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  • Created on: 16-03-14 08:06

Class and Educational achievment: Statistics

Working class students are underachieving and doing LESS WELL than middle class students.

For example, less than 40% of students from working-class backgrounds managed to achieve five or more GCSE grades at A*-C, whereas more than 65% of children from middle classes achieved this level. This represents a gap of 24 percentage points

This is is because working class are materially, culturally deprived and are treated differently in school.

However, some policies have helped the working class achieve better results and avoid them being materially deprived, therfore NOT all working class students underachieve.

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External Factors: Materially Deprived

  • Smith and Bond: They identity a number of reasons how having more money can BENEFIT the middle class. They can afford: private tutors, educational toys and resources, school trips, computer fascilities, textbooks, music lessons, equipment, etc.
    All of these can AID the middle class students to do better at school.
    Smith and Noble argue that there are BARRIERS of having less money which disadvantages the poor and deprived students
  • Reay et al: Having less money also negatively disadvantages the working-class students.
    He claimed that they are more likely to apply to LOCAL schools and universities because they cannot afford travelling so prefer it to be close. However, middle class save up and travel to a better, more prestigious school- get a better education, qualifications, better job
    He also claimed that working class are more likely to have a PART-TIME job to save up money. This can distract them from their education- causing them to do less well. 
  • Howard: He argued that the w/c have poorer housing (damp conditions, noisy, crowded, etc) this distracts them from work.
    Also, they are less likely to afford a balanced, nutritious diet so poor diet means they are likely to be ill and hyperactive-  miss school more and important work- underachieve
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External Factors: Culturally deprived

However, NOT ALL working-class students underachieve because there are some policies that have been introduced which have helped materially deprived students overcome their problems and achieve better results. I.e. Sure Start- made sure parents were adviced on ways to help deprived children; Education Maintanance Policy- deprived students were given up to £30 a week to fund their studies and afford books, etc

Culturally Deprived

  • Douglas: Parents attitudes towards education
    He followed the lives of over 5000 children through the education system.
    He found that w/c parents cared less about the educational progress of their children because they were less likely to attend PARENT EVENINGS. They did not spend much time with their children and did not encourage them as much as m/c parents did to go to university
    Douglas also found that w/c parents gave their children LESS ATTENTION and STIMULATION during their early years. Shows that DIFFERENCES IN PRIMARY SOCIALIZATION between m/c and w/c children explains why w/c fail 
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Cultural factors

Evalutation of Douglas However, Blackstone and Mortimore argued that just because working class parents were less likely to attend parent evenings of their children does NOT MEAN they care less about them. The reason why they may not have attended:

  • feel uncomfortable mixing with middle-class teachers
  • cannot afford travelling to the school
  • may be working  long hours to save money
  • Language Codes: Bernstein argued that working class students are culturally deprived because they have grown up with the RESTRICTED LANGUAGE CODE (use poor sentenses, poor grammar, unfinished and simple sentences, no use of wide range of vocal, etc). This means they do less well at writing essays and are prepared for UNSKILLED LABOUR WORK
    On the other hand, middle-class student have grown up with ELABORATIVE CODE(i.e. well written, detail, range of vocal, complex sentenses). Prepared for high end job i.e. office work

AO2: However, others argue that its NOT the working-class fault that they are culturally deprived and it is the schools fault for failing to teach them how to use the elaborative code.

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Culturally Deprived

  • Cultural Capital: Ball et all argued that working class parents lack the cultural capital to prepare their children to do well at school. They are 'DISCONNECTED CHOOSERS' where they lack the money, social contacts and cultural capital to find the best schools for their children.
    Middle-class parents are SKILLED CHOOSERS where they find the best schools for their children so they end up gaining more qualifications and get a better job than w/c 

Evaluation of Cultural Deprivation

Keddie argues that the cultural deprivation theory is 'victim-blaming'. He argues that working-class students are NOT culturally deprived but culturally DIFFERENT.
The reason why they are underachieving is because schools are a middle-class insitituion that aim to deprive the working-class from achieving and from opportunities.

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Interal Factors of why working class underachieve

  • Curriculum: subjects that are taught in school may benefit the ruling class more than the working class. For example in HISTORY, students are taught about the ruling class, kings, qeens and politicians. The working class may underachieve because they feel that they cannot relate this to their own CULTURAL EXPERIENCE- they are less interested
  • Labelling: According to interactionists, teachers label students based on their appearance, personality, social class, how they behave, etc
    Becker et al
    argued that working-class students are NEGATIVELY LABELLED as deviant, lazy and were seen as furthest away from what an IDEAL students should be like. On the other hand, the teachers POSITIVELY LABELLED the middle-class students as ideal because they were hard-working, self-disciplined and well focused. = self-fulfilling prophecies; w/c accepted their negative label so had low esteem- underachieved
  • Streaming and Setting: Since the w/c were negativelly labelled, they were placed in lower streams and sets. Mac and Ghaill claimed that they formed ANTI-SCHOOL SUBCULTRES; did not recieve status in school so deviant subcultre gave them status- misbehave, underachieve
    AO2: NOT ALL w/c neg.labelled underachieve- OVER DETERMINISTIC. Fuller
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Conclusion of social class essay

However, it is important to consider other non-class variables that can also impact achievement levels....

  • Gender: Sharp argued that girls were usually better at school than boys because they were more likely to be motivated to do well, spend more time on assignments, etc
  • Ethnicity: There is evidence to show that African-Caribbeans are more likely to underachieve than any other ethnic group of students becuase they were materially deprived and more likely to be living with single parent. They did less well whereas Indians and Asian students did very well at school

This shows that other non class variables can also shape acheivement and class is NOT the only important factor that affects educational achievement

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