processes within schools

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  • Created by: Tom
  • Created on: 11-04-14 13:47

the organisation of teaching and learning

  • banding, streaming, setting, may be influenced by teacher labelling

David Hargreaves(1967)

  • in secondary modern, boys assigned to A or B streams more on behaviour than ability
  • pupil behaviour and attitudes became polarised
  • lower stream students virtually doomed to failure, creating subcultures etc
  • A stream students felt valued & were more succesful

Nell Keddie(1973)

  • studied variations in curriculum offered to students in different groups
  • In humanities - lower sets mainly w/c given easy work. Higher sets given harder work that helped them pass exams.

Stephen Ball

  • Beachside comprehensive
  • school bands based primarily on primary school reports - bands reflected pupils' social origins
  • Enthusiasm in band 2 evaporated and led to truancy and form of subcultures
  • Band 1 students remained good
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the organisation of teaching and learning


  • today teachers more determined to achieve from lower bands
  • research subjective and although Ball used positivist methods - attendance figures + tick charts - still difficulty to exclude all variables
  • Band 2 students may have worse health as they were w/c
  • anti school attitudes may have developed at home, not as response to banding
  • primary teachers' reports may have been based on genuinely low achievement as result anti-school attitudes at early age
  • Peter Woods(1971) - can be used as critique of Hargreaves, Keddie and Ball - he identifies much broader range of pupil behaviour in response to streaming. Found 3 main types of student - Conformists: teachers pet/genuinely keen students, Ritualists: not interested but lack energy to misbehave, Deviant: confrontational/gossipers
  • Woods found many students worked better with firmer teachers - but same students may rebel in other classes
  • shows too simplistic to suggest that streaming polarises students into ideal pupils and rebels
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pupil subcultures

  • some subcultures formed as response to teacher labelling and group allocation, others formed as members share common values/experiences in wide society
  • Paul Willis(Learning to Labour 1997) - w/c lads parents' had little respect for school and expected lads to follow them in to factory work. Attitudes prevailed regardless of efforts by teachers to raise aspirations
  • Tony Sewell(1997) - some afro caribbean students rebelled, even though they wanted to succeed, as they saw odds stacked against them
  • others were torn between pro-school parents and macho subcultures that viewed school as feminised
  • Sewell also observed some teachers eager to blame black subcultures as reason for failure, ignoring how school may intervene
  • Mac an Ghaill(1994) - observed a range of male subcultures: Macho lads, pro-school, new enterprise students(Keen business and ICT), academic achievers(white/asian from skilled manual background), real Englishmen(proffesional backgrounds), gay students, 'the posse' - w/c white+black girls who disrupted lower streams
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pupil subcultures


  • impossible to sell which subcultures would exist if schools treated students entirely fairly
  • John Abraham(1995) - evidence that streaming, labelling and formation of subcultures are interconnected and have significant effect on school progress
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the hidden curriculum

  • refer to Bowles and Gintis*
  • teaching materials ignored girls and non/European subcultures or stereotyped them
  • negative effect on self esteem and ambitions
  • recently been an effort to produce more balanced materials + ensure official curriculum is more multicultural and both sexes are encouraged to choose from whole range of subjects
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teacher/pupil relationships

  • interactionists conclude some teachers stereotype or label students based on class, gender, ethnicity etc. all unrelated to intelligience - leads to innapropriate ability groups and self fulfilling prophecy

Rosenthal and Jacobson

  • gave IQ tests to children in several classes - told teachers which students 'supposedly' achieved highest. Tested same students 1 year later saw huge increase - shows teachers gave more attention to said pupils - gave more challenging work increased self confidence and motivation(Pygmalion in the classroom, 1968)


  • observed labelling in action by kindergarten teacher in the U.S
  • assigned new students to 'slow' and 'fast' reading sets based on cleanliness, accent, percieved class of parents.
  • gave more attention to fast readers - led to self fulfilling prophecy - confirmed teachers assumptions
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teacher/pupil relationships

Cicourel and Kitsuse(1971)

  • studied American career advisors who directed students towards courses and careers influence by social class, demeanour, speech, and class reports
  • students with equal grades assigned to courses of different levels because of labelling

Evaluation of labelling theory

  • labelling too deterministic - students can reject labels if determined to do so. Parental support influencial factor.
  • Teachers in Britain under pressure to recieve best results from all students, less likely to reject minorities
  • sociological studies featured in teacher training
  • David Gillborn(1990) - well meaning teachers unknowingly hold expectations of certain ethnic groups that can lead to unfair treatment.
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