THE IMPACT OF SOCIAL CLASS ON EDUCATIONAL EXPERIENCE AND ATTAINMENT IN UK. Sociologists have argued that social class differences in educational attainment can be explained in many terms but not necessarily in mutual exclusive kinds of theories such as; IQ theory; social class differences in material circumstances; sub-cultural attitudes and values and the school labelling processes just to mention a few. Sociologists tend to be critical of the IQ theory for various reasons including the factors affecting how it is measured, so in this essay, I shall therefore concentrate upon the other more sociological approaches and exclude the IQ theory. The following list of key words were essential in my argument; different methods of attainment, gender, ethnicity, cultural deficits, social status, formal and non-formal socialisation, equality of opportunities, ladder of opportunity, formal and hidden curricula, meritocracy, anti-school subculture, cultural deprivation, material deprivation, cultural capital and self fulfilling prophecy.
It is perceived that the British society is divided into different social classes. I would hardly agree with the idea that the British society is meritocratic, meaning that there is social mobility and any individual can be rewarded through hard working, skills and commitment. There is an upper class comprised with people that are very wealthy, by either inheritance or are self made millionaires and their children are most likely to attend private and expensive schools. The middle class; these have professional backgrounds such as teachers, doctors, surgeons etc. Their children are likely to either attend private schools or mainstream schools in a wealthy area, with good OFSTED and GCSE results. Then there are the working class people, usually with backgrounds of heavily dependent on benefits and low income paid jobs. Children from working class families do not tend to do very well in their education. They normally attend local public schools in their area and usually receive free meals at school. Although the government in many cases blame poor teaching and schools for underachievement, it recognises that a child's postcode is also a factor in determining achievement. Postcodes tend to reflect a child's social class background (Earlham sociology pages AS Level and A2 Level Sociology, 2012, online). Students from the lower class are more likely to suffer from material deprivation at home which can hold them back, they lack access to resources such as computers, useful books, educational trips, variety in mass media and by living in small dilapidated cold houses means they are less likely to have a quiet and comfortable personal study space. In some extreme situations, these children may have poor diet which can lead to illness and time off school. According to Gibson and Asthana (1999), the effects of material deprivation are cumulative, creating a cycle of deprivation. This would suggest that home background influences a child’s education (Browne 2006, p. 257). The Middle class parents can pass on cultural and material advantages that privilege or enable their children to succeed within the education system (Archer, 2003, p. 17). Certain ethnic minorities find English as their additional language affecting their children's education. The evidence of language is central in confirming stereotypes and producing unfavourable opinions. Language and communication are so important according to Vygotsky, labelling it a “tool of thought” (Kurata 2011, p. 11). He sees it as important as a way children develop their thinking and understanding and as a means of sharing thoughts and understanding each other. Negative teacher attitudes towards the speech of culturally and socially different children affect teacher expectations, which affect pupil performance. Corson, (1998) and Pierre Bourdieu (1977) described this undermining of working-class’ ability, choices, knowledge, accent, and general...
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