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  • Created on: 31-03-14 21:24

Education 1

The Marxist approach is crucial of the role of the education system in capitalist society. This approach sees the education system as benefiting privileged groups and reinforcing social inequalities over time.   UNFAIR

  • Serving the interests of the ruling class: By passing on ideas and beliefs that benefit the ruling class (e.g. that the capitalist society is fair and meritocratic) [ m/c do better]
  • Reproducing the class system: Education appears to reward pupils fairly based on their individual abilities. However, it actually favours pupils from more advantaged backgrounds. Over time, education reproduces the advantages that some social class groups have over others. [Unfair, private schools only afforded by m/c]
  • Breeding competition: Through sports and exams at school, students are encouraged to accept values such as competition. If most people value competition, this helps to maintain the capitalist system because it is based on competition.
  • Secondary socialization: The education system socializes working-class children to accept their lower position in capitalist society. They learn to accept hierarchy at school and to obey rules. 

1- structure is unfair, 2- private schools for wealthy, comprehensive for w/c,3- purpose is for m/c= good careers,4- w/c average careers

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Education 2

The Functionalist approach focuses on the positive functions that the education system performs in society. These include:

  • Serving the needs of the economy: Education has an economic role in teaching the knowledge and skills that future workers will need in a competitive global economy
  • Selection: The education system works like a sieve, grading people and allocating them to jobs based on their individual merit, abilities and exam results. Most able= best jobs.
  • Facilitating social mobility: The education system is expected to enable individuals to move up/down the social ladder. Meritocratic system, rewards skills & intelligence
  • Encouraging ‘Britishness’ and social cohesion: Schools help to reinforce the ‘glue’ or the social bonds that unite different people in society/ Political.
  • Secondary socialization: learning the culture, norms and values of their society
  • Social control: Schools teach pupils to conform and accept rules and adult authority
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Education 3

  • Official/Formal curriculum: The formal learning that takes place in schools according to timetables e.g. during history and science lessons. [National Curriculum]
  • Hidden curriculum: Things learnt in schools that are not formally taught such as valuing punctuality/obdedience/rules/dress code/routine/gender roles/achievement/competition/lack of satisfaction.
  • Lack of satisfaction: learn to cope with boredom by keeping your head down,don't bring attention to yourself, coping strategies for future workplace
  • Hierachy structure in school

Streaming: A form of teaching in which students are grouped according to their general ability and then taught in this group for all of their subjects [channelled]

+ extensions, pushed to work hard in top set

- unable to move streams, no motivation for lower streams, no recognition for talents in diff subjects, assumes youre brilliant/terrible in all subjects

Setting: When people are grouped depending on ability in different subjects

+ same ability groups                                      - distractions, no motivaiton

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Education 4

School factors that affect educational attainment:

  • Material Deprivation: school factors include how well-resourced the school is.
  • The school curriculum: can be seen as ethnocentric; biased towards white European cultures. Critics argue that African Caribbean cultures, histories and experiences should be included more in the curriculum.
  • Teacher expectations and labeling: + good role models.Some teachers may have lower expectations of students from w/c or E.M. Little attention given= demotivated students. Negative labeling of w/c or EM= SFP/ bullying
  • Selective education: A way of recruiting pupils to a school, based on a form of selection. 
  •  Institutional racism:can be seen in organizational attitudes or behavior that discriminates, even when individuals themselves act without intending this
  • Subcultures:  a group of students who develop a set of norms "school subculture"

- informal peer pressure may encourage anti-learning attitudes, working hard=uncool

School ethos refers to the character/culture of a school. Some schools have an academic ethos that promotes exam success and progression to higher education (e.g. selective schools)

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Education 5

Parental values and expectations

  • M/C Parents in professional occupations often have high expectations of their kids to do well at school.
  • Parents with high educational qualifications= more able to help with hwk/monitor progress
  • W/C= bad experiences in school?
  • Restricted code/slang socialisation= W/C
  • Elaborate code/ write in exam style= better speaking/writing abilities (norms)= M/C

Economic Circumstances

  • M/C more likely to have access to facilities to help them study at home 
  • E.M more likely than white British students to attend the most deprived schools [material deprivation]

Cultural Background/ Deprivation [cultural capital]

  • British Chinese value education (chinese culture)= pupils develop high educational ambitions + high self esteem from achievement.
  • M/C more likey to take kids to educational places (added benefit) e.g museum, gallery,park
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Education 6

Pros of state schools: free, not based on ability, socially mixed, allows social mobility, less travel distance, not elitest.

