Notes for SociologyClass Difference in Achievement- External FactorsExplaining class differencesSocial class background has a powerful influence on a childs chance of success in theeducation system.One explanation of class differences in achievement is that better off parent canafford to send their children to private schools, which many believe provides ahigher standard of education.Cultural DeprivationTheorists believe that most of us begin with basic values, attitudes and skills whichare needed for educational success through primary socialisation.According to cultural deprivation theorists, many working class families have failedto socialise their children adequately which leads these children to grow up culturallydeprived which leads them to underachieve at school.There are three main aspects of cultural deprivation:Intellectual Development-. Theorists argue that many working class homes lack thebooks, educational toys and activities that would stimulate a childs intellectualdevelopment, thus children leave the home without developing intellectual skillsneeded for progress. J.W.B. Douglass (1964) found working class parents are lesslikely to support their childrens intellectual development through reading to them-leading them to do worse than middle class children.Language- Bernstein (1975) talks about how there are two types of speech rolesbetween the working and middle class language. The Restricted Code is used by theworking class. It has a limited vocabulary and is based on the use of short,grammatically simple sentences. The Elaborated Codeis used by the middle class. Ithas a wider vocabulary and is based on longer, more grammatically complexsentences. Speech is more varied and communicates abstract ideas.These differences give middle class children an advantage at school because theelaborated code is the one used by textbooks and exams. Early socialisation into theelaborated role means that middle class children are fluent uses of the code whenthey start school thus they are more likely to succeed as they feel at home.Criticism of Bernstein- Critics argue that Bernstein finds the working class speech tobe inadequate, however unlike most cultural deprivation theorists, Bernsteinrecognises that the school influences childrens achievement. He argues that workingclass pupils fail not because they are culturally deprived, but because schools fail toteach them how to use the elaborated code.Attitudes and Values- Theorists argue that parents attitudes and values affecteducation achievement. E.g. Douglas found that working class parents took lessinterest in their education. As a result, their children had lower levels of achievementmotivation. A lack of parental interest in their childrens education reflects the subcultural values of the working class.Herbert Hyman (1967) argues that the lower class believe that they have lessopportunity for individual advancement and place little value on achieving high
status jobs, so they see no point of education (leave for manual work).Parents passon the values of their class to their children through primary socialisation. Middleclass values equip children for success, whereas working class values fail to do this.Compensatory education- is a policy designed to tackle the problem of culturalcapital by providing extra resources to schools in deprived areas. E.g. OperationHead Start in the US which was a multi billionaire dollar scheme of pre-schooleducation in poorer areas introduced in the 1960s.Criticisms of Cultural Deprivation:Neil Keddie (1973) describes cultural deprivation as a myth and she points out thatworking class children are simple culturally different not deprived. They fail becausethey are put a disadvantage by the education system which is dominated by middleclass values.Blackstone and Mortimore (1994) reject the view that working class parents are notinterested in their childrens education. They argue that they attend fewer parentsevenings because they work longer hours, not because they are not interested.Finally some critics argue that compensatory education acts as a smokescreenconcealing the real cause of underachievement, social inequality and poverty.Material Deprivation:The term Material Deprivation refers to poverty and a lack of material necessitiessuch as adequate housing and income.Facts:In 2006, only 33% of children receiving free school meals (used to measurepoverty) gained give or more GCSEs at A*-C, against 61% not receiving freeschool meals.Nearly 90% of failing schools are located in deprived areas.Working class families are much more likely to have low incomes andinadequate housing which shows the link between poverty and social class.HousingPoor housing can affect achievement directly and indirectly. E.g. Overcrowding canaffect it directly as the child has less room for educational activities, nowhere to dohomework, disturbed sleep from sharing beds and so on.Families living in temporary accommodation may find themselves having to movefrequently, resulting in constant change of school and disrupted education.Indirect effects include the childs health and welfare. E.g. Children is crowdinghomes have a higher risk of accidents. Also cold and damp housing can cause illhealth which can lead to more absences in school.Diet and HealthMarilyn Howard (2001) found that young people from poorer homes have lowerintakes of energy, vitamins and minerals. Poor nutrition affects health.
Richard Wilkinson (1996) found that among ten year olds, the lower the social class,the higher rate of hyperactivity, anxiety and conduct disorders, all of which are likelyto have a negative effect on the childs education.Financial support and the costs of educationA lack of financial support means that children from poor families have to miss outon experiences that would enhance their educational achievement. Bull (1980)refers to this as the costs of free schooling.Tanner (2003) found that the cost of items like uniform and transport puts a heavyburden on poor families.Flaherty talks about how the fear of stigmatisation may help explain why 20% ofpeople entitled with free school meals do not take up their entitlement.A lack of funds means that children from low income families often need to work.This helps us explain why many working class pupils leave school at 16.Dropout rates are also higher for universities with a larger proportion of poorerstudents e.g. at Sunderland there is 13% drop out rate.However material factors only play a part in achievement as some children from poorfamilies have gone on to succeed.Cultural CapitalBourdieu: Three types of CapitalPierre Bourdieu (1984) argues that both cultural and material factors influenceachievement and are not separate but interrelated.Bourdieu also talks abouteducational capital and cultural capital. He argues that the middle class possessmore of all three types of capital.Cultural CapitalCultural Capital refers to the knowledge, attitudes, values, language, tastes andabilities of the middle class.Bourdieu sees the middle class as a capital because it gives advantage to those whopossess it. He argues that through socialisation, middle class children are more likelyto develop intellectual interests and an understand what the education systemneeds to succeed.The working class find that school devalues their culture as inferior and their capitalleads to exam failure. Some pupils get the message that school is not for them thusleading to early leaving and truanting.Educational and Economical CapitalLeech and Campos (2003) study shows that middle class parents are more likely tobe able to afford a house near a desirable school. This is known as selection bymortgage because it drives up demand for houses near successful schools.Similarly, wealth parents can convert this cultural capital into educational capital bysending their children to private schools.
