- Material deprivation is the idea that a lack of money leads to disadvantages such as an unhealthy diet and unsatisfactory housing.
- Certain groups have less money than others, which means they cannot make the most of their educational opportunities.
- Poverty can result in working class children living in damp homes, making them more prone to infections and illness, which results in them missing school days.
- Older working class children are more likely to work part time to support their studies or have to care for younger siblings, which affects their attendance at school, whereas middle class parents can more easily afford to pay for childcare.
Study of Smith & Noble
Smith and Noble (1995) studied the effects of poverty on schooling. They found that low income families faced many ‘barriers to learning’ including:
- Families cannot afford school uniforms, school trips, equipment, school textbooks etc. which can lead to children being isolated and bullied, and as a result they may fall behind in their school work.
- Low income reduces the likelihood of a student having a computer with internet access, a desk, books and space to do homework.
- Material deprivation can also affect the university choices of students. Raey et al (2005) found that many working class students applied for the nearest university because they could not afford the travel and/or accommodation away from home. Only 32% of working class students in the study were considering moving out of the family home to attend university, compared to over 70% of middle class students.
The government has attempted to reduce the material disadvantages faced by working class pupils through positive discrimination (treating certain groups ore favourable than others to help overcome disadvantages). The government have done this through introducing compensatory education) making more resources available in schools in poorer areas- to compensate for deprivation), examples of Labour policies include:
Education Action Zones introduced in the late 1990. It aimed to raise standards by compensating for deprivation. Extra funding for schools in deprived areas.
Excellence in Cities aimed to improve the education of children in inner-cities through a number of measures such as better resources, learning mentors for students who have a high possibility of being excluded and resources for Gifted and Talented pupils.
Criticisms of Compensatory Education
- Journalist, Melanie Phillips, argues that working class educational underachievement is a result of teachers being too willing to blame poverty for underachievement when the real reason is poor parenting and poor teaching. She also argues that the ‘socially excluded’ pupils are not simply poor, but they come from families who have attitudes and values which are anti-education and a state system that encourages welfare dependency and undermines individual responsibility.
- New Right, Murray, argues that the increase in children’s rights has led to parents taking less responsibility for the parenting process and pupils taking less responsibility for them, furthering educational underachievement.