Class Difference in Educational Achievement – External

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Cultural Deprivation:

          Having a lack of basic values, attitudes and skills needed for a successful education.

          According to theorists, many of the children that are culturally deprived are from working class backgrounds. This is due to the lack of educational equipment that they have, due to lack of money.

Intellectual Deprivation:

          This refers to the development of thinking and reasoning skills, such as problem solving.

          Many theorists say that working class homes don’t have enough educational books, toys etc that stimulate the child’s mind. They argue that by not having such educational resources, stop the child from developing intellectually. This then means that the child lacks what other children don’t have.

Douglas 1964

·         Working class pupils scored lower on ability tests

·         This is because working class parents are less likely to support their children’s intellectual needs

·         E.g. Development through reading or other educational activities

Bernstein and Young 1967

·         Middle class mothers are more likely to buy toys that encourage thinking and reasoning skills to prepare children for school


Bereiter and Engelmann 1967

·         Claimed that language used in working class homes is deficient: use disjointed, single words and gestures.

·         As a result children fail to develop the necessary language skills for school, which means they can’t understand or produce ‘exam level language’

·         They also are unlikely to take advantage opportunities that school offers.

Bernstein 1975

·         Found that the difference in the more developed, middle class language and the underdeveloped, working class language affected the child’s achievement

·         Restricted Code- Often used by the working class. Has limited vocabulary and is often grammatically simple. Speech is predictable and often only uses single words or even expressions (gestures or on face). It is descriptive not analytical. Often the speaker believes that the person they are speaking to have the same experiences as themselves.

·         Elaborated Code – Often used by the middle class. Uses a wider range of vocabulary and is based on longer, more complex sentences. Speech is varied and can be imaginative. The speaker does not necessarily believe that the listener has had the same experiences as themselves.

·         Many schools use the elaborated code because it is what is used in the majority of exams.

·         This then puts the working class children at a disadvantage

·         Early socialisation of the elaborate code means that the child is developed enough when they start school as they have been brought up using this language

·         Working class children would have to learn the elaborate code as they have been used to communicating in the restricted code for most of their lives.

Attitudes and Values:

·         Many theorists argue that a parent’s attitude is vital in their child’s educational development

Douglas 1964

·         Found that working class parents don’t place as much value on education as middle class parents.


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