A test of Bourdieus ideasAlice Sullivan (2001) used questionnaires to conduct a survey of 465 pupils in fourschools to assess their cultural capital. She asked them to do a range of activities e.g.reading. She found that those who read complex fiction and watched serious TVdocumentaries developed greater cultural knowledge thus a higher cultural capital.These pupils were more likely to be successful at GCSE.However, she also found that these students with greater cultural capital were morelikely to be middle class.Gewirtz: Marketisation and Parental ChoiceOne example of how cultural and economic capital can lead to differences ineducational achievement is via the impact of marketisation and parental choice.Sharon Gewirtz (1995) examined class differences in parental choice of secondaryschool. She used interviews in her study of 14 London school and concluded thatthere was three main types of parents who were categorised into privileged-skilledchoosers, disconnected-local choosers and semi-skilled choosers.Privileged-skilled choosers- These were mainly middle class parents with highcultural capital who used their economic and cultural capital to gain educationalcapital for their children. They also use their economic capital to afford to move theirchildren around the educational system to the best deal out of it.Disconnected-local choosers- These were mainly working class parents with a lack ofeconomic and cultural capital. They found it difficult to understand the schoolsystem and were less confident with dealings with school. The cost of travel anddistance were major restrictions when choosing a school and heir funds werelimited.Semi-skilled choosers- These were mainly working class parents but unlike thedisconnected-local choosers, there were ambitious for their children. However theyalso lacked cultural capital and found it difficult making sense of the educationmarket.Gewirtz concluded that middle-class families with cultural and economic capital were betterplaced to take advantage of opportunities for a good education.Class Differences in Achievement- Internal factorsLabellingTo attach a meaning or definition to someone.Teachers attach labels on the basis of stereotyped assumptions about theirbackground.Working class pupils negatively and middle class pupils positively.Labelling in Secondary SchoolsBecker (1971) carried out a study with 60 Chicago teachers using interviews. Hefound that teachers judged pupils according to how closely they fitted the image ofthe ideal pupil.Children from a middle class background were the closest to theideal image and working class children were further away.
Cicourel and Kitsuses study shows how labelling can disadvantage working classstudent. They found that counsellors assessed students on social class or raceinstead of ability. Students who had similar grades were labelled middle class andwere more likely to have higher level courses.Labelling in Primary SchoolsRay Rists study found that the teachers used information e.g. home background toplace them in separate groups. Tigers were the fast learners and tended to bemajority middle class. They had a clean appearance and were given the greatestencouragement.Clowns and Cardinals were seated further back and tended to be the workingclass. They were given low level books and fewer opportunities to demonstrate theirability.High and Low Status KnowledgeGilborn and Youdell studied how schools use teachers notions found that workingclass and black pupils are less likely to have that ability to achieve 5 A* to C grades atGCSE..They are more likely to be placed in lower sets which deny the knowledge andopportunity needed to gain good grades which widens the class gap in achievement.The Self-Fulfilling Prophecy (SFP)The self-fulfilling prophecy is a prediction that comes true simple by virtue of ithaving been made.Step 1- The teacher labels a pupil and makes a prediction about them.Step 2- The teacher treats the pupil according to the prediction.Step 3- The pupil internalises the teachers expectation and becomes the kind ofpupil the teacher predicted.Teachers ExpectationsRosenthal and Jacobson (1968) study shows how the SFP works. They told the schoolthat they had a new test specially designed to identify those pupils who wouldspurt ahead. This was untrue because the test was an IQ test. The researcherstested all the pupils and then picked 20% of them randomly, and told the school thatthey were spurters. When they returned a year later, they found that almost half(47%) of those spurters had made significant progress especially the youngerchildren.They suggested that the teachers had been influenced by the test and the teachersbeliefs were conveyed to the pupils e.g. body language thus showing how the SFPworks.The SFP can also produce under-achievement. If a teacher has low expectationsfrom a child and communicates these expectations to them, it might lead the childto develop a negative self- concept thus leading to failures.Streaming and the SFP
Streaming involves separating children into different ability groups called streams.They are taught separately from the other.Becker shows that teachers dont see working class children as ideal pupils becausethey tend to see them as lacking ability thus working class children are found to be inlower streams. Once they are streamed, it is less likely for them to move up thestreams. The children in the lower streams get the message that the teachers havewritten them off as no-hopers.This creates the SFP in which pupils live up to their teachers low expectations byunderachieving. By contrast, middle class pupils tend to benefit as they are closer tothe ideal pupil.Pupil SubculturesA pupil subculture is a group of pupils who share similar values and behaviourpatterns. They often emerge as a response to the way pupils have been labelled.Laceys (1970) concepts of differentiation and polarisation are used to explain howpupil subcultures develop:Differentiation- the process of which teachers categorise pupils on how theyperceive their ability, attitude and behaviour. Streaming is a form of differentiationsince it categorises pupils into separate classes.Polarisation- the process in which pupils respond to streaming by moving towardsone of the two opposite poles or extremes.In Laceys study of Hightown Boys Grammar School, he found that streaming polarised boysinto a pro-school and an anti-school subculture.The pro-school subculturePupils in high streams (majority middle class) tend to remain committed to thevalues of the school. They gain their status in the approved man, through academicsuccess.The anti-school subcultureThose placed in low streams (majority working class) suffer a loss of self-esteemwhich leads them to push themselves in other methods of gaining success. Usuallythis is through inverting the schools value of hard work obedience and punctuality.Laceys study is a striking example of the power of labelling and streaming to actuallycreate failure. These boys had been successful at primary school and were amongthe elite of about 15% who passed the eleven plus exam to get into the grammarschool.Once in the grammar school, the competitive atmosphere and streaming meant thatmany boys were soon labelled as failures and showed extreme physical reactions e.g.bed wetting. By the second year, many boys had become distinctly anti school asthey adjusted to their status as failures.Abolishing StreamingStephen Ball (1981) found that when Beachside school abolished banding (a type ofstreaming) in favour of teaching mixed-ability groups, the basis for pupils to polarise
