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Define the main features of an inner-city school and give one example of how deprivation might affect achievement. What has been the impact of recent educational change and legislation of their work?

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Assignment 2 – Define the main features of an inner-city school and give one example of how deprivation might affect achievement. What has been the impact of recent educational change and legislation of their work?

The Oxford Pocket Dictionary (2008) explains that, inner city is the area near the centre of a city, especially when associated with social and economic problems. I understand inner city as being an area in the city that suffers with poverty, meaning that the people are deprived of certain things because they have a lack of money. Gilbert F (2004) explains that, poverty can also mean that a person lacks the essentials for a minimum standard of well-being and life, the condition of being ‘poor’ and the condition of being without adequate food and money and in need of help. There are two types of poverty, which are absolute poverty and relative poverty. Absolute poverty is defined as anyone without a set of minimum necessities of essentials for living and relative poverty defines income or resources in relation to the average. Poverty - the facts (2007) explains that, growing up in poverty can affect a child’s physical and cognitive development and their health and well-being. According to Poverty - the facts (2007), children born into poverty are more likely to have a lower birth weight, high infant mortality and poorer health than the better off children. Poverty can cause such conditions like, homelessness and chronic overcrowding, which have a significant impact upon a child’s physical, mental and social development and well-being. Poverty and unsatisfactory living standards may cause health problems and absence from school.

Teaching in an inner city school must be extremely challenging. However, it could also be a very positive experience because it would very interesting to work with children from different countries and cultures, which can be great because you are then able to celebrate the different heritages in the classroom, which will help the children and the teacher to create build a better understanding of them. You would be able to learn a great deal about the social and economic backgrounds of the children and how these impact upon their lives. However, they are major disadvantages to inner city schools too. According to Gilbert F (2004), some of these disadvantages include, higher levels of socio-economic deprivation are closely associated with lower GCSE attainment, low nutrition levels, huge language barriers, those living in poor housing conditions have a lower life expectancy and those poorer pupils, which are those that are eligible for free school meals, play truant more frequently than more affluent pupils.

Children in areas of social deprivation can face a variety of issues that present difficulties for them and the school. However, that does not mean that behavioural issues are always at the root of a school being labelled as ‘challenging.’ Issues such as poverty, parents’ working patterns, for example, casual or shift work, a high proportion of a community whose first language is not English, migrant workers can all affect children, their schools and their communities. Ultimately, working in a challenging inner city school is about addressing low achievement, whatever its causes.

The Guardian (21 November 2003) explains that, schools in some of the most deprived urban areas of England are still struggling to raise standards despite billions of extra pounds of extra government funding. According to The Guardian (21 November 2003), OFSTED analysed the performance of inner city schools 10 years on from an earlier study. Within its sample, The Guardian (21 November 2003) stated that just over one in 10 primary schools and just over one quarter of secondary schools were found to be struggling to make and maintain improvements.

 Should you teach in an inner city school? (2006) explains that, recent initiatives have introduced the specialist school status and the extended schools system. The latter programme encourages schools to open for longer hours during the week and at the weekend, so that they can offer their library, sporting facilities and IT facilities to all children in the area. The idea here is to provide a positive attitude in the local community, to help break down the barriers to achievement and to promote schools as good places to be.

        One aspect of deprivation I am going to focus on is material deprivation. Bartlett S, Burton D & Peim N (2001) explains that, material deprivation is the extent to which people have or are denied certain material things in life, such as levels of income, standard of housing, lack of space at home, poor diet, which leads to poor concentration and tiredness, access to consumer goods and is the main cause of differential educational achievement. The Guardian (21 November 2003) explains that, material deprivation led the Plowden Report to conclude that only in extreme cases did poverty play a significant part in explaining differential educational achievement. According to The Guardian (21 November 2003), the idea that the material conditions of an individuals home and cultural background could explain that differential educational achievement has gone in and out of fashion in Britain for the past 50 years, mainly as economic changes have an impact on people’s standard of living. However, this should not detract from the basic principles that children from maternally deprived homes are at a disadvantage when compared to children from more affluent home backgrounds. The Guardian (21 November 2003) states that, since poverty and deprivation apply only to children from working class backgrounds, these are potential causes of lower academic performance and hence material deprivation becomes an important explanation for differential educational achievement.  

