Section 2 - Education - complete

  • Created by: scarlett
  • Created on: 08-09-20 18:44

Functionalism & Education

- education plays a part in secondary socialisation, passing on core values
- eduction sifts and sorts people for the appropriate jobs (allocation function)
- education teaches the skills needed in work and by the economy

- Durkheim said that education passes on norms and values in order to integrate individuals into soicety
- education helps to create social order based on cohesion and value consensus, and to strengthen social solidarity

- Parsons describes school as a bridge between the family and adult roles of society
- schools pass on a universal value of achievement
- Parsons says rgar education selects children into appropriate roles because its meritocratic
- he agrees with Durkheim that education helps to make people agree about norms and values

- Davis and Moore (1945) say that every society sorts its members into different positions
- they think that there are rules for how education does this called "principles of stratification"
- they believe that there has to be a system of unequal rewards (more money or status) to motivate people to train for the top positions

- the functionalist perspective says that education is meritocratic
- a meritocracy is when social rewards are allocated by talent and effort rather then because of a position someone was born into
- talent + motivation + equal opportunities = qualificatioons and a high position in society

1 of 50

Marxism & Education

- education prepares children for the world of work by giving them skills and values employers need
- education passes on ruling class ideology that supports capitalism
- education legitimises inequality

- Bowles and Gintis (1976) say that there is correspondance between pupil experiences of school and adult work
- pupils are prepared for the world of work by the school system:
~ pupils are taught to accept the hierarchy at school / work also has a hierarchy
~ pupils are motivated by grades to do boring work / workers are rewarded with pay to do boring work
~ the school day is broken into small unit / so is the work day
~ at school and work, subservience is rewarded
- they say that the hidden curriculum also prepares people for work

- Marxists claim that, as well as these skills and values, education also passes on capitalist ideology
- Althusser, a neo-Marxist, sees education as part of the "ideological state apparatus"
- its a tool of capitalism which is used to pass on the belief that society is fair, even though it isn't (it legitimises inequality)
- Althusser thinks education produces a docile and obedient workforce who will not challenge authority

- Willis (1977) says that education doesn't turn out an obedient workforce
- some children form an anti-school subculture and cope with school and then adult work by messing around
- Bordieu used the concept of cultural capital to explain how middle-class children generally go on to fill the top jobs in society
- Marxists say that education legitimises inequality through meritocracy
- they claim that it is a myth so w/c pupils are balmed for their poor results when it is normally down to their social class

2 of 50

Similarities and Difference Between Functionalist

- both functionalism and Marxism look at the big picture
- institutions and the whole structure of society
- they tend to ignore social interaction (with the exception of Willis)
- both say education has a huge impact on the individual and that it's closely linked to the economy and work

- the biggest difference is how they see inequality
- Marxists say education helps to reproduce and legitimise inequality
- functionalists say education passes on the value of meritocracy and lets people better themselves

3 of 50

Criticisms of Functionalist Educational Views

- evidence of differential achievement in terms of class, gender and ethnicity suggests that education is not meritocratic

- "who you know" is still more important than "what you know" in some parts of society which means that the allocation function doesn't work properly

- it can be argued that the education system doesn't prepare adequately for work
- for example, the lack of engineering graduates indicates education is failing to produce what employers and the economy needs

- functionalism doesn't look at how education may serve the interests of particular groups in terms of ideology and values 
- it doesn't explain conflict 

- they don't look interaction and social processes within the school

4 of 50

Criticisms of Marxist Views on Education

- Marxism assumes people are passive victims 
- it exaggerates how much working-class students are socialised into obedience
- Willis showed how students actually resist authority

- msot people are aware of the inequality in education, and don't think that this inequality is legitimate

- they don't look at interaction and social processes within the school

5 of 50

Feminism & the Education System

- some feminists argue that the hidden curriculum unofficially reinforces gender differences
- there are still gender difference in subject choice in schools
- gender stereotyping may still exist
- girls are now outperforming boys at school
- however boys still demand more attention from the teacher
- men seem to dominate the top positions in schools and even more so in universities

- Liberal feminists want equal access to education for both sexes

- Radical feminists believe men are a bad influence, and want female-centred education for girls

- Marxist feminists want to consider gender inequalities combined with inequalities of class and ethnicity

6 of 50

New Right & Education

- NR theorists believe in the power of individual choice, and prefer this to the state intervening in people's lives
- they claim that the role of a school should be more like the role of a business
- businesses have to compete with one another to attract consumers and provide those consumers with the products they want and need
- NR theorists claim that this forces all businesses to continually improve their standards
- state school are run by the state, so they don't have to compete for their consumers
- NR theorists say that this has caused poor standards
- they want to accelerate the creation of an 'education market' where a school's role is to provide what its community wants and needs

7 of 50

Hidden Curriculum

- as well as the formal curriculum of subject content, schools pass on a set of social norms and values to their students (the hidden curriculum)
- turing up to lessons on time, dressing smartly in the correct uniform and working hard to achieve rewards are all part of the hidden curriculum
- they all teach students things they will need in adult life
- the hidden curriculum is part of many areas of school life
- for example, a hierarchy of management staff, teaching staff and students teaches respect for authority
- punishments for failing to do homework teaches students about the importance of following instructions

8 of 50

Labelling Theory

- people deicde on the characters of others and treat them accordingly, whether the label is fair or not 

- according to this theory, labels are an important part of teacher-pupil relationships
- if a student is labelled by their teacher as a 'troublemaker', they're disciplined more harshly than their classmates
- meanwhile, a student labelled as 'bright' is given encouragement to help them to succees even further

- labelling can create a self-fulfilling prophecy
- this is where the student internalises the label they've been given as part of their identity and 'acts up' to the label
- for example, 'troublemakers' might behave poorly because that's how they think their teacher expects them to behave anyway

- some studies have shown that teachers label students based on ethinc, gender and class stereotypes
- Gillborn and Youdell (2000) found that black pupils were more likely to be disciplined than their white classmates for the same behaviour, and black students felt that their teachers had low expectations of them

9 of 50

Sorting Pupils

- students are sorted into classes according to ability, and they stat in these groups for all or most of their subjects

- students are sorted into classes according to ability, but on a subject-by-subject basis
- e.g. a student could be in the top class for maths and the lowest class for music

Mixed Ability
- students are sorted into classes that aren't based on ability, so that the highest and lowest achieving students are taught together

10 of 50

Sorting Pupils 2

- there are advantages and disadvantages to all of these systems
- the main argument in favour of setting and streaming is that students can work at their own level and pace

- one problem with streaming is that students are likely to be better at some subjects than others, so some 'bottom stream' students aren't challenged enough in certain subjects, while some 'top stream' students struggle in some subjects

- both setting and streaing can lead to low self-esteem for those in the lowest ability classes
- Ball (1981) also found that teachers had high expectation for the highest ability classes
- these students received even more attention and encouragement, while those in the lower classes suffered from negative labelling and performed poorly
- setting and streaming can actually increase the difference in student achievement

- mixed-ability classes can avoid worsening gaps in pupil achievement, but studies have shown that teachers still hold low expectation for lower ability students, and often lower the level of their teaching to suit them
- this can mean that there isn't enough challenging work for the higher ability students

11 of 50

School Subcultures

- a subculture is a group who share ideas and behaviour patterns which are different from the mainstream culture
- two of the most commonly discussed subcultures are pro-school and anti-school
- there are many different subcultures within a school
- subcultures can have a positive or a negative effect on student achievement
- there is much debate about how and why students form subcultures within schools

- Lacey (1970) claimed that it was a result of streaming
- he conducted his study in a grammar school
- even though all pupils had been selected as "bright" at age 11, bottom stream pupils still formed an anti-school subculture, because they were labelled as failures

- Fuller (1984) looked at a group of black girls in year 11 at a comprehensive school
- they were high ability, but felt that their teachers were racist, so they didn't work hