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Class (External) - Cultural Deprivation

Suggest w/c parents fail to transmit the appropriate norms, values, and attitudes that are the ‘Correct’ culture – needed for educational success. 

Douglas: Parental Interest (w/c scored lower on tests of ability than Middle Class pupils.  He aruges that this is because WC Parents are less likely to support their childs intellectual development e.g. reading to them, attend parents evening)

Mortimore: Interest not a factor, nature of work stops attendance (shifts)

Bernstein: Speech Codes (w/c=restricted, m/c=elaborated - used by teachers, textbooks, exams so puts m/c at advantage)

Hyman: w/c = self-imposed barrier to success (no value on education as they don't feel they have a chance to achieve)

Sugarman: 4 factors of w/c subculture as barrier                                                             Fatalism: belief in fate                                                                                                                                                 Collectivism: value being part of group more than individual success                                                                         Present Time Orientation: Present more important than future. No long term plans/goals                                           Immediate Gratification: seek pleasure now rather than make sacrifices for rewards in the future

Keddie: Cultural Deprivation = victim-blaming explanation

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Class (External) - Material Deprivation

Refers to poverty and a lack of material neccessities such as adequate housing and income

Nearly 90% of 'failing' schools are located in deprived areas

Factors of material deprivation include:

  • Diet & Health
  • Housing
  • Financial Support and Cost Of Education

Wilkinson: The lower the social class, the higher to rate of hyperactivity, anxiety and conduct disorders, all of which have a negative impact on the child's education

Bull: 'Cost of Free Schooling' (lack of financial support means children have to do without equipment and sxperiences that would enhance their educational achievement)

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Class (External) - Cultural Capital

Refers to the attitudes, values, skills, knowledge of the middle class

Bourdieu: m/c pupils are more successful than w/c pupils because their parents posses more capital ‘assets’

  • m/c advantaged as these abilities and interests are highly valued and rewarded
  • w/c culture is devalued by school as inferior

Gewirtz: Differences in economic and cultural capital led to difference in how parents could exercise choice of secondary schools

  • Privileged-skilled choosers: m/c with cultural and exonomic capital
  • Disconnected-local choosers: w/c restricted by cultural or economic capital
  • Semi-skilled choosers: w/c and restricted by lack of E/C capital but ambitious for children
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Class (Internal) - Labelling & Self Fulfilling Pro


Becker: Ideal Pupil (students labelled according to how close they fit the image of the ideal pupil with m/c being closest to this idea

Rist: Home background influence labels (Appearance and info about home background used by teacher to group students)

Keddie: High/Low Status Knowledge&Pupils (higher streams given higher status knowledge)

Self-Fulfilling Prophecy

Rosenthal & Jacobson: SFP in practice (randomly labelled students and found that teachers used the labels for beliefs of children and conveyed these beliefs to the pupils through body language and attention and encouragement they gave them)

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Class (Internal) - Pupil Subcultures

Lacey: Polarisation and Differentiation to create subcultures

  • Polarisation: Respond to streaming by moving to two opposites (anti/pro)
  • Differentiation: Teachers categorising pupils on their percieved ability, attitude/behaviour Streaming is a form of differentiation

Hargreaves: Low stream boys = Triple Failures

  • Failed 11+
  • Low steam
  • Labelled as 'worthless louts'

Ball: Abolishing streaming led to less influence of anti-school subculture due to no polarisation

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Class (Internal) - Marketisation & Selection Polic

A-to-C Economy: System in which schools ration their time, money and resources, concentrating them on the students they feel could achieve 5 C's at GCSE and so boost the school's league table position

Gillborn & Youdell: Educational triage (process of sorting pupils into three groups and focusing attention on one of the groups as a way of boosting league table position

  • Those who will pass anyway
  • Hopeless cases
  • Those with potential to pass (focus on this group)

Bartlett: Marketisation leads to popular schools doing the following -

  • Cream-skimming: select high ability pupils who cost less to teach
  • Silt-shifting: Off load learning difficulties as they get poor results and are expensive to teach
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Ethnicity (External) - Cultural Deprivation

Bowker: Lack of Standard Engligh is a major barrier to success

Swann Report: Language is not a major factor in achievement                                           Gillborn & Mirza: Indians do well even though English is not often their home language     

Lack Of Motivation as major cause: Black Children socialised into fatalistic culture which doesn't value education and leaves them unequipped for success

Pryce: Asian more resistant to racism than Black, so do better

Driver & Ballard: Asian family structure has educational benefits - attitudes, aspirations, support

Khan: 'stress ridden' Asian families - more controlling

Driver: CD theory ignored the positive effects of ethnicity on education                                            Black family is far from dysfunctional and provides girls with positive role models of strong indepenent women - This is why black girls do better than black boys

Compensatoru Education (Sure Start): Based on assumption that underachievement is caused by cultural deprivation rather than other factors

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Ethnicity (External) - Material Deprivation

w/c are materially deprived

Flaherty: Pakistani & Bangladshi more likely to live in overcrowded houses with unemployed/low skilled jobs

Swann Report: social class accounts for over 50% of differences account for over 50% of diffeence in ethnic achievement

Gillborn & Mirza: social factors don't override ethnicity as pupils of the same class but different ethnicity achieve differently

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Ethnicity (External) - Racism In Wider Society

Rex: racial discrimination leads to exclusion and this leads to poverty of ethnic minorities and then to under achievement

Racial discrimination in Jobs & Housing


Social Exclusion


Unemployment/Low Pay/Inadequate Housing


Affects children's education

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Ethnicity (Internal) - Labelling & Teacher Racism

Black Pupils

Gillborn: quicker to discipline black students for same behaviours

Gillborn & Youdell: 'racialised expectations' (expect black to have bad behaviour / be challenging) Leads to:

  • Higher exclusion levels of black boys
  • Black pupils places in lower streams/sets


Asian Pupils

Wright: Asians stereotyped and treateed differently

  • Assumed poor grasp of English - spoken to simplisticly
  • mispronounced names
  • Saw them as problems that could be ignored
  • Couldn't participate = low self esteem & underachievement




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Class (Internal) - Rejecting Negative Labels

Fuller & Mac an Ghaill criticise labelling for being deterministic

Fuller: Black girls reject negative labels to become high achievers still choose not to conform to rules apart from those where actual schoolwork is concerned

Mac an Ghaill: Pupils who believed they were negatively labelled did not always accept it

Mirza: black girls strategies for dealing with teacher racism often restricted their opportunities to   achieve                                                                                                                                                                  e.g. not asking certain staff for help so having to struggle                            

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Ethnicity (Internal) - Pupil Subcultures

Labelling tends to lead to pupils joining certain subcultures

Sewell:  black boys have 4 different responses

  • Conformists: keen to succeed
  • Innovators: pro-education but anti-school
  • Retreatists: disconnected from school/external subcultures
  • Rebels: stereotype 'black macho lad'
    • small group but all sterotyped this way

Doesn't say why boys underachieve

O'Donnell & Sharpe: Similar response to rebels who despised conformists as 'weaklings'

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Ethnicity (Internal) - Institutional Racism

Ethnocentric Curriculum

Ball: National curriculum ignores cultural and ethnic diversity and promotes 'little Englandism'

David: 'specifically British' teachings of 'host comminity'

Other cultures are taught e.g. poetry/history

Governing Bodies

Hatcher: low priority given to race issues within schools, failure to deal with individual racism

Ranson: disproporionatley white governing body

Doesn't explain racism of whole governing body

Selection & Segregation

Gillborn: Marketisation has given schools greater scope to select pupils and stereotypes are therefore more influencing than ever

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Gender (External)

Changes by Feminists affect girls' self image and ambition with regard to family and careers.

Changes In The Family (Sharpe)

  • Increased number of lone parent women means women take on breadwinner role so girls will aim to become financially independent through high levels of qualifications
  • Increase in divorce rate means girls realise they are financially independent and can't rely on a husband

Changes In Women's Employment (Prosser)

  • Women are now in high level professional and managerial roles
  • Pay gap fallen from 30% to 17% since 1975

Girls' changing ambitions

Francis: girls she asked had aspirations for jobs and very few saw their future in a 'tradition female role' - this menas they require higher qualification to get their desired career

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Gender (Internal)

Equal Opportunities Policies

GIST & WISE - Kelly: Science as compulsory core curriculum for all pupils helps equalise opportunities

Positive Role Models In Schools

Women as teachers in a position of authority show girls they can achieve positions of importance and aime for non-traiditional jobs

Education becoming 'feminised' - virtually all-female staff

GCSE and Coursework

Mitsos & Browne: girls naturally better at coursework (more conscientious and better organised)

Coursework now scrapped in many subjects and it only has a small weighting in comparison to exams in the subject it is still in

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Gender (Internal)

