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Assess the view that the schools and what takes place within them are the main cause of social class differences in educational achievement

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Introduction

´╗┐Assess the view that the schools and what takes place within them are the main cause of social class differences in educational achievement ________________ The education system, in theory, is supposed to be a meritocratic system. This means that it is supposedly a level playing field, in which children from every class have an equal opportunity to achieve, and in which the best performers can be recognised. However, there is a very significant trend, in which middle class children achieve far more highly than their working class peers, and sociologists seek to find the cause of this differentiation in achievement between the classes, and one area which can be suggested as the cause of inequalities are problems within the schooling system itself. One process that occurs within school that could be attributed to differential achievement is labelling. Becker produced a theory known as Labelling Theory, in which he suggested that labels, once given to children, become self-fulfilling prophecy. This means that children began to exhibit the behaviours given to them through their labels, this label then became their master status as they began to adopt the behaviours, and in time became their moral career, as they were unable to have any form of life away from their label. ...read more.

Middle

Another way in which differential achievement between the classes may be produced is through setting and streaming. This is a process in schools in which students are put into groups, supposedly based on achievement, and taught separately. They aim of doing so is so that teaching is more specialised to the needs of each group. However, the basis on which children are grouped can be questioned, along with whether this process is in the best interests of the children, particularly the working class children. This ineffectual setting process was highlighted by Ball. Ball looked at first years (year 7?s), who had been put into sets on the basis of information provided by their primary schools, this was not just based on ability, but a lot depended on behaviour (the closest the students were to the ideal pupil- white, middle class and female). This meant that working class children were immediately more likely to be put into a lower set, not because of ability, but because they were not the ideal students, which put them at a disadvantage in their education through no fault of their own. ...read more.

Conclusion

theorists Bowles and Gintis, claiming that they did not account for the role of human agency: it is not just the fault of the system, the working class children actively rebel against the culture of school, forming their own counterculture. As well as this, we must also acknowledge other out of school factors and the parts that they play, for instance working class children and families being lacking in material and cultural capital, meaning that they cannot afford to access the education system to its fullest, afford materials, or able to work the system. As well as there being differences in the perceived parental expectation of the classes. And while these issues can each be debated, we cannot deny that there are factors external to the schooling system that have an effect on the differences in achievement that we can see between the classes. We can therefore see that, while there are factors outside of the school that affect achievement, there are a number of factors that occur in school, such as labelling and streaming, which research has suggested has a powerful effect on the achievement of children, creating differences between the classes. ...read more.

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