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Underachievement of particular students on the basis of their background.

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Introduction

UNDERACHIEVEMENT OF PARTICULAR STUDENTS ON THE BASIS OF THEIR BACKGROUND There have been many theories about over the causes of underachievement of students. Many published findings have found that there is a correlation between educational success and the ethnicity, gender and social class of a student. In an educational system that is supposed to be a meritocracy, an idea put forward by functionalist sociologists, why are these factors still determinants of educational attainment? Many sociologists have studied and developed theories on the issue of differential educational achievement. Also the factors that are most reported today in the mass media on this issue are usually based on gender and ethnicity. This may be because certain ethnic minority groups make up a large proportion of the working class. However working class Afro-Caribbean boys seem to come out last overall in educational attainment. Dr Gilborn commented on the BBC news website, www.bbc.co.uk" If you are from working class home and African Caribbean, Pakistani or Bangladeshi, the chances are that you will not do as well as a white pupil in the same position, regardless of whether you're a boy or girl". ...read more.

Middle

In the government report, "Mapping Race, Class and Gender", by David Gilborn and Heidi Mirza (2000), it was found that all the minority groups were progressively attaining better results than a decade ago, but the gap between white students and their African Caribbean classmates was continually widening. The report stated that the black students were better prepared at the start of school than any other groups but as they passed though the educational system they fall behind. So what or who is responsible for the underachievement of ethnic minorities, especially African Caribbean boys who have the highest percentage of permanent exclusion rates (0.76), as shown in the table in Appendix B from the Department of Education and Skills website, www.statistics.gov.uk/statbase/ Many sociologists such as Douglas (1964), Sugarman (1970) and Hyman (1960) argue that it is the family and their attitudes to the education system that is the root cause of educational unachievement. In an article " The Value Systems of Different Classes" Hyman outlined the differences between working class and middle class systems. He argued that the value system of the lower classes created "a self imposed barrier to an improved position". ...read more.

Conclusion

These findings support the Sugarman findings on working class students going for immediate gratification, whereas middle class students go for future rewards, by attending university, deferred gratification. Sugarman accuses working-class subculture of placing students at a disadvantage in the educational system. Though the data in appendix C does agree with the suggestion of working class students choosing immediate gratification ahead of planning for the future, this could be the result of cultural deprivation. Studies such as Douglas's" The home and the school"(1964) focuses on the level of attendance of parents at parents evenings, related to social class. He found that middle class parents attended parent's evenings more often than working class parents, and concluded from this that they expressed more interest in their child's educations. This idea has been criticised by sociologists as non-attendance at parents evening doesn't only show a parents disinterest in their child's education, but that they may have other commitments. Working class parents are more likely to have financial burdens, and therefore may be unable to take the time off work to attend. While sociologist such as Douglas, Hyman and Sugarman take the stance of blaming the working class family for the educational attainment of their children, other sociologists believe that it is the school that controls the educational attainment of students. ...read more.

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