to parents.

Allen - Research from Sweden shows that where 20% of schools are free schools, gives only the highly educated families a benefit - and people say standards have fallen since their intro in Sweden. 

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Policies on Gender and Ethnicity


19th Century - females were largely excluded from education. Girls also often had to get a higher mark than boys in the 11+ exam. 

Since the 1970s, policies have been introduced to try and put a stop to this. 

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