Outline some of the reasons why different pupil subcultures exist in schools. (12 marks)

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Outline some of the reasons why different pupil subcultures exist in schools. (12 marks)

A pupil subculture is a group of pupils who share similar values and behaviour patterns. Pupil subcultures often emerge from as a response to the way pupils have been labelled and in particular as a reaction to streaming.

Research shows that pupils respond to negative labelling and racism in different ways. For example they may respond by becoming disruptive or withdrawn. Alternatively, pupils may refuse to accept label and even decide to work harder, to prove it wrong. A good example of pupils responding by rejecting negative labels is Mary Fuller’s study of a group of black girls in year 11 of a London comprehensive school. This group of girls instead of accepting negative stereotypes of them, the girls channelled their anger about being labelled into the pursuit of educational success. Unlike the girls in lower streams, they did form a negative subculture against education and did not seek approval from the teachers. This subculture may still exist in school because; negative labelling and racism still exist among different schools. This ultimately causes pupils to respond by forming good and bad subcultures.

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Colin Lacey’s concepts of differentiation and polarisation help explain how pupil subcultures develop. Differentiation is the process of teachers categorising pupils according to how pupils according to how they perceive their ability, attitude and/or behaviour. Streaming is a form of differentiation, since it categorises pupils into separate classes. Polarisation, on the other hand, is the process in which pupils respond to streaming by moving towards one of two opposite ‘poles’ or extremes. Polarisation can cause different subcultures. One contributing reason for the existence of different subcultures in schools today is that, streaming still exists. Streaming, many comprehensives were streamed into ...

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