Teacher attention and classroom interaction

Spender: Teachers spend more time interacting with boys than with girls

French & French:  Boys get more attention becuase of more reprimands

Francis:  Boys disciplined more harshly

Challengin stereotypes in the curriculum

Weiner: Since the 1980's teachers have challenged stereotypes and sexist images have been removed from learning materials - girls have more positive image of what they could do

Selection and league tables

Jackson: League tables improved the position for girls as high achieving girls are attractive to schools and low achieving boys aren't. The creates a self-fulfilling prophecy

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Gender (Views Of Girls' Achievement)

Liberal Feminists

Celebrate the progress made so far in improving girls' achievement

Further progress will be made by the continuing development of:

  • Equal opportunities policies
  • Encourage positive role models
  • Overcoming sexist attitudes and stereotypes

Radical Feminists

System remains patriarchal despite improvements in girls achievement

  • Higher positions of authority in school are more likely to become heads of secondary schools
  • Women are under-represented in many areas of the curriculum
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Gender (Views Of Boys' Achievement)

DCSF: gender gap is mainly the result of boys' poorer literacy and language skills - Affects many different subjects

Mitsos & Browne: Decline in traditional men's jobs led to 'identity crisis of men'

Sewell: Boys fall behind because education has become 'femised'

Male traits are not nurtured

 Epsen: w/c boys are likely to be harassed, labelled as sissies and subjected to homophobic very abuse if they appear as 'swots'

Shortage Of Male Primary School Teachers

Only made up 16% of primary school teachers in 2007 were men

  • Aproach is too simplistic
  • Francis: 2/3 of 7/8 year olds believed the gender of teachers doesn't matter
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Gender (Internal) - Subject Choice

Subject Choice

NC Options - Stables & Wikeley - where there is a choice in the NC boys and girls choose differently (within technology girls pick food, boys choose woodwork)

AS and A levels - Gendered subject choice more noticeable when students have greater freedom

Vocational courses - Similar but ever more exaggerated than the pattern for A levels

Explanations For Gender Differences In Subject Choice

  • Ann Oakley: Early Socialisation - learn what is expected of men and women in society
  • Murphy: Gender Domains (Boats, cars, houses)
  • Gendered Subject Images
  • Peer Pressure
  • Gendered Career Opportunities
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Gender (Internal) - Gender Identity

Connell - 'Hegemonic masculinity' dominance of heterosexual masculine identity and the subordination of female and gay identities

Verbal Abuse - A rich vocabulary of abuse

  • Lees: slags and drags
    • Male gaze: form of surveillance over girls, devaluing them
  • Male peer groups use verbal abuse to reinforce their definitions of masculinity (Peer Pressure)

Teachers & Disciplin

  • Mac an Ghaill -  boys told off for 'acting like girls'
  • Askew & Ross - Male teachers used to help females with discipline, gives image that women can't cope alone

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Role Of Education - Functionalists

Durkheim - Social Solidarity & Special Skillis

    • Trasmits society's shared culture
    • Teaches to follow universalistic groups
    • Shows pupils they have a shared past and a common purpose
    • Equips people with skills to participate in work in a modern economy

Parsons - Meritocracy + "bridge between family and wider society"

  • Everyone achieves status through their own effort with equal opportunity for all to achieve

Davis & Moore - Role Allocation

Sifts and sorts so the most talents fet the best qualification and most important jobs

Tumin: circular argument

Wrong: Functionalists have a over-socialised view of people as mere pupets of society

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Role Of Education - New Right

The state takes a ‘one size fits all’ approach, imposing uniformity and disregarding local needs

Similar to Functionalists:

  • Some people are naturally more talented than others (Durkheim)
  • Favour an education system run on meritocratic principles of open competition (Parsons)
  • Should serve the needs of the economy by preparing young people for work
  • Should socialise pupils into shared values (Durkheim)
  • However do not believe it is achieving these roles

Chubb & Moe - Consumer Choice 

  • State education has failed and they make a case for opening it up to market forces of supply and demand
  • Each family given a voucher to spend on buying education of their choice, forcing schools to become more responsive to parents' wishes
  • Low income pupils do 5% better in private schools

Getwirts & Ball - Competition benefits m/c because they can acces more desirable schools

Marxists - imposes culture of ruling class not shared national culture

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Role Of Education - Marxists

Althusser : Ideological State Apparatus

  • Control people's ideas, values and beliefs
  • Reproduction & legitimation of class inequality through failing each generation of w/c pupils and ensuring they have the same kinds of jobs as parents and ideologies disguise this