Private schools (Advantages):

  • Have an academic ethos and pupils tend to achieve exam results that are well above the national average
  • They offer good teaching and learning resources and small classes
  • They offer a wide range of extra-curricular activities
  •  There is a strong focus on careers guidance and progression to university


  • Private schools are selective and only admit pupils who pass an entrance exam and/or whose parents can afford the school fees
  •  They tend to recruit pupils from similar backgrounds and help to reproduce social inequality and class divisions
  • Put pupils under a lot of pressure to compete and to perform well academically
  • Many of the teachers in private schools have been trained at the state’s expense
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Education 7

Other forms of provisions

Vocational Learning - work related qualifications

+ Skills,expertise,engage a wider range of learners,competitive

- NVQs aren't seen as good (low-status) "academic failures"

Home Learning/schooling

+ specialised one-on-one learning, own pace, away from bullying

- no secondary socialisation, hard to adapt in the future

Alternative school

+ Individuality, self-discipline, democratic rights, make their own choices

- Less discipline, not preparing for future rules/work

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Education 8

Hidden Curriculum - set of unwritten rules outside curriculumn, e.g obidience/discipline, achieviement/competition part of hidden curriculumn, homeschooled may not be taught to cope with boredom= harder for future.

1944 Education Act (Butler Act): State funded education to improve society and economy

Tripartite system:

  • 3- Secondary technical schools - mechanics,engineering,scientific areas.
  • 2- Secondary modern schools, not suited to other two, comprehensive.
  • 1- Grammar schools- academic students

1965 Comprehensive Education: Abolished tripartitve system, all students attend locak schools, setting/streaming according to ability.

1979 New Vocationalism = increased skilled indivuals

1988 Education Reform Act: Marketisation of education (increased competition), parents given choice to compete, higher standard education, National Curriculum, OFSTED, Sats, League tables

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Education 9

1997 New Labour (Blair) Policies: expanded diversity of availablity of schools, specialist/trust/faith schools, excellence in cities, education action zones= address systematic unachievement, A levels split into AS/A2, EMA and OFSTED.

  • EMAs:  Education Maintenance Allowances were introduced so that students from low-income backgrounds could get financial help if they stayed on within higher education
  • Equal opportunities policies and anti-discrimination legislation: made it illegal for schools to discriminate on the basis of gender or ethnicity
  • The specialist schools programme: helped to tackle low achievement + raise standards
  • Schools’ admission policies:Some policies can work against students from disadvantaged backgrounds. E.g if school’s admissions policy gives it scope to select its intake, this can work against students from disadvantaged backgrounds

·         Marketisation, competition and league tables:

  • Emphasis on parental choice/competition between schools to raise standards have made life more difficult for some schools with high intake of w/c students.
  • National league tables=introduced to help raise standards in schools. Negative effects for low achievers from disadvantaged backgrounds if schools focus their resources on the better performers instead of them.
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Education 10

Pre 1870 - Position in society determined access to educaiton, church ran schools for the poor

1870 Education Act- basic education up to 11yrs old through govt tax

1944 Butler Act - UK more educated after WW1, equal chance to develop abilities

Primary up to 11 yrs old, Secondary 11-15, Further/Higher College/Uni

Impact of Tripartite system

  • Education based on ability to pay, 11+ Exam determines type of school
  • Secondary Modern (general education): 75%
  • Secondary Tech (practical education: 5%
  • Grammar (Academic): 20%

Comprehenshive system

  • 1965- Labour moved away from Tripartite system to Comprehensive system
  • All studensts regardless of ability, attended same type of school, by 1986 90% attended comprehensive
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Education 11

Issues with education system

Class: 11+ tests were biased (m/c)

Gender issues - girls matured earlier than boys= bad to get higher mark than boys for grammar schools

+ Breaks down social barriers between different social classes/mixes ethnic backgrounds

- Doesn't break down social barriers, depends where you live, different catchment areas, m/c better, w/c lower

Describe one reason why comprehensive education could have a negative effect on a child + explain why

