Social Class and Achievement

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Trends in Class and Achievement

- Children coming from working class backgrounds underachieve compared to that of middle class backgrounds. Research shows that this gap continues to expand from the age of seven, and is at its widest at the age of 33. Jeffries' study showed that by the age of 7, the working class children had fallen behind in many ability tests such as reading and writing.

-In 2003 the National Children's Bureau noted that children from poor backgrounds were two thirds less likely to gain at least 5 GCSE's  A* - C than those from affluent backgrounds.

- Connor and Dewson found that one in five young people from lower social glass groups go on to higher education. 

Out of School Factors

1. Cultural Deprivation (differences in norms and values at home e.g. attitudes to schooling, speech patterns etc)

2. Material Deprivation (physical necessities of life) 

3. Cultural Capital (values and attitudes needed to be successful at school) 

Cultural Deprivation Theories

- Studies have shown that the values, attitudes and aspirations of parents have an important effect on their children's education. It's argued that working class parents tend to value education less than middle class parents and this has a negative effect in terms of performance. 

- Leon Feinstein: The main reason for working class underachievement was due to their parents lack of interest. Working class parents are less likely to give their children educational toys and activities that will stimulate their thinking skills and are less likely to read to them. This affects their intellectual development and thus puts them at a disadvantage at school.

- Basil Bernstein: Elaborate and restricted speech code. Working class children tend to use restricted code which is more descriptive and less analytical; it also assumes that the listener knows what they are talking about so doesn't spell out. Middle class use elaborate code which is more analytic and spells out exactly what they mean. The elaborate code is the one used in schools, so gives the middle class children an advantage. 

Criticisms of Cultural Deprivation

- Nell Keddie sees it as a myth and sees it as a victim blaming explanation. She argues that working class children are culturally different, not culturally deprived. They fail because they are disadvantaged by the the education system as it is dominated by middle class values.

Material Deprivation Factors

- This is the lack of physical resources such as money, room, equipment etc. 

- Smith and Noble point out the importance of material factors, e.g. having more money allows parents to provide educational toys, books, and healthy diet more space in the home to do homework and greater opportunities for travel and private tuition. 

- Research done by Warwick University found that many students face selection or admission by mortgage which is where middle class students move in order to be in the catchment areas for the best schools which leaves less successful schools full of working class students.

- Gerwitz found that economic and…


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