Bowles & Gintis - Correspondence Theory

  • Close link between social relationships in the class and those in the workplace
  • Hidden curriculum - hierarchy, competition etc.
  • Myth of meritocracy - legitimation of lass inequality
  • Assumes pupils passively accept these factors

Willis - Learning to labour

Studied 12 w/c boys in a year of schooling to see how schools prepared pupils for work. The lads formed a anti-school subculture and rejected most of the schools values. At end of schooling they got jobs in manual labour 

Willis romanticises the labs, presenting them as w/c heroes

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Educational Policy - Tripartite System

Tripartite System - 1944 Education Act

Shaped by the idea of meritocracy, all sat 11+ exam to decide the school they go to

  • Grammar Schools - those who passed the 11+ 
    • mainly m/c
    • Access to higher education and non manual jobs
  • Secondary Modern - those who failed the 11+ 
    • mainly w.c
    • non - academic curriculum
  • Technical Schools - only in a few areas of the country


Class - different schools = different opportunities

Gender - Girls need higher score to get in to grammar schools

Legitmated through ideology that ability in inborn

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Educational Policy - Comprehensive System

Comprehensive system - 1965 onwards

All pupils attend same school 

  • Continued to reproduce class inequality
    • Streaming - m/c = higher streams
    • Labelling - w/c labelled negatively
  • Legitmated through myth of meritocracy

Grammar - secondary modern divide still exists

  • Still 164 grammar schols in England
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Educational Policy - Marketisation & Parentocracy

Marketisation - 1988 Education Reform Act - The process of introducing market forces of consumer choice and competition between suppliers into areas run by the state

Thatcher introduced the principle of marketisation in education

New Right: favour marketisation as state control leads to low standards, inefficiency and lack of choice

David: describes the phase of parentocracy "rule by parents"

Policies that promote marketisation

  • Exam league table
  • Business sponsorship of school
  • Open enrolment
  • Formula funding
  • Able to opt out of LEA control
  • Compete to attract students
  • Proposed educational vouchers
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Educational Policy - Marketisation

Reproduction Of Inequality

 m/c parents are better placed to take adantage of available choices

Ball & Whitty: League tables and funding formula reproduce inequalities

  • league tables ensure schools with good result are in high demand
    • They can be more selective in choosing children
    • will choose high achieving m/c pupils
  • funding formula - funds based on the amount of pupils attracted
    • popular schools = more funds = better teachers and facilities
    • can attract even more high achieving students

Encourages diversity amongst schools

  • Gives parents more choice
  • Meet the needs of different pupils
    • Raises standards
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Educational Policy - Myth Of Parentocracy

Ball: marketisation fives appearance of parentocracy

  • Makes it appear that all parents have the same freedom to choose their child's school

Gerwitz: m/c parents have more economic and cultural capital so can better take advantage of the choices available

Leech & Campos: m/c can afford to move to catchment areas of more desirable schools

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Educational Policy - New Labour

  • Tried to reduce inequality, promote greater diversity, choice and competition in education.
  • Achieving these goals would also make Britain more competitive in the global economy by turing the nation into a high skill, high wage society.

Raise achievement and standards generally

  • Reduced primary school class sizes
  • Literacy & Numeracy hours

Policies targetting support of disadvantaged groups

  • EAZ's
  • Aim Higher
  • Raising school leaving age
  • EMA
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Educational Policy - New Labour

Promoting diversity and choice

  • 'one size fits all, mass production' idea scrapped by Tony Blair
  • New system built around the needs of children and parents
  • Many secondary schools encouraged to become specialist schools
  • Academies instead of traditional schools to raise achievement. 
    • However, achievement only better in some acadamies, not all

Postmodernism and New Labour

  • Labours policies promoting diversity and choice reflect that put forward by postmodernists 
    • schools should become customisable to fit the needs of the community
  • Use of the National Curriculum suggests that the 'one size fits all' ideology is still present in all schools and postmodernists ignore the continueing importance of inequality in education 
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Educational Policy - New Labour

Critisms of New Labour policies

  • Whitty - contradiction between New Labour's policies to tackle inequality and its commitment to marketisation
  • The continuing use of selective grammar schools and private schools as cosmetic policy
  • Although Labour have not allowed any new grammar schools, they have not demolished old ones.
  • Trowler - New Labour have reduced class inequality through more funding for state schools and by raising standards of all state schools in general
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