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why do some students fail?

ethnicity and obtainment

  • ofsted - 2000 - all groups have improved their educational attainment. there are still significant difference in in the attainment of ethnic groups.
  • social class and english as a second language - contributes to this pattern.
  • cultural - family - some sociologists - cultural background of ethnic groups has influenced their educational attainment
  • sociologists - smith and tomlinson - 1989 - studied 2400 school students in multi-ethnic schools - found - what school a child goes to, makes more of a difference than which ethnic group they belong to.
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why do some students fail?

gender and ethnicity:

  • 1960s - focus - underachievement of girls
  • 1990s - focus - underachievement of boys
  • 1970-1997 - more boys than girls went on to higher education
  • since 1997 - girls have outnumbered boys
  • boys may be doing better, but girls improvement is better
  • only some boys are failing - mainly working class
  • some girls are also failing - from the same class
  • girls doing so well - change in attitude - less emphasis on early marriage, less sexist socialisation, more assertive/positive role models & changes in the adult world - increase in number of women in the labour market, deemed as OK to be a working mother, high divorce rate has made women wary of marriage, less dependent on men as they want to be financially independent & changes in school - more awareness of eliminating gender bias in schools in textbooks, equal opportunities, core subjects in national curriculum.
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why do some students fail?

  • why are some boys failing - changes in the job market - decline of male dominated manufacturing sector & rise in service jobs which were seen as feminine. changes in male role model - high divorce rates have challenged the traditional role of father, husband and breadwinner - many boys grew up without a male figure. attitudes in school - often given a negative label particularly with behaviour and teachers begin to expect less and focus on the girls, school is used to gain the masculine identity - aggressive behaviour - reject the idea of work as it is 'feminine', anit-school subcultures contribute to educational failure.
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in the school

school - hidden curriculum, pupil subcultures, organisation of teaching, teachers expectations.

the hidden curriculum: langham 2000 - women remain in particular subject areas and in the lower ranks, when promoted they fill in pastoral roles - like a head of year and deal with the students' problems.

formal curriculum - knowledge and skills that students are expected to gain - laid down in official publications

the unofficial messages that schools can transmit to students through norms and values that are part of routines and procedures in the school - often unwritten and unstated.

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in the school

theorists viewpoints:

  • functionalist - not concerned with the hidden curriculum, it transmits the core values of society just like the formal curriculum does.
  • marxist - part of the process of reproducing an obedient workforce for capatalist society - a deliberate part of ideological control.
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in the school

student subcultures: a group that has a distinctive set of norms and values within the school. types of subculture - middle class/working class, male/female, ethnic.

colin lacey - 1970 - study of achieving middle class boys in a grammar school - the teachers favourites, in the 1st year they were all eager and hard working, second year - one class was seen by teachers as hard to teach.

  • differentiation - process by teachers judging and ranking students into successful/unsuccessful - positive/negative labels.
  • polarisation - a gap then opened up, successful and unsuccessful - subcultures formed.
  • subculture of success - accepted the value system of school, worked hard, behaved well, got praise and rewards, peer group shared and reinforced values.
  • subculture of failure - worked against the schools value system, did not work/behave, criticised, developed alternative value system to gain status, peer group became a subculture.
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in the school

Lacey's conclusion - student subcultures develop as a response to the way that students are perceived and treated by teachers, the negative labelling produces a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Mac and Haill - 1994 - looked at working class males in a midlands comprehensive. identified 3 groups - macho lads, academic achievers, new enterprisers.

subcultures shaped -

  • the way that students were organised into sets
  • type of curriculum they followed
  • relationship between students and teachers
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in the school

female subculture: scott davies - 1995 - researching in canada - girls less aggressive or confrontational. express their opposition to school by an exaggerated feminity.

john abrahams - 1995 - studied an english comprehensive - found a different strategy of resistance. girls would push the rules to the limit and then respond to discipline by suggesting that it was preventing them from getting on with their work

afro-caribbean subculture: tony sewell - 1997 - sociologists tend to focus on this subculture, which has led to stereotyping. in a boys school he noticed 4 responses to education from a-c boys - conformists, innovators, retreatists, rebels.

  • conformists - 41%, accepted the value of education - they worked well.
  • innovators - 35% accepted the value of education but rejected the schooling process - anti school but not troublemakers
  • retreatists - 6% - loners who caused no problems - often had learning problems
  • rebels - 18% - rejected school - aggressive - drew on black street culture - saw school as a part of a white racist society
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