        According to Wedderburn D (1994), the theory of material deprivation says that economic poverty is a big factor in low achievement at school. Wedderburn (1994) also explains that, in 1997, the Joseph Rowntree Foundation classified one in ten children as poor, which was defined as being in a family that could not afford at least three things other families took for granted. Unemployment and low income mean less money for books, Internet and school trips. These low-income families are also unable afford to send their children to nurseries or private schools or university.

        Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs (2004) explains that, each one of us is motivated by needs. Our most basic needs are inborn and he explains that we must satisfy each need in turn, starting with the first, which deals with the most important need on the hierarchy, this is survival. There are 7 stages of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs are explained as starting with the biological and psychological needs, for example, air, food, drink, warmth and shelter, etc that we need to stay alive, the second is the Safety needs, for example, protection from elements, security, law, stability, etc and the third stage is the Belongingness and Love needs, for example, self-esteem, achievement, independence, etc. The fourth stage is the Cognitive needs, for example, knowledge, meaning, etc, the fifth stage is Aesthetic needs, for example, appreciation, beauty, balance, etc and at the top of the hierarchy is the self-actualisation stage, where self-fulfilment is reached. The reason for mentioning Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs within my assignment is because I wanted to display that children that suffer with poverty are unable to develop the higher needs as they have insufficient basic needs. However, children who have supportive parents and do not have money issues are able to push their children up the hierarchy in order for them to reach their full potential.

For those children that suffer with language differences do find it hard to learn another language. Arthur J, Grainger T & Wray D (2006) explain that, a huge amount of support should be given to the children whose first language is not English and teachers should allow and encourage to speak and work in their own language, explore stories, books and poetry through their first language and introduce the English version with props, puppets or through drama and encourage the children to speak in their home languages in the whole class and group work. Bernstein (1970) carried out a study in the East End of London about language styles and found that working class pupils were not comfortable with the style of language required by the school. The style they used was called the restricted code, which was in short terms of speech, for example, very blunt. However, middle class pupils preferred to use the elaborated code, which was a more advanced style, where the speech was more lengthy and explicit. Modood et al (1997) explains that some ethnic groups do better than others. The survey found that Chinese, African Asians and Indian groups were more qualified than whites. Also, ethnic minorities were more likely than white pupils to continue into further education and people from ethnic minorities who were born in the UK had much higher qualifications than people who moved to the UK from abroad. However, Modood et al (1997) also explains that the survey showed that Bangladeshi and Pakistani women were least well qualified and Afro-Caribbean, Pakistani and Bangladeshi men were least qualified. Also, Pakistani and Afro-Caribbean groups were less likely to get into university courses, and more likely to get into less prestigious universities.

There are factors such as labelling, the curriculum and prejudice that are all factors that affect achievement due to culture differences. Gillborn (1990) explains that, the labelling theory says that teachers have different expectations of different ethnic minority groups. According to Gillborn (1990), teachers negatively label black students and this labelling could lead to a self-fulfilling prophecy of failure. There is also an issue about whether the school curriculum is ethnocentric, for example, that it might fit the mainstream, white and middle class culture better than other ethnicities. Gillborn (1990) states that, languages in the National Curriculum are mainly European, where children usually learn French and German, not Chinese and Gujarati. Assemblies, school holidays and even history lessons may also not fit with the culture and history of particular groups. According to Gillborn (1990), some sociologists see British Education as intuitionally racist. This is where policies and attitudes discriminate against ethnic minority groups. Wright (1992) explains that, even though members of staff said they were committed to equal opportunities, Asian girls got less attention from teachers and felt their cultural traditions were disapproved, for example, they may get told off for wearing a head scarf if it is not part of the school uniform. Sociologists say that these factors lead to a low self-esteem for ethnic minorities.

Over the years there has been many policies put in place in order to improve education, for example, Whitty G (2002) explained that the 1944 Education Act that introduced the tripartite system and the 11+ test, then in 1965, the Labour Government made schools comprehensive so that everyone had equality of opportunity, in 1965, the push for vocational subjects started so that children could learn the specific practical skills they need in work and then in 1988, the Education Reform Act introduced some major reforms in education. According to Whitty G (2002), the major reforms were things like having better standards in education, where schools could opt out of their local education authority and become grant maintained schools and another change is that by having a system where parents have more choice about where they can send their child to by using league tables. Whitty G (2002) suggests that, these league tables show how many children at that particular school passed their exams and how many get good grades. All of these policies made a dramatic improvement in education. However, in 1997 the New Labour took over because they wanted to do something about inequality. Whitty G (2002) explains the changes were that, infant class sizes were reduced to a maximum of 30, numeracy and literacy hour in primary schools were introduced, Education Action Zones were set up in order to help areas in deprivation and they have also tried to increase the number of people going to university. Another change that I think has been the most effective is the fact that citizenship education has been introduced into the curriculum to introduce pupils to the different cultures and to make them more aware of politics. All of these policies have had a huge impact on education, I know this because these policies were put in place while I was at school to I was able to experience them. I found that vocational subjects were a fantastic way in order to prepare for the world of work and they help create a closer link between school and work. I also think that the fact that parents are able to choose which school their child goes to by using league tables promotes equality of opportunity. Having done religious education at school, which is another name for citizenship, I had the opportunity to explore other cultures into depth and practised their celebrations. I did not attend an inner city school but I still think by learning other people’s cultures makes you more aware about the world we live in.