into subcultures were largely removed and the influence of the anti-schoolsubculture declined.However differentiation continued as teachers categorised pupils differently andwere likely to label middle class pupils as cooperative which lead to them doingbetter in exams thus suggesting a SFP had occurred. Balls study shows that classinequalities can continue as a result of teachers labelling, even without the effect ofsubcultures or streaming.Since Balls study, the Education Reform Act (1988) has shown a trend towards morestreaming and towards a variety of types of school which creates new opportunitesfor differentiation.The variety of pupil responsesPeter Woods (1979) argues that there are other responses to labelling and streamingother than Pro- and anti-school subcultures. These include:Ingratiation- being the teachers petRitualism- going through the motions and staying out of troubleRetreatism- daydreaming and mucking aboutRebellion- outright rejection of everything the school stands for.John Furlong (1984) also observes that pupils dont stick to one response but tend tomove between different responses.The limitations of labelling theoryThe labelling theory is accused of determinism as it assumes that pupils who arelabelled have no choice but to fulfil the prophecy and will fail but Mary Fullers(1984) study shows that this is not always true where the girls channelled their angerinto the pursuit of educational success.Marxists also criticise the labelling theory for ignoring the wider structures of powerwithin which labelling takes place and fail to explain why teachers are blamed.Marxists argue that labels are stems for the fact that teachers work in a systemwhich reproduces class divisions.Marketisation and selection policiesMarketisation brought in:A funding formula that gives a school the same amount of funds for each pupil.Exam league tables that rank each school according to its exam performance andmake no allowance for the level of ability of its pupils.Competition among schools to attract pupils.The A-to-C economy and educational triageGilborn and Youdell describe the A-to-C economy as a system in which schoolsration their time, effort and resources, concentrating them on those pupils who theyperceive as having the potential to get five grade Cs at GCSE and so boost theschools league table position.Gilborn and Youdell call this process the educational triage, triage means sorting.Schools categorise pupils into those who will pass anyway, those with potentialand hopeless cases. Teachers do this using notions of ability in which working class
and black pupils are labelled as lacking ability(hopeless case) thus producing a SFPand failure.Gilborn and Youdells triage is similar to Laceys idea of differentiation, since theyboth involve treating pupils differently and labelling. Gilborn and Youdell link thetriage to marketisation policies (league tables) and show how these, when combinedwith teachers stereotypical ideas about pupils ability, lead to differences inachievement.Competition and SelectionMarketisation also explains why schools are under pressure to select more able,largely middle class pupils who will gain the school a higher ranking in the leaguetables leading to even more able pupils joining the school thus increasing fundingand making the school popular. An increased popularity will enable the school toselect from a larger number of applicants and recruit the most able thus improvingresults once again.By contrast, unpopular schools have to take up the least able students fromdisadvantaged backgrounds as they cannot afford to screen out the less able. Thesestudents tend to get worse results, thus leading the school to become less popularand see funding further reduced. These pressures have resulted in increased socialclass segregation between schools.Will Bartlett (1993) argues that marketisation leads to popular schools:Cream-skimming- selecting higher ability pupils who gain the best results and costless to teach.Silt-shifting- off loading pupils with learning difficulties who are expensive to teachand get poor results.An image to attract middle-class parentsGeoffrey Walfords (1991) research on CTCs (city technology colleges) found thatalthough they were intended to provide vocational education in partnership withemployers to recruit pupils from all social backgrounds, in practice they have cometo be just another route to elite education. They became attractive to middle-classparents but because they were seen as the next big thing to a traditional grammarschool.There is evidence that marketisation and selection have created a polarisededucation system; popular, successful, well resourced schools with more able,middle class intake at one extreme and unpopular, failing, under-resourced schoolsPupilsTriageThose who will passanywayHopeless casesBorderline C/D- Targetedfor extra helpEducational Triage
with mainly low-achieving working class pupils at the other. Gewirtz describes this asa blurred hierarchy of schools.Ethnic differences in achievementEvidence of Ethnic Differences in SocietyWebb found that white pupils make up around four out of five of all pupils.The DfES found that only 24% of all white male pupils who were on free school mealsgained 5 A*-C grades.White and Asian pupils on average achieve higher than black pupils.The DfES also tells us that within every ethnic group, the middle class do better thanthe working class pupils.They also tell us that among all groups other than Gypsy/Roma children, girlsoutperform boys.External factors and ethnic differences in achievementCultural DeprivationIntellectual and Linguistic skills- Cultural deprivation theorists see the lack ofintellectual and linguistic skills as a cause of underachievement for minority children.They see children from low income black families as lacking intellectual stimulationand enriching experiences which leaves them poorly equipped for school. Howeverthe Swann Report (1985) criticises this by seeing language as a major factor ofunderachievement as Indian pupils do well despite the language barrier(Gilborn&Mirza, 2000).Attitudes and values- Cultural deprivation theorists see black children having a lackof motivation while other children are socialised into mainstream culture which hasmany features like ambition which equips them for success. Also they argue thatblack children have a live for today attitude which leaves them unequipped forsuccess.Family structure and parental support- Cultural deprivation theorists argue that thefailure to socialise children adequately is the result of a dysfunctional familystructure. Daniel Moynihan (1965) argues that many black families are headed by alone mother which means boys have no male role model to look up to thus creatingeducational underachievement.Asian families- Ruth Lupton (2004) argues that the adult authority in an Asian familyis the same to the model that operates within schools. However some sociologistssee Asian families as an obstacle to success e.g. Khan (1979) found Asian families asstress ridden, bound by tradition especially for girls.White working-class families-White working class pupils underachieve might bebecause of a lack of parental support. Also Lupton found that teachers reportedlower levels of behaviour and discipline despite there being fewer children on freeschool meals. Teachers blamed this on the negative attitudes that white working-class parents have on education.Criticisms of Cultural Deprivation:
Driver (1977) criticises cultural deprivation theorists for not seeing the positive sideof ethnicity e.g. strong independent women provide girls with a positive role modelwhich explains why black girls tend to be more successful than black boys.Lawrence (1982) argues that black pupils underachieve not because of low selfesteem but because of racism.Keddie argues that ethnic minority children are culturally different not culturallydeprived, and they underachieve because schools are ethnocentric: biased to favourthe white culture.Material Deprivation & ClassWorking class people are more likely to face poverty and material deprivation.Educational failure is a result of factors such as low income and substandardhousing.Flaherty argues that ethnic minorities are more likely to face these problems: For example:Pakistanis and Bangladeshis are over three times more likely than whites to be in thepoorest fifth of the population.Unemployment is three times higher for African and Bangladeshi/Pakistani peoplethan whites.15% of ethnic minority households live in overcrowded conditions, compared withonly 2% of white households.Pakistanis are nearly twice as likely to be in unskilled or semi-skilled jobs comparedto whites.Bangladeshi and Pakistani women are more likely to be engaged in low-paidhomeworking, sometimes for as little as £1.50 per hour.These inequalities reflect on educational achievement. E.g. Indians and Whites holda higher social class position than Pakistanis and Bangladeshis who face poverty. Thisexplains why Pakistanis and Bangladeshis do worse.The Swann Report estimates that social class accounts for 50% of the difference inachievement between ethnic groups.Racism in wider societyJohn Rex shows how racism leads to social exclusion and how this worsens thepoverty faced by ethnic minorities. E.g. in housing, discrimination means thatminorities are more likely to be forced into substandard accommodation.In employment, there is evidence of direct and deliberate discrimination.Mike Noon(1993) sent identical letters about employment opportunities to the top 100 UKcompanies with the names of Evans and Patel. The companies were moreencouraging towards the white candidate.This helps us explain why ethnic minorities are more likely to face unemploymentand low pay and in turn has a negative effect on their childrens educational success.Internal factors and ethnic differences in achievementLabelling and Teacher Racism
Labelling is to attach a meaning or definition to a person e.g. troublemaker.Wright studied a multi-ethnic primary school and found that Asian pupils can bevictims of teachers labelling as the teachers held an ethno-centric view (Britishculture is superior).The Asian pupils felt isolated when teachers expressed their disapproval. The effectwas that Asian pupils, especially the girls were pushed to the edge and preventedfrom participating.Gilborn and Gilborn found that teachers were quicker to discipline black pupils thanothers for the same behaviour.Racialisedexpectations- teachers expected black pupils to have worse behaviour.Pupil resources and subculturesThe colour blind teachers who believe all pupils are equal but in practice allowracism.Fuller and Mac anGhaill: rejecting negative labels- A good example of pupilsresponding by rejecting negative labels is minority ethnic groups do well. The studyhighlights two key points. First, pupils may still succeed even when they refuse toconform and negative labelling does not lead to failure e.g. as the black girlschannelled their anger for being put into lower streams and succeeding ineducational achievement.Mirza found that racist teachers discouraged black people from being ambitiousover their careers.Sewell found that teachers in a secondary school had a black stereotype of blackmachismo which sees all black boys as rebellious, anti-authority and anti-school.Sewell found that there were four ways in which black boys responded to thisstereotype.The rebels- The rebels were most visible and influential group but only a smallminority were black. They were against what the school stood for and conformed tothe stereotype of the black macho lad.The conformist- The largest group who were keen to succeed and were not a partof the subculture.The retreatist- Tiny minority of isolated individuals who were disconnected fromboth the school and the black subculture.The innovators- This was a group who only valued success but only conformed toschoolwork, not the teachers.Evaluation of labelling and pupil responseLabelling theory shows how teachers stereotypes can cause a failure.There is a danger as this can be seen as a teachers prejudice and not racism in widersociety. Also outside factors can play a part e.g. influence of role models.Mirza shows that pupils may devise strategies to try to avoid teachers racism whichcan limit their opportunities.The ethnocentric curriculum
Ethnocentric describes an attitude or policy that gives priority to the culture andviewpoint of one particular group.Troyna and Williams describe the curriculum in British schools as ethnocentricbecause it gives priority to white culture and the English language.Stephen Ball criticises the national curriculum for ignoring cultural and ethnicdiversity and promoting an attitude of little Englandism.Miriam David describes the national curriculum as a specifically British curriculumthat teaches the culture of the host community.However it is not clear what impact the ethnocentric curriculum has. E.g. while thecurriculum may ignore Asian culture, Indians, and Chinese pupils, achievement is stillabove the average.Institutional RacismEthnocentric curriculum is a prime example of institutional racism.Troyna and Williams see the meagre provision for teaching Asian language asinstitutional racism because it is an example of racial bias being built into theeveryday workings of school and colleges.Troyna and Williams argue that explanation of ethnic differences in achievementneed to go beyond simply examining individual teacher racism to look at howschools and colleges routinely discriminate against ethnic minorities.Individual racism- that results from the prejudiced views of individuals.Institutional racism- discrimination that is built into the way institutions such asschools and colleges operate.Richard Hatcher found that school governing bodies gave low priority to race issuesand failed to deal with pupils racist behaviour.Selection and SegregationParents do not want to send their white kids to schools with high Asian populations.The Commission for Racial Equality found that racism in school admissionsprocedures means that ethnic minority children are more likely to end up inunpopular schools. The reasons for this are that reports from primary schools thatstereotype minority pupils. Also there is racist bias in interviews for school places.There is a lack of information and application forms in minority languages. Ethnicminority parents are often unaware of how the waiting list system works and theimportance of deadlines.Gilborn argues that selection gives more scope to select pupils which puts ethnicminorities at a disadvantage.Moore & Davenport argue that better schools discriminate against problem studentand that selection leads to an ethnically stratified education system.Ethnicity, class and genderEvans discusses how for a black child we examine their culture and ethnicity but for awhite child we focus on their class and concludes that we have to look at all threefactors (class, ethnicity and gender).
