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Differential Educational Achievement. Inequality In Education In looking at inequality in education and why some groups achieve more than others, sociologists look at what is going on inside schools as well as outside. Differential Educational Achievement. In-school factors

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Differential Educational Achievement

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Differential Educational Achievement

Inequality In Education

  • In looking at inequality in education and why some groups achieve more than others, sociologists look at what is going on inside schools as well as outside.


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Differential Educational Achievement

In-school factors

  • Included in this are such things as

  • Type of school – is it a grammar school or comprehensive

  • Structure of the school – how is it organised, does it have bands or sets etc

  • School staff – What is the ethnic/gender/class make up of the teachers in relation to the students.

  • Funding – is it LEA (Local education Authority) funded or is it a foundation school with responsibility for its own budget?

  • Entry requirements – Does the school recruit via an exam (11+), does it set down requirements for religious belief (religious schools) etc

  • Labelling – How are students labelled by teachers, by the type of school, by banding etc and does a self fulfilling prophecy develop?


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Differential Educational Achievement

  • Out-Of-School Factors

  • Included here are:

  • Environment – What is the social make up of the area in which the school stands, mainly middle class, mainly working class, inner city, rural etc

  • Parental Interest – Are parents positive about school and support their children with homework, encouragement, attending parents evenings etc.

  • Language – Both ethnic language differences and class differences.

  • Cultural Capital – Do parents possess the knowledge, the confidence and perseverance to tackle the education system and do they pass this on to their children?

  • Positional Theory – Do the children and parents have the right kinds of links/contacts to do well in education?


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Differential Educational Achievement1.Class

  • In general working class children do not do as well at school as middle class children.

  • Middle class children do better in all exams

  • Middle class children stay on longer at school

  • Middle class children are disproportionately represented in higher bands, higher sets, grammar schools etc.

  • Why this pattern occurs has long interested sociologists.


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Differential Educational Achievement1.Class

Inside Schools

Rosenthal & Jacobson 1968

  • Although 40 years old this study by Rosenthal and Jacobson shows the importance of the labelling process.

  • They conducted an experiment where teachers were told that a randomly chosen sample of students were the most able.

  • After a period of time these students were actually achieving the best results in the class. The labelling of these students had led to a self fulfilling prophecy.


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Differential Educational Achievement1.Class

Keddie 1971

  • Keddie argued that teachers use an image of an ‘ideal’ student to help categorise the students in front of them.

  • This label is attached on the basis of appearance, speech, behaviour and social class.


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Differential Educational Achievement1.Class

  • Ball 1981 – Beachside Comprehensive

  • In this school students were placed in one of 3 bands when they arrived at the school.

  • Ball found that the teachers adopted different attitudes to the bands and taught them differently.

  • Top band students were ‘warmed up’ for exam success whilst bottom band students were ‘cooled down’

  • i.e. the teachers expected more from the top band pupils and pushed them accordingly.


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Differential Educational Achievement1.Class

Smith And Noble 1994

  • Schools in affluent areas are better equipped

  • Parents with money provide more educational aids – computers, books, private tutors etc


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Differential Educational Achievement1.Class

Willis – Learning To Labour 1977

Willis study is a classic in sociology so do refer to your worksheet on a detailed analysis of this work

– especially from a methods point of view as Willis combines Marxism and Interactionism

in an observational case study of 12 WC lads in one school in the Midlands.


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Differential Educational Achievement1.Class

  • The ‘lads’ form a counter-school culture

  • See themselves as superior to teachers and ‘ear oles’ (swots)

  • ‘Having a laff’ is the most important thing

  • Very sexist and racist

  • See themselves as ‘real men’


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Differential Educational Achievement1.Class

Criticisms

  • Blackedge &Hunt 1984

  • Sample is to small

  • Willis ignores other cultures within the school

  • Since 1977 there are few jobs in manual work, therefore many such ‘lads’ stay on longer


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Differential Educational Achievement1.Class

Outside School Factors

Sugarman 1970

  • Sugarman argued that working class children and families had different outlooks to middle class families.

  • They were more concerned with ‘immediate gratification’ i.e. rewards now! Hence they left school at the earliest opportunity to earn money. Middle class families focused on ‘deferred gratification’ i.e. time spent studying and planning now would lead to greater rewards in the future.

  • Over 35 years old now this study is arguably not as relevant today.


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Differential Educational Achievement1.Class

Bernstein 1972 – Language Codes

Bernstein looked at language and how its use in schools disadvantaged the working class children.

Restricted Code

Shorthand speech

Grammatically simple

Meanings don’t need to be made explicit

“Get out of that puddle”


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Differential Educational Achievement1.Class

Bernstein 1972 – Language Codes

Elaborated Code

More complex speech

Details and explanations are given

“Get out of that puddle because the water will get in your shoes and make your socks wet and uncomfortable”


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Differential Educational Achievement1.Class

Bernstein believed that MC kids could use both codes, switching when the need arose

The greater use of the restricted code amongst WC families led to WC kids suffering a disadvantage at school

where the more formal elaborated code was more common.


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Differential Educational Achievement1.Class

Class Subcultures

Bourdieu – Cultural capital

Bourdieu used the concept of ‘cultural capital’ (language , skills, knowledge, attitudes and life style) to explain how middle class children have a head start in the educational race over working class children


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Differential Educational Achievement1.Class

  • Although economic capital (money, houses, facilities etc) cannot be ignored as significant,

  • Bourdieu points out that the middle class students also possess the ‘codes to unlock the mysteries of education’.

  • Middle class children are socialised into the dominant culture and know how it works,

  • their parents are confident about tackling the system and will ensure that their children get the best out of it.


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Differential Educational Achievement1.Class

  • Linked to this is the concept of ‘cultural reproduction’

  • where the working class children grow up to take working class jobs and have working class children who…. and so on

  • and middle class children grow up to take middle class jobs and have children who…..

  • Each generation then replicates the inequality.


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Differential Educational Achievement1.Class

Boudon 1984

  • Boudon used the concept of positional theory to explain how much harder it is for working class children to progress in education.

  • He used a cost/benefit analysis to explain how working class children suffer as they try to do well in education, being successful often is at odds with their background and ultimately exam success

  • and gaining a good occupation moves them into a middle class arena thus giving them problems when they interact with their ‘old life’ (working class friends, family etc).


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Differential Educational Achievement1.Class

  • Middle class children suffer no such conflicts as expectations of friends and family are consistent with exam and career success.

  • They continue along the typical middle class route and have no conflicts

  • It is much harder for working class children to progress in education.


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Differential Educational Achievement1.Class

Material Deprivation

  • This theory focuses on how economic poverty is a big factor in low achievement at school:

    Douglas 1964

  • argued that children living in unsatisfactory living conditions (Poor housing, poor diet etc) did not do very well at school.

  • Further more working class parents weren’t as interested in encouraging their children to do well at school.

  • Critics have pointed out that such attitudes do not exist today but 40 years or more later, poverty still is a crucial factor in educational failure.


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Differential Educational Achievement1.Class

Halsey (1980)

  • found that lack of financial support was a key issue in working class children not staying on a school after 16.


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Differential Educational Achievement1.Class

The Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF)

  • has under taken a lot of current research in this area and in 1997 classified 1 in 10 children as poor

  • (defined as being in a family unable to afford at least 3 things other families took for granted).


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Differential Educational Achievement1.Class

  • 2006 Statistics

  • Only 33% of children receiving school meals gained 5 or more GCSE’s (A*-C)

  • 90 % of failing schools are in deprived areas

  • Exclusions are higher for children from poorer families


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Differential Educational Achievement1.Class

  • Conclusion

  • There are many factors suggested as to why working class children fail at school. However do remember that gender and ethnicity cannot be ignored.


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