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sociology of education

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Mark Suffolk Group A Sociology of Education A functionalist view is that education prepares children for their role in society. The view suggests that the education system is meritocratic with each pupil having an equal opportunity to succeed, and students who are the most hardworking will achieve the best grades. Functionalists suggest there are three main objectives of the education system. One function is to provide secondary socialisation in addition to the family's role of primary socialisation. Through a formal and hidden curriculum pupils are taught societies norms and values. A second objective of the education system is to teach skills which are necessary for success in the workplace in modern society. These skills range from basic requirements such as reading and writing to skills which are needed to be able to perform specific jobs. The third role is to offer qualifications through assessments and examinations which enable a student to get a job in line with their individual talents. There are criticisms of the functionalist perspective. This approach could be classed as too deterministic. It makes an assumption that the values taught in school will automatically be embraced by students. ...read more.


The New Right is a form of Conservatism. They are criticised for not portraying an objective viewpoint and having a bias. They are accused of not offering a sociological theory but pushing their political views and ideas. The New Right has influenced education with the introduction of league tables and increased competition, which they believe will raise standards within schools. The New Right suggest education is not serving the needs of people because it is run by the state. The New Right and functionalists have shared ideals, both believe in meritocracy and believe school should socialise pupils to shared values and prepare them for work. John Chubb and Terry Moe (1990) argue that state education is not meritocratic and the middle classes have an advantage over the working class and ethnic minority groups. The 1988 education act introduced competition between schools by offering parents the right to choose their child's school. League tables were introduced to give parents an indicator to how schools were performing. This created a situation where parents wanted to send their children to schools that were deemed to the 'best' as they were the top of the league. ...read more.


There have been initiatives such as education priority areas, where more funding is aimed at inner city areas which have been identified as deprived areas. However recent statistics show that children who have wealthier parents achieve higher grades. Social democratic theory says a better organised education will lead to a better economy. In 2008 this idea remains the same with initiatives in place such as 'Train to gain' and learn direct aimed at providing 'skill' training to aim for a better qualified workforce. Alison Woolf (2002) views are in opposition to this theory. She would argue that by spending a lot more money to help more people gain qualifications that Britain will have a workforce that is over qualified. A degree is now a requirement for a job which previously was offered to, and was within the capabilities of a non graduate. Her suggestion is the government should provide more opportunity for people to have' on the job' training through apprentiships rather than vocational training. This enables people to gain skills and experience which are more valuable to employers. These skills are perhaps more relevant if picked up in 'real' work situations rather than in a classroom. Alison Woolf has also studied research which has suggested increasing expenditure on education and training doesn't necessarily promote economic growth. ...read more.

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