role of education

the role of education

education involves building up knowledge and learning new skills. It can take place formally and informally.

Formal education: takes place in the educational insitutions such as schools and universitied where people learn knowledge and skills across a wide range of subjects.

Informal education: takes place when people develop knowledge and skills by observing what is happening arounf them in everday life

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functionalist views on formal education

- serving the needs of the economy: education provides knowledge and skills that workers will need in the world of work.

- selection: education system sieves out people based of their ability and allocates jobs based on their individual exam result, ability and merit.

-secondary socialization: through school, pupils learn the culture, norms and values of their society

-social control: school teachers pupils to conform and accept adult authority

-facilating social mobility: education system enables pupils to move up or down the social ladder

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marxist view on formal education

-serving the needs of the working class: passes on ideas or beliefs than benefit the ruling class

eg. capitalist society is fair and meritocratic

-reproducing the class system: education awards pupils based on their ability however it favours pupils from more advantage backgrounds

- secondary socialastion: education system forces working class children to accept their position in capitalist society

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faith schools


  • provide 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


  • faith schools segregate children from different religion and discourage mixing
  • they work against social cohesion
  • the intake of many faith schools is not representative of the local population
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private schools


  • there exam results are well above the national average
  • they offer good teaching and learning rescources and have smaller classes
  • there is a strong focus on progressing to university


  • private schools are selective and are only available to the rich
  • many of private school teachers have been trained at the state's expense
  • they tend to recruit pupils from a similar background and help reproduce social inequaility and class divisions
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patterns of educational achievement

- students from middle class backgrounds tend to achieve better results in public examinations from those who are froma working class background

- students from ethnic minorities such as chinese,indian and irish heritage students tend to preform better than others such as african,carribean ans pakistani within education

- during 70's and 80's subject choice was genered with girls and boys tending to specialize in different subjects in secondary school. 

-in early 200's the gender gap began to close and girls started doing better at GSCE'S and A-levels than boys.

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influences of educational achievement- home factor

parental values and expectations: parents in professional occupations often have higher expectations of their kids and expect them to do well at school.

-they are more likely than other parents to monitor their children's school preformance

economic circumstances: students from well off background are mire likely to have access to facilities to help them study at home

- some students from minority ethnic groups are more likely than whire british students to attend the most deprives schools

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influences of educational achievement- school fact

school cirriculum: can be seen as being biased towards white european cultures. critics argue that african carribean cultures, histories should be included in the cirriculum

teachers expectations and labelling: some teachers have lower expectations of students from working class minority ethnic backgrounds

-this may affect how much attention such teachers give to these students during lessons and they may become demotivates

- negative labeling of working-class or ethnic minority background students can lead to a self fulfilling prophecy this means students preform as badly or well as their teachers expect them to

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female education since the 1980's

equal opportunities policies in education

- during the 1980's many schools developed equal opportunities policies to try address gender inequalities and discrimination in schools. this raised awarness of gender issues in education

anti discrimination law

- legislations such as the sex discrimination act 1975 mean that school could no longer discriminate on the basis of gender. eg. practices such as lining up girls and boys seperately were phased out.

impact of feminism

-attitudes to gender roles generally and to girls' education in particular have changed. Girls are no longer expected to see marriage and motherhood as their main goal in life

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