Social class differences in educational achievement


Social class differences in educational achievemen

The most powerful influence on achievement is social class. Within school, working class children are disadvantaged in comparison to the middle class due to in school - such as setting and labelling - and out of school factors such as money problems.

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W/C Material Deprivation

Pupils’ education can suffer from material deprivation due to being unable to pay for the essentials such as uniforms, books, pens, trips, transport, internet access, toys or space to study.

Not having these basic things means they are less able to complete work to a full standard, get into the higher achieving schools, revise well and this shows on their results.

Likely to go to unpopular schools in poor areas - schools unable to teach these already struggling children to the standard needed for them to succeed and go on to better things.

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W/C Material Deprivation

Reay found working class children are more likely to go to a local university, even if it is known to not do well, possibly because they are unable to afford the costs of living in different accommodation, travel expenses on top of their tuition fees.

This may restrict them as to what courses are available at their local university, meaning they may not necessarily be reaching their full potential.

In the working class, 32% move away from home to go to university, whereas in the middle class, 70% move away from home, showing how many more working class children suffer educationally from their lack of money.

W/C tend to do a lot of working hours alongside their degrees.

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W/C Cultural Deprivation

Teachers are middle class and write exam papers using their expectations and middle class knowledge therefore working class children find them difficult.

W/C - different grammar, vocabulary and accent.

Marxist - Society is created to benefit the M/C as they have a greater cultural capital.

M/C believe working hard will mean success, W/C believe they cannot succeed no matter how hard they try.

Neo-Marxists would say m/c knowledge, values and language give m/c children an advantage.

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Reay found it was mothers who make cultural capital work for their children.

M/C mothers tend to have qualifications, knowledge of education and educational system and therefore are able to help their children with homework, teachers, and pay tutors.

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In-school factors - Labeling

A major identifying characteristic which can be negative or positive.

Labels are very powerful and can lead to self-fulfilling prophecy.

Teachers may accidentally use more negative labels with working class students as they are not used to their w/c values and norms.

This may cause a self-fulfilling prophecy and the child will simply begin to act like what they have been labeled as because they find it too hard to be seen as anything but that.

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Rosenburg tested a whole year at a school and told the students, teachers and parents that using the test he was going to would pick out the students who where about to do very well educationally. He picked names at random and told them they are about to do very well.

Although he chose the students completely at random, he retested the year group and found the students he told were going to do well did indeed do well.

This was because the teachers and parents treated the child differently because they were told the student was going to do well, so paid particular attention to them. This proves the self-fulfilling prophecy to work and shows if all teachers paid attention to the children that were struggling as opposed to giving up on them, they would improve greatly.

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Setting and Streaming

Setting is sorting student by subject into their ability, which is a more flexible and accurate way of sorting students in school.

Streaming is sorting them into groups in a non-flexible fashion, meaning you are in the same level of ability for all subjects.

More working class children are in the lower sets and streams.

Gillburn and Youdall found that teachers were more likely to assume that middle class students are able and should be entered for the higher tier exams - working class children are less encouraged to push themselves in school.

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