More recently, the government has set up something called, Sure Start. Whitty G (2002) explains, that Sure Start is a government programme, which aims to deliver the best start in life for every child. It brings together education, childcare and health and family support. According to Whitty G (2002), Sure Start covers a wide range of programmes, which are mainly targeted for local areas and disadvantaged groups. Whitty G (2002) states that, Sure Start Local Programmes increase the availability for childcare for all children, improves health and emotional development for young children and supports children as parents and in their aspirations towards employment. According to Whitty G (2002), the Sure Start programmes achieve their aims by helping services develop in disadvantaged areas alongside providing financial help for parents to afford childcare. What is Sure Start? (2008) explains that, Sure Start covers children from 9 months old to 14 years old, including those with special needs and disabilities up to the age of 16. Sure Start is said to be the next step to halve child poverty by 2010. Sure Start young ‘behave better’ (March 2008) explains that, Sure Start Local Programmes have had a really positive effect on education and have improved the disadvantaged areas considerably. According to Sure Start young ‘behave better’ (March 2008), findings show that Sure Start Programmes have exhibited more positive social behaviour, exhibited greater independence and self-regulation, prepares children to do well at school and makes the most of their talents and parents have said that Sure Start has provided their children with a better home learning environment and more positive parenting skills.

To conclude, inner city schools do have positive factors about them, not just negative, which are what most people think of them as. Before taking this module, I thought of the term inner city as communities and schools in the city that include violence and racism. However, having recently visited an inner city school in Birmingham, I was totally mistaken because the school has such a positive atmosphere and was really attractive and warming. I managed to talk to a few of the students at the school and they loved the school and explained that there is no violence or racism experienced in the school. However, they did say that it is hard to make friends because there are so many different languages spoken in the school. Language differences are difficult. However, with the Government introducing the Sure Start Local Programmes, this can help these children to start to learn English so it is easier for them when they get to school. Sure Start is a fantastic opportunity for those disadvantaged pupils to get a head start before going to school. I hope that in the future these Sure Start Local Programmes will expand so that everyone will have an opportunity to access one because they are making a huge impact to so that educational achievement can increase.  

References

The Oxford Pocket Dictionary (2008)

http://targetjobs.co.uk/teaching-and-education/articleview-39s_32a_3489.aspx - Should you teach in an inner city school? (2006)

http://www.socialaffairsunit.org.uk/blog/archives/000230.php - The Perspective of an inner city teacher – Gilbert F (2004)

The Guardian (21 November 2003) – Inner-City Schools Still Struggling

Bartlett S, Burton D & Peim N (2001) - Introduction to Education Studies – Paul Chapman publishing

Arthur J, Grainger T & Wray D (2006) – Learning to Teach in the Primary School

http://www.childreninwales.org.uk/areasofwork/childpoverty/endchildpovertynetwork/povertyfacts/index.html - Poverty - the facts (2007)

http://www.businessballs.com/maslow.htm - Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs (2004)

Wedderburn D (1994) – Poverty, Inequality and Class Structure – Cambridge: CUP

Modood, T. et al (1997) – Fourth National Survey of Ethnic Minorities (Policy Studies Institute)

Bernstein B (1970) – ‘Elaborated and Restricted Codes’ – Oxford: Pergamon

Gillborn D (1990) – Racism, Ethnicity and Education – London: Routledge  

Whitty G (2002) – Making Sense of the Education Policy – SAGE Publishing

What is Sure Start? (2008) – Shropshire County Council -http://www.shropshire.gov.uk/surestart.nsf

Sure Start (2008) - www.surestart.gov

Sure Start young ‘behave better’ (March 2008) - http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/education/7277123.stm

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