Studies like Evans shows us that we cannot just consider ethnicity but also look atgender and class when explaining differences in achievement.Gender Differences in EducationThe gender gap in achievementOn starting school- Children are given a baseline test in which the Qualifications andCurriculum Authority found that 62% of girls could concentrate without supervisionfor 10 minutes whereas only 49% of boys could do this.At key stages 1 to 3- Girls do consistently better in English where the gender gapwidens with age but in science and maths the gap is narrower but girls still do better.At GCSE- The percentage difference is around 10% each year since 1985 and itfavours the girls.At AS level and A level- girls are more likely to pass and get higher grades but thegender gap is lower than GCSEs.On vocational courses- A larger proportion of girls receive distinction in everysubject than boys.External factors and gender differences in achievementThe impact of feminismThe feminist movement has lead to more rights for women since the 1960s.However equal rights have not completely been achieved but there has beenconsiderable success which is highlighted by Angela McRobbie who comparedwomens magazines from the 1970s and 1990s. In the 1970s the magazines wereemphasising the importance of marriage and the 1990s one had images ofindependent women.Changes in the familyThere have been major changes in the family since 1970s. These include:increase in divorce rateincrease in cohabitation and decline in the number of first marriagesincrease in the number of lone-parent families (mostly female headed)smaller families.These changes have affected girls attitude towards education. E.g. An increase in thedivorce rate encourages girls to look after themselves and to do well at school so they canbecome independent.Changes in womens employmentThere have been important changes in womens employment. These include:The 1970 Equal Pay act makes it illegal to pay women less than men for work ofequal value.
The proportion of women in employment has risen from 47% (1959) to over 70%(2007).Some women are breaking through the glass ceiling- the invisible barrier whichkeeps them out of professional and managerial jobs.These changes have encourages girls to see their future with greater opportunities whichprovides them with the incentive to gain qualifications.Girls changing ambitionsSharpe compared interviews conducted with girls from 1970s and 1990s. She foundmajor shifts in the way girls see their future now. In 1970s, the girls had lowaspirations and prioritised marriage and the family. The girls in the 1990s wanted tosupport themselves and see their future as independent women.Internal factors and gender differences in achievementEqual opportunities policiesGIST (Girls into science and technology) and WISE (Women into science andengineering) encourage girls to pursue careers in non-traditional areas. Femalescientists have visited school acting as role models so that girls become aware ofthese policies and use them to thrive in educational success.The introduction of the National Curriculum made boys and girls study mostly thesame subjects which removed one source of gender inequality.Positive role models in schoolsAn increase in the amount of female teachers and head teachers means that thereare more women in positions of authority and seniority which means they can act asrole models for girls and push them towards educational successGCSE and courseworkGorard found that the gender gap was constant from 1975 till 1988 when it startedto favour girls because of the introduction of GCSEs and coursework. Gorardconcluded that the gender gap is a product of the changed system of assessmentrather any more general failing of boys.Mitsos and Browne suggest that girls are more successful at coursework becausethey are better at meeting deadlines, more organised, spend more time on theirwork and more conscientious.Teacher attentionSwann and Graddol found that boys attract the teachers attention so they get moreopportunities to speak. However they found that teachers interacted with girls morepositively because the discussion focused on school work.Swann found that boys dominate class discussions but girls prefer group work andare better at listening and cooperating. This may explain why teachers respond tothem more positively as they are seen as cooperative.
