Explaining social class differences in education and achievement



The working class consistently perform far worse in exams than the higher class pupils, this could be for many reasons as shown above

 Sociologists have identified 3 groups into which all these factors affecting education can be placed:

  1. Material Factors
  2. Cultural Factors
  3. Factors within school

Material Factors

Material factors explain how social and economic situations can affect a child’s development.

  • Douglas found that poor housing conditions (i.e not enough space) can lead to lower attainment
  • Poorer diet of working class families can lead to damaged cognitive development
  • Low income means books and resources can’t be brought
  • Difficult to be able to afford higher education (travel and fees) – especially with raised tuition fees and cuts to EMA
  • Poorer families might not be able to send child to pre-school which can help development and thus attainment
  • Pupils from poorer families are more likely to have part-time jobs as they can’t afford not too, this takes time away from studies
  • Many schools rely on donations from parents, if the school is in a less-affluent area they will receive less money and provide a worse education, affecting childs attainment

These factors will normally coincide with the others, leading to one, much greater, problem.

Cultural Factors

Cultural factors are things like values, attitudes, languages etc. If a child is in a social group deprived of these factors he could underachieve.

  • Douglas said the most important factor affecting a childs attainment was parental interest in the child’s educationThis is because if the parents lacks this they wouldn’t be…


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