1- doesn't break social barriers/ 2- comprehenisve supposed to break ethnic/social barriers

2- bad influences in certain areas

3- anti-social norms, 4- peer pressure, 5- harms/limits education

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Education 12

Ethnicity and achievement

  • Material deprivation: lack of money,overcrowded house, lower nurtrition, less books/computers, difficult to study at home, lack of attendance
  • Language: speak different languages at home, different standards of speech (restricted/elaborate code). Parents can't help with homework.
  • Parental attitude: some parents had bad experience = less co operation. Some parents very involved= better achievement.
  • Cultural deprivation: norms,values,expectations of w/c to m/c differ, lack of role models, different expectations, m/c have cultural capital.
  • Teacher-Pupil interactions: labelling different students from different backgrounds e.g "A IND quiet"/ judgement "B ACR troublemaker" = SFP, teachers are from different backgrounds.
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Education 13

Female achievement higher due to:

Feminist movement: motherhood no longer seen as main life aim,females gained confidence in their own ability, youngers' expectations increase, barriers being broken

Change in job oppurtunities: less gender stereotypical jobs, more feminine traits desired e.g communication, teamwork ect, Equal oppurtunities policies in 1980s

Laws: Sex Discrimination Act 1975 in education was illegal, Kelly 1981 science textbooks full of men doing experiments, now more female friendly. GIST, CC4G clubs

National Curriculum: more female teachers, study same core subjects,opened more doors for females in science

 why females/males pick different subjects?

  • Some seen as more male/female orientated
  • e.g Art/English= more creative + communucation in primary socialisation
  • Males geared towards science/engineering
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Education 14

Discuss how far sociologists would agree that a students gender is the most important influence on his or her educational achievement? (12)

Education affected by gender,ethnicity,social class,location and type of school.

Agree: girls labelled as hard-working and passive tempered to disruptive boys, mature earlier, feminism boosts achievement, legal changes e.g equal Sex Discrimination Act, Kelly 1981 says textbooks WERE male orientated, National curriculum opened doors into science.

Disagree: location of school (catchment area) e.g m/c > w/c school, school ethos, w/c less economic benefits,W/c suffer material deprivation, type of school e.g grammar> comprehensive, parent expectations depend on class/experience, language barriers (restricted code), Ethnicity e.g cultural deprivation.

Conclusion: Small extent is gender because there are many other factors that affect it.

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Education 15

Types of schools in UK

State-funded schools: funded by govt, accept all students regardless of ability,background,gender

  • + All students have equal access to some level of education
  • - Truanting students affect learning of others

Specialist Schools: recieve extra funding to support subject expertise, able to chose 10% of students based on ability, SEN schools

  • + Recieve special needs depending on what they needed
  • - Students treated as being different

Trust schools: supported by charity organisations/partners to work together to benefit school

  • + Sense of community/focus on specific things they need
  • - Can screen out students e.g SEN students
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Education 16

Faith Schools


  • Faith schools provide an education that complements the pupils’ religion
  •  Many faith schools have above average exam results
  • Parents may prefer the religious ethos and teaching in a faith school
  • Some supporters argue that faith schools produce individuals who have a strong sense of identity and self worth


  • Faith schools segregate/divide children from different religions and discourage mixing
  • They work against social cohesion
  • The intake of many faith schools is not representative of the local population
  • Some may discriminate in their employment or promotion of staff on religious grounds
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Education 17

City Academies: turns failing comprehensives to academies, gets money directly from central govt and can choose what they spend it on

  • + able to spend money on what they need
  • - pressure on students/teachers, no support from education department

City Technology Colleges: independent funded non-fee paying schools for 11-18 yr olds geared towards science,technology, vocational work

  • + prepared for work, more hands on
  • - not seen as higher valued than other schools

Grammar Schools: admitted based on ability

  • + expected to achieve high scores (pushed harder)
  • - disspointment in pupils if they don't do as well (pressure)
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Education 18

Independent Schools: set their own curriculum + admissions policies,funded by parents, income from investors, don't follow NC, still take recognised exams

  • + Run according to students needs
  • - Not everyone can afford them

Special SEN Schools:

  • + Can adapt according to SEN educational needs, specially trained teachers + equiptment 
  • - Students may be seen/treated differently, may not have access to range of curriculum like other mainstream schools.
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