Outline and assess sociological explanations of social class inequalities in educational attainment

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Outline and assess sociological explanations of social class inequalities in educational attainment

Until the late twentieth century, most people’s identities and interests were part and parcel of the type of work they did and the work based communities they lived in. Virtually all aspects of their lives including gender roles, family life, political views and leisure were a product of their working class identity. The education system is one of the most influential institutions in society. It takes individuals from the age of 4 or 5, for six or so hours a day, over a period of at least eleven years. It bombards them with a vast amount of knowledge, attitudes and skills. These are acquired through formal lessons or informally by what is known as the Hidden Curriculum.  

In general, the higher a person’s social class of origin (the class they were born into) the higher their educational qualifications; this has been shown time and time again over the past 50 years by sociological research and government statistics. It was revealed that in 1989, children born into families of professional careers obtained five or more GCSE’s at nearly 50% whereas pupils born into families with unskilled manual jobs were only at 12% obtaining five or more GCSE’s. However narrowing this gap not been completed but increasing the numbers gaining five or more GCSE’s has occurred. In 2000, the percentage of pupils from professional backgrounds gained an increase to 69% gaining five or more GCSE’s and pupils from unskilled manual jobs increased from 12% to 30%; these increases are still overshadowed by the huge gap created between classes and I will look onto how this gap may of occurred.

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Certain groups have less money than others and so are not able to make the most of their educational opportunities. This may not have the time and space at home to do schoolwork; they may not be able to raise money for educational trips; and they may not have access to educational materials such as books, computers and the internet. They may experience ill health, have to work part time to support their studies, or have to care for young siblings. Governments have attempted to reduce the material disadvantages faced by working class pupils through positive discrimination. This takes ...

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