Class differences in achievement External

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  • Created on: 02-03-19 10:59

Class Differences in achievement

Social class background has a massive influence over a child’s success within the education system, with middle-class families performing better - on average - doing better at GCSE and are more likely to go to University.

  • M/C families can send children to private school, with a higher standard of education - while only 7% of British children go, half go to elite Universities (2011).

  • Sutton Trust - In 2011, Eton sent 211 students to Oxbridge, when 1300 state schools sent none.

  • Most sociological studies focus on class differences within the state system - looking at Internal (within school) and External factors (influence of home and wider society).

External factors

Differences appear very early on, Centre for Longitudinal Studies - saw w/c students were already one year behind at the age of three - Arguably the result of cultural deprivation. While many acquire the basic skills for educational success during primary socialisation, many w/c families fail to provide this - they grow up culturally deprived and underachieve.

  • Language - essential part of education, parents communication affects a child’s cognitive development. Hubbs et al - This improves when parents use challenging language assessing their abilities, educated parents more likely to do this (Fernstein).

  • Less educated parents use less elaborate language = lower performance. Educated parents use praise to help develop a child’s own sense of competence.

  • Bereiter and Engelmen - Language in lower-class homes is deficient, gestures etc - children fail to develop language skills or abstract thinking, unable to communicate how they feel - failing to take full advantage of school opportunities.

  • Speech codes - Bernstein - Restricted code is typically used by w/c, limited vocabulary, grammatically simple sentences - descriptive not analytical. Context-bound - speaker assumes listener shares experiences. E.g ‘he kicks it and it goes through there it breaks the window’

  • Elaborate code used by middle class with wider vocabulary, complex sentences and more varied. Context-free - doesn’t assume shared experiences so uses explicit meanings and complex language. E.g. ‘one boy kicks the ball and it goes through the window’.

  • Codes give m/c children and advantage as elab. code is used by teachers and in exams and is seen as the ‘correct way to speak and write - also providing children will essential analytical skills to excel in school. M/C are fluent uses of the code, meaning w/c students may feel excluded and less successful.

  • Parents education - Douglas- found w/c parents placed less value on education, giving less encouragement and less likely to discuss progress = lower motivation in the child. Feonstein argues this affects children due to what they can give their them.

  • Educated parent’s parenting style emphasises discipline and high expectations, encouraging active learning, while less educated style is harsh and inconsistent discipline, preventing independence and poorer motivation for child.

  • Educated parents are more likely to know what their child needs in order to succeed and recognises the value of museums etc, as well as forming a relationship with…


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