• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

Which has the greatest impact on educational attainment – gender, social class or ethnicity?

Extracts from this document...


Which has the greatest impact on educational attainment - gender, social class or ethnicity? Many sociological studies have been carried out in an attempt to explain the variations in educational performance between different social groups. From these studies, great emphasis has been placed upon certain factors such as social class, gender and ethnicity with relation to educational attainment. Sociologists agree that these facts, being your background, what sex you are (male or female) and what ethnic group you belong to, all impact greatly in the success rate of an individuals educational attainment. When social class is investigated in relation to educational attainment, research carried out by sociologist King (1) (1970) reveals that a child's educational success is related closely to their home background and the social class group to that of the parents. Most socialists would agree with King in the view that the higher a child's parents are in the social class structure the greater that child's chances of educational success. Therefore it is assumed that the children of working class parents do not accomplish as much academically as the children of middle class parents. Socioglists suggest a variety of reasons for the relative educational "failure" of the working class. These reasons are the influence of the home, the neigbourhood/peer group, and the influence of the school. Along side these explanations is also the issue of intelligence/IQ. Psychologist H Eysenck (1971) would argue that the reason for the difference in educational attainment is that of innate intelligence, the fact that individuals inherit their intelligence/IQ from their parents in much the same way that a person would inherit their facial expressions. Eysneck states "what children take out of schools is proportional to what they bring into the schools in terms of IO."(2). Other sociologists would disagree and argue, what is deemed intelligent varies from society to society, IQ scores vary over time and can improve with practice, and also that IQ tests are biased in favour of the middle class as these tests are largely conducted and carried out by members of the middle class group. ...read more.


his main view was that the teacher was the tool to educational achievement; good teaching results in children feeling motivated thus succeeding, bad teaching results in children feeling unmotivated and uninterested thus failing in their education. Labelling has been studied by intereactionists Rosenthal and Jacobson (14) (Pygmalion in the classroom) they are particularly interested in the self-fulfilling prophecy adopted by the child as a direct result of labelling. They pointed out that how a teacher acts towards a child could strongly influence their behavior in school and their attitudes towards their attainment. If a teacher labels a child as a troublemaker then the teacher may act in a different way towards him/her than towards a pupil that has been labelled as hardworking and intelligent. It is believed that the children then respond to the teacher's label, either being discouraged or encouraged in their education. Streaming works along side labelling dividing children into teaching groups according to general ability. Some sociologists have suggested that teachers label children according to their social class, and as a result look down upon the lower working class and make less effort with them others would dismiss this and believe that through streaming the child receives the correct level of teaching for their ability. From analyzing all the above points and studies so far, it can be said that social class (your background) can greatly effect educational attainment. It is widely argued that gender influences attainment. Sociologists have noted the development of the 'the gender gap' i.e. a difference in the level of achievement in boys and girls under sixteen. Studies show boys do not Perform as well as girls in standard subjects (literacy, math's) in school, girls are now overtaking boys at a higher-level standards, notably the 'A' level results of 2000, however Post-16 girls tend to drop out of science and technology despite doing better than boys at GCSE. ...read more.


Their use of English may be looked down upon in the school and the content of the schoolbooks may ignore their culture, stressing only white European culture. PE deals only with western sport. Ethnic minorities are underrepresented in the teaching profession. Language can prove to act as a barrier for some groups. Family values in relation to education plays a major factor, it has been suggested that the reason why the African Asian and Pakistani ethnic groups do well is that their families are very close knit and this provides an exceptionally stable background for study (however this point is criticized by some, Pakistani children usually come from large families, the point of large families is used negatively at times but in this case it is seen as a positive point). Children from ethnic minority groups also have to face racism (20) (both differently and indirectly). It has been suggested that Pakistani and African Asian children seem better able to reject it. It is thought that this is because they have a greater sense of cultural identity than say for example West Indians. They are more able to retain a sense of community and independence of culture, which makes them sure of their own worth. Most schools operate a policy in order to respond to the educational underachievement of some ethnic minority students. One method is the secularised approach, this is the case where religious education is removed and replaced with ethical and cultural studies designed to raise awareness and give pupils a better understanding of their fellow students. Another method is anti-racist education, this being the most difficult approach. It usually focuses on the prejudices held by individual pupils. It is confrontational and controversial. This method is regarded as the colour-blind approach and is largely criticized. In conclusion to the question of which has the greatest impact on educational attainment gender, social class ethnicity, it can be said that all three impact greatly upon attainment. However some sociologists would raise the point that differences and opportunities still vary by and are influenced mostly by social class background. 1 1 ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our AS and A Level Sociological Differentiation & Stratification section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related AS and A Level Sociological Differentiation & Stratification essays

  1. How do the three factors of class, gender and ethnicity affect achievement in education?

    Comprehensive schools were introduced in 1965 and their purpose was to ensure that all pupils were getting equality of opportunity within education. JWB Douglas found that children from working-class backgrounds were less likely to stay on at school while more affluent children were more likely to continue with education.

  2. Critically examine the relationship between gender, religious participation and religious organisations

    This is why women today are still a powerful trump in the hand of the church; it is why the church is notably hostile to all measures likely to help in women's emancipation. There must be religion for women; and there must be women, "true women" to perpetuate religion."

  1. Differences between sex and gender

    However, latest writings on sex and gender have implied that feministic sociologists have relied upon too great a polarisation of the 'sex-gender distinction'. This is backed up by modern gene research which argues that biological facts do contribute to some behavioural attributes.

  2. Is the Underachievement of Ethnic Minority Children due to a Racist School System?

    Also I hope there will be a snowball effect after talking to person. So I can interview as many people as time allows. This is my main way of finding respondents, I understand that it isn't a random representative of the population but that is not what I am concerned

  1. Examine the ways in which factors in pupils' home backgrounds may affect their educational ...

    Bernstein believed that educational attainment may be related to the different speech patterns between the classes and he recognised to different two linguistic codes. These codes originate from the work place and family organisation, the middle classes seem to have a elaborated or universal code where as the working classes

  2. Social factors effecting educational attainment.

    This could result in students preforming poorer simply because home factors determine their social class and thus their educational attainment. We can see how home factors can radically change the educational attainment of a child when we look at Hymen?s theory that even when IQ is held constant throughout the

  1. Identify and briefly describe the discriminatory practices for each case study

    Racism is just as serious and cant be prevented just like sexism. Its genetics we cant decide what sex and race we are. Staff who leave or treat others differently because of their race arent doing their job properly

  2. Assess the argument that social class difference in educational attainment are the result of ...

    In a way, this may motivate students to do better and achieve more; yet this may demotivate them to ignore the labels and give up trying. Self-fulfilling prophecy is an additional internal factor that has an influence on the educational achievements of pupils and links with the labeling theory.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work