Topic 7: Material factors as a cause of under-attainment

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  • Created by: zoolouise
  • Created on: 19-05-16 18:31

Leonard Feinstein

In 2003, Feinstein analysed data from the 1970 Birth Cohort Study. He found test scores at 22 months predicted educational attainment at 26 years and were related to family backgrounds. Children from poorer backgrounds who achieved well at 22 months were often overtaken by the poor attainers from wealthy background.

Which children experience material deprivation?

  • Family debt
  • Children in former industrial areas such as the South Wales valleys
  • Poor levels of parental education and skills
  • Family breakdown and instability
  • Large families and many children
  • Those living in London and the South of England
  • Workless households
  • Children from lone parent families
  • Children from benefit-dependent families such as the disabled
  • Some ethnic minorities
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Poverty and policy

Government data shows there's a clear link between childhood poverty and adult poverty. People find it difficult to escape from the effects of poverty in their childhood home lives. The link between educational qualifications and high earning potential is unarguable. Some people undoubtedly do well, despiste the lack of formal education. The largest simple predictor of adult poverty is the educational qualification level of the father. The ONS suggests children have a 7.5 higher chance of poor educational attainment if their fathers also did badly in school. The best route out of poverty is through education and so governments have seen the issue of tackling child pvoerty and improving education as being priorities for the country.

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Environmental factors and low educational attainme

The New Right would argue that the key issue affecting low school attainment is lone parenting. Other sociological perspectives would say the issue is linked to poverty and material deprivation based on the evidence of a range of studies.

  • Parental qualifactions may impact on children in a number of ways. These can limit children's ambitions and encourage them to leave school 
  • Housing stock in many cities is poor, children experience poor health as a result.
  • Poor health behaviours such as smoking in front of children or lack of excerise may be typical of poorer parents.
  • Poor nutrition may also contribute to lack of attainment in school. There's a link between obesity and poverty, this suggests poor nutritional practice and bad diet.
  • There's a known relationship between the number of people living in a household, the economic position of the parents and the financial situation of the family. Lone parents tend to be poor as much housing is expensive and easier to maintain in dual income families.
  • Recent research into child poverty and education by Goodman and Gregg suggests poorer families tend to have weak learning environments, there's little reading matter and few computers available.
  • There's evidence that the poor are vulnerable to bullying from their peers. This is due to their poor qualitity of clothing and lack of fashion.
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