Challenging stereotypes in the curriculumResearch from the 1970s found women to be portrayed as housewives and mothersin textbooks. However the removal of these stereotypes from textbooks haveimproved girls achievement and removed a barrier.Selection and league tablesJackson sees the introduction of league table as favouring girls achievement asschools want to attract high achieving pupils who tend to be girls and not lowachieving pupils (majority boys). This leaves boys to be seen as liability students-obstacles to the school improving its league system.Two types of girls achievementLiberal feminists- They celebrate the progress made so far on improvingachievement, but believe that more progress will be made by educationalopportunities policies and overcoming stereotypes.Radical feminists- They see the progress made but still see school as remainingpatriarchal e.g. education still limits subject choices and there are still more malehead teachers than female.Boys and AchievementBoys and LiteracyThe DCSF (2007) found that the gender gap is mainly a result in boys poorer literacyand language skills. One reason for this is because parents spend less time reading totheir sons. Also boys leisure pursuit (football) does little to develop these skillswhereas girls adopt a bedroom culture and stay in and talk to their friends.In response to this problem, the government have introduced a range of policies tosolve this. The National Literacy Strategy includes a focus on improving boysreading.Globalisation and the decline of traditional mens jobsSince the 1980s, there has been a decline in the amount of traditional mens jobssuch as heavy industries. This has the result of the globalisation of the economywhich has led to industries shift to developing countries such as China to takeadvantage of cheap labour.Many boys now believe that they have little prospect of getting a proper jobs whichundermines their motivation and self-esteem and so they give up trying to getqualifications.Feminisation of educationSewell says that boys fall behind because education is more feminised, it focusesmore on methodical work (which favours girls) than leadership (which favours boys).Shortage of male primary school teachers
The DfES found that men only make up 16% of primary school teachers which meansthere is a lack of strong positive male role models at school which leads tounderachievement. This is also supported by the amount of female headed loneparent families which means there is also no male role model at home.Recent studies however go against this claim as Myhill and Jones found that 13-15year old boys felt that male teachers treat boys more harshly.Laddish subculturesEpstein found that working class boys are likely to be harassed as sissies and swots.Francis supported this and found that boys were more concerned about beinglabelled as swots than girls as it is a threat to their masculinity. This is becauseworking class culture is associated with being tough and manual labour. As a result,working class boys reject class work to avoid being called gay.Francis found that laddish culture is becoming increasingly widespread.Gender, class and ethnicityIt is wrong to conclude that boys are failures as boys now do better than they did inthe past.McVeigh found the similarities in girls and boys achievement are far greater thanthe differences. The DfES found that the class gap in class achievement was threetimes greater at GCSE than the gender gap.As a result, boys and girls of the same social class tend to get similar results e.g.atGCSE in 2006, the gender gap was never greater than 12%.By contrast, pupils of the same gender but different social class achieve diverseresults e.g. girls from the highest class were 44 points ahead of girls from the lowestcast.Subject choice and gender identitySubject choiceThe introduction of the national curriculum reduced pupils freedom to drop subjectsby making them compulsory till the age of 16.Boys and girls tend to follow gender routes though the education system.Stables and Wikeley found that when there was a choice in the national curriculum,boys and girls tend to choose differently. E.g. D&T is compulsory but more girls pickfood technology whereas boys pick graphics.There are big differences for A level subjects with boys opting for Maths and Physicsand girls for Sociology and English.There is gender segregation in courses as well with only one in 100 constructionapprentices being a girl.Explanations of gender differences and in subject choiceEarly Socialisation
Early Socialisation shapes childrens gender identity. Norman found that from anearly age boys and girls are dressed differently. Boys are rewarded for being activeand girls are rewarded for being passive.School also plays a big part. Bryne found that teachers encourage boys to be toughand not sissies and girls are encouraged to be quiet and clean.Gender Domains- Murphy found that boys and girls interpret tasks differently.Murphy asked boys and girls to design a boat and an estate agent advert. Boystended to design a battleship and focused on masculine spheres such as the garagefor the advert. Girls on the other hand designed cruise ships and focused more onthe decor of a house.Gender subject imagesThe gender image that a subject gives off affects who will want to choose it. e.g.Science is seen as a boys subject as science teachers are more likely to be men.However the DfES found that pupils who go to a single-sex school tend to hold lessstereotyped images.Peer pressureSubject choices can be influenced by peer pressure. Other boys and girls may applypressure to an individual if they disapprove of his or her choice. E.g. Boys tend to optout of music because it is out of their gender domain.Gendered career opportunitiesJobs are sex-typed as mens and womens. Womens jobs tend to be similar tohousework e.g. childcare. This sex-typing affects pupils ideas of what jobs areacceptable or possible. E.g. if boys get the message that nursery nurses are women,then theyll be less likely to opt for that career.Gender IdentityVerbal AbusePaetcher sees name calling as shaping gender identity and maintain male power. Theuse of words like queer are ways in which pupils police each others sexualidentity.Male peer groupsMale peer groups use verbal abuse to reinforce their definitions of masculinity e.g.calling boys who want to do well as gay.Redman and Mac anGhaill found that the definition of masculine identity changesfrom toughness in lower school to intellectual ability in sixth form.Teachers and discipleTeachers also play a part in reinforcing dominant definitions of gender identity e.g.male teachers often teased boys off for acting like girls.
The male gazeMac anGhaill see the male gaze as a form of surveillance through which dominantheterosexual masculinity is reinforced and femininity devalued. Boys who do notdisplay this heterosexuality run the risk of being labelled gay.Double standardsWhen we apply one set of moral standards to one group but a different sent toanother group e.g. Boys boast about their own sexual exploits bur call a girl a slag ifshe does the same or dresses in a certain way.Feminists see this as a example of patriarchal ideology that justifies male power anddevalues women.The role of education: Functionalism and the New RightThe functionalist perspective on educationDurkheim: Solidarity and SkillsTwo main functions of education:Creating social solidarityTeaching specialist skillsSocial Solidarity:Durkheim argues that society needs a sense of solidarity; individual members mustfeel themselves to be part of a single body or community.He argues that without social solidarity, social life and cooperation would beimpossible as each individual would pursue their own selfish desires.The education system helps to create social solidarity by transmitting societysculture (shared beliefs) from one generation to another.School acts as a society in miniature, preparing children for life in wider society. E.g.both in school and work you are taught to co operate with people who are notrelated to you.Specialist Skills:The cooperation of many different specialists promotes social solidarity but , for it tobe successful, each person must have the necessary specialist knowledge and skillsto perform their role.Durkheim argues that education teaches individuals the specialist knowledge andskills that they need to play their part in the social division of labour.Parsons: MeritocracyMeritocracy- The idea that everyone has an equal opportunity to succeed and whereindividuals rewards and status are achieved by their own efforts rather thanascribed by their gender, class or ethnic group.Acts as a bridge between the family and wider society.
The bridge is needed because family and society operate on different principles, sochildren need to learn a new way of living if they are able to cope with the widerworld.Within the family, the childs status is ascribed; particular rules apply to only thatparticular child.By contrast both school and wider society judge us all by the same universalistic andimpersonal standards. Each pupil is judged against the same standards e.g. they allsit the same exam.Likewise in both school and wider society, a persons status is achieved not ascribede.g. working hard for a promotion.Parsons sees school as preparing us to move from the family to wider societybecause school and society are both based on meritocratic principles.Davis and Moore: Role AllocationLike Parsons, Davis and Moore also see education as a device for selection and roleallocation, but they focus on the relationship between education and socialinequality.They argue that inequality is necessary so that the most important roles in societyare filled with the most talented people.Not everyone is equally talented, so society has to offer higher rewards for thesejobs thus creating competition as everyone will now compete for these jobs.Education plays a key part in this process as it acts as a proving ground for ability.Education sifts and sorts everyone according to ability.The most able gain the highest qualifications, which then gives them entry to themost important and highly rewarded positions.Evaluation of the Functionalist PerspectiveThere is evidence that equal opportunities in education dont exist. E.g. achievementis greatly influenced by class background rather than ability.Marxists argue that education in capitalist society only transmits the ideology of aminority- the ruling class.The interactionalist, Dennis Wrong argues that functionalists have an over-socialisedview of people as mere puppets of society. Functionalists wrongly imply that pupilspassively accept all they are taught and never reject the schools values.The New Right argue that the state education system fails to prepare young peopleadequately for work. This is because state control of education discouragesefficiency, competition and choice.The New Right perspective on educationThe New Right favour the marketisation of education as schools are run likebusinesses and have to attract consumers (parents) by competing with each other.Schools provide consumers with what they want (good exam results) so that theydont go out of business.The New Right is similar to Functionalism in many ways e.g. they believe that peopleare naturally talented.
However the key difference is that the New Right do not believe the currenteducation system is achieving these goals. This is because it is run by the state.The state take a one size fits all approach. The local consumers who use the schoolsuch as parents, pupils aswell as employers have no say or input in the educationalsystem.Schools in which waste money or have poor results are not answerable to theirconsumers. Which means that pupils potentially have lower standards ofachievement.Chubb and Moe: Consumer choiceChubb and Moe argue that the American state education has failed and they makethe case for opening it up to market forces of supply and demand. They make anumber of claims:Disadvantaged groups- The lower classes have been badly served by the state as ithas failed to create equal opportunity.State education fails to produce pupils needed by the economy.Private schools have higher quality education as they are answerable to those whoare paying- the parents.Chubb and Moe based this on the achievements of 60,000 pupils from low income familiesin 1,015 state and private schools and parents surveys. They found that low-income familiesdo about 5% better in private schools. Chubb and Moe call for a market system that wouldput control in the hands of the consumers (parents) thus allowing them to meet their ownneeds. For this to work Chubb and Moe would propose the end of guaranteed funding toschools and the introduction of vouchers given to each family to spend on buying education.Two roles for the StateThe state imposes a framework on schools within which they have to compete e.g.by publishing league tables of exam results.The state ensures that schools transmit a shared culture.Evaluation of the New Right PerspectiveMarxists argue that education doesnt impose a shared national culture, and arguesthat it imposes the culture of a dominant minority ruling class.Gewirtz and Ball argue that competition between schools benefit the middles class.Critics would argue that real cause of low educational standard isnt the state controlbut social inequality and adequate funding of state schools.There is contradiction between the support of new rights parents choice on onehand and the state imposing a compulsory national curriculum all its schools on theother.The role of education: MarxismAlthusser: The Ideological State Apparatus
Althusser focuses his work on the way that the working class learn to become passive andobedient. Althusser argues that the state exercises power over the working class. This canbe achieved through two means:Repressive State Apparatus (RSA)-Physical control of the W/C through the Police,Military, Judicial system etc.Ideological State Apparatus (ISA)-A form of brain washing through socialisation.This is the control over mind rather than by physical means.The R/Cs dominant ideology gets filtered through I.S.A (Media, education etc.) down to theW/C. Althusser argues that the education system performs two functions in the ISA:Education reproduces class inequality by transmitting it from generation togeneration.Education legitimates class inequality by producing ideologies that disguise its truecause.Bowles and Gintis: schooling in capitalist AmericaBowles and Gintis build on Althussers point that the main purpose of education is toReproduce Class Inequalities I.e. Obedient workers. They believe that the school createsworkers through two main ways; Hidden Curriculum and the Myth of Meritocracy.The correspondence principle and the hidden curriculumBowles and Gintis argue that there are close parallels between schools and work e.g.Both are hierarchies with head teacher and bosses. Bowles and Gintis argue that thisprinciple operates through the hidden curriculum which are lessons learnt withoutthem being directly taught. In this way, schooling prepares working class pupils fortheir roles as exploited workers of the future.The myth of MeritocracyBecause there is inequality in a capitalist society, the poor may feel that it isundeserved and unfair. Bowles and Gindis argue that meritocracy doesnt exist.Evidence from this shows that the main factor in determining whether or notsomeone has a high income is their family and class not their ability.The myth of meritocracy justifies the privileges of higher classes, making it seem thatthey gain them through open and fair competition.This helps persuade the working class to accept inequality as legitimate, making itless like to overthrow capitalism.Willis: learning to labourPaul Willis looks at how working class pupils resist the attempts to indocrinate theminto this myth of meritocracy. Using qualitative methods (unstructered interview),Willis studied the counter-school culture of the lads, a group of 12 working classboys as they made a transition from school to work.The lads opposed the school and took the piss out of the earoles (conformist boys)and girls.The lads find school boring so they flout its rules e.g. Smoking. These lads see suchacts of defiance of ways of resisting the school.Willis notes the similarity between anti-school counter-culture and shopfloor cultureas both cultures see manual work as superior and the lads were strongly identifiedby this which explains why they see themselves as superior to the earoles and girls.Evaluation of Marxist Approach
However,Postmodernists criticise Bowles and Gintis’ correspondence principle onthe belief that schools now produce a different labour force than the one describedby Marxists. They argue that education now reproduces diversity not inequality.By contrast, Willis rejects the view that school simply ‘brainwashes’ pupils intopassively accepting their fate.However, critics argue that Willis’ account of the lads’ romanticises them, portrayingthem as working class heroes despite their antic-social behaviour and sexistsattitudes.Marxists disagree with one another as to how reproduction and legitimating takesplace. Bowles and Gintis take a deterministic view. This approach fails to explain whypupils ever reject the school’s values.Critical modernists such as Morrow and Torres (1988) criticise Marxists for taking a‘class first approach that sees class as the key inequality and ignores all other kinds.They argue that sociologists must explain how education reproduces and legitimisesall forms of equality, not just class, and how the different forms of inequality areinter-related.Educational policy and inequalityThe main phases of educational policy in BritainSelection: The Tripartite systemThe 1944 Education Act brought in the tripartite system so children could beallocated to one of the three types of secondary schools. This was identified byeleven plus exams.Grammar Schools offered an academic curriculum and access to higher education.These were students who had academic ability and passed the 11+ exams. Thesepupils tended to be middle class.Secondary modern schools offered a non-academic curriculum and access to manualwork for pupils who failed 11+. These pupils tended to be working class.The third type (technical schools) only existed in few areas so this was more of abipartite system.The tripartite system discouraged meritocracy by reproducing class and genderinequality. This was done by channelling the two social classes into two differenttypes of schools and girls were often given higher boundaries.The system also legitimated inequality as it gave the ideology that ability is inbornrather than a childs upbringing and environment and upbringing.The Comprehensive SystemThis system was introduced to overcome the class divide of the Tripartite system andmake education more meritocratic. However it continued to reproduce classinequalities for two reasons.Streaming- streaming into ability groups meant that the middle class were placed inhigher streams than the working class.Labelling- Even when streaming is not present, teachers continue to label workingclass pupils negatively.
Comprehensives also legitimate the myth of meritocracy as every pupil now goes tothe same school with the equal opportunities regardless of class background,however in reality this is not the case.Marketisation and ParentocracyMarketisation is introducing market forces of consumer choice and competitionbetween suppliers in areas run by the state.The Education Reform act introduced this and created an education market byreducing direct state control over education and by increasing competition betweenschools.Policies such as the publication of exam league tables and Ofsted reports are used topromote marketisation.Ball and Whitty look at how marketisation reproduces and legitimates inequality. Theyargue that it is reproduced through exam league tables and the funding formula.Exam league tables- Schools that have poor league positions cannot afford to beselective with pupils and have to take less able pupils thus lower exam results. Theeffect of league tables is thus to produce unequal schools that reproduce social classinequality.Funding Formula- Schools are allocated funds on how many pupils they attract.Popular schools get more funding so they can afford better facilities but unpopularschools lose income and find it difficult to keep up with popular schools whichcreates inequality.The myth of ParentocracyBall argues that parentocracy is a myth as it makes it appear that all parents have thesame freedom to choose what school to send their children to.In reality, Gewirtz shows how middle class parents have more economic and culturalcapital and so take advantages of these choices available to them e.g. moving toareas with desirable schools.New Labour policies since 1997Reducing InequalityAfter 1997,Labour Governments have introduced a number of policies that aim to reduceinequality. These include:Identifying deprived areas (Education Action Zones) and supplying them withadditional resources.The Aim Higher programme to raise the aspirations of groups who are under-represented in higher education.EMA payments to students with low income backgrounds.Proposal to raise the school leaving age to 18 (currently passed)-hopefully thisreduces to the number of NEETS (those not in education, employment or training).Promoting Diversity and Choice
New Labour have aimed to create a system built around the needs of the individual childand where power is in the hands of the parents.To do this, the Labour Governmentintroduced the following policies:Secondary Schools were encouraged to apply for specialist school status in particularcurriculum areas. By 2007, around 85% of all secondary schools had becomespecialist schools. It is argued that this offers parents a greater choice and raisesstandards of achievement.Labour has also promoted academies as a policy for raising achievement and plans tohave 200 academies by 2010.Postmodernism and New Labour policiesLabour policies reflect ideas put forward by postmodernists. E.g. Kenneth Thompsonargues that schools can break away from the one size fits all system in apostmodern society.Thompson argue that education becomes customised to meet the needs of diversecommunities.Postmodernism is criticised as it neglects the continuing importance of inequality ineducation.Criticisms of New Labour policiesWhitty (2002) sees a contradiction between Labours policies to tackle inequality andits commitment to marketisation. EMAs encourage working class students to stay onuntil they are 18-tuition fees deter people away from university.Also critics point out that there is a continued existence of both selective grammarschools and fee-paying private schools. Despite the Labour Partys long-standingopposition to private schools as bastions of middle and upper-class privilege.Policies relating to gender and ethnicityGenderThe triparte system has led girls to be included in higher education.Policies like GIST have reduced gender differences in subject choice.EthnicityPolicies aimed at improving achievement of children from minority ethnic backgrounds havegone through several phases.1. Assimilation policies focused on the need for pupils to assimilate into mainstreamBritish culture as a way of raising their achievement.2. Multicultural education (MCE) policies aimed to promote achievements fromminority ethnic groups by valuing all cultures in the school curriculum thereby raisingminority achievements. The MCE has been criticised on several grounds:Maureen Stone argues that black pupils do not fail for lack of self esteem, soMCE is misguided.The New Right criticise MCE for perpetuating cultural divisions.3. Social inclusion of pupils and policies to raise achievement of minority ethnic groups.Policies include:the detailed monitoring of exam results by ethnicity and help for voluntarySaturday schools in the black community.