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Sociology of Education

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Unit One: Sociology of Education Date: 14th February 2008 Name: Jules Hindle Assignment No: 2 Introduction During this assignment I will be identifying the social class differences in educational outcomes. I intend to investigate them and then assess the sociological explanations that account for these differences. Introduction According to National Statistics online, there is a clear correlation between social class status and educational success or failure. The above graph shows that parental and family circumstances impact upon GCSE attainment. In 2002, 77 per cent of children in year 11 in England and Wales with parents in higher professional occupations gained five or more A* to C grade GCSEs. This was more than double the proportion for children with parents in routine occupations (32 per cent). The trends of these statistics are also similar for those students in further and higher education. In 2002, 87 per cent of 16 year olds with parents in higher professional occupations were in full-time education compared to 60 per cent of those with parents in routine occupations. (http://www.statistics.gov.uk/cci/nugget.asp?id=1003) The above statistics clearly demonstrate that higher the person's position within the social class system, the more likely they are to succeed in education. I intend to investigate why we have these differences in educational results and why it is that children from middle and upper class backgrounds do better at school than those from working class homes. ...read more.


In Jack Demaine's book 'The Sociology of Education today', David Gillborn and Deborah Youdell ask why, at a time of rising overall achievement, there has also been a consistent increase in relative inequalities of attainment, especially in relation to social class. Some believe that working class children under achieve simply because their parents aren't very bright and therefore bright children come from bright families. If your parents have middle class jobs you are more likely to want to get one. However, not many people are of this opinion these days. Haralambos & Holborn (2004, pg 748), state that financial affluence provides many advantages to parents, affording them access to educational resources, tools, private tuition and education. Heaton and Lawson (1996, pg 69) believe that material deprivation in working class families, such as poor diet and unsatisfactory housing conditions, can affect a child's ability to succeed at school. One example given was that of overcrowded housing leads to lack of space for homework thus reflects badly in their overall educational performance. Numerous studies carried out, such as Douglas (1964) and the Plowden Report (1967), as cited in Heaton and Lawson (1996, pg 70), suggest that "working class parents offer less encouragement and support towards their children's education than middle class parents do". ...read more.


Conclusion When considering social class differences in educational outcomes, I do not believe we can simply blame it on one factor. The above information clearly shows that there are many contributing factors that can be, and usually are, interlinked. Regardless of class, if a child is receiving support and encouragement at home, in an environment where education is viewed as an important aspect of their life, they can achieve in the classroom. If education is seen as pointless by parents then there is a greater chance that this attitude will be inherited by their children as part of their family culture. Factors such as higher household income and middle class cultures can greatly benefit a child's progress through the educational system and there is no doubt that financial advantages, such as class specific extra-curricular activities and private tuition, can equip students with a wider knowledge and a more thorough preparation for life inside and outside of education. Individuals in this country have the opportunity to overcome poverty via success in childhood education, however if the support, encouragement and inclination are not present at that time then success is inevitably made more difficult and moving up the social ladder can prove almost impossible. Recent research and statistics have in fact shown that social class may no longer be the key factor in different educational outcomes and that ethnicity and gender differences are now being regarded as having the same, if not more, importance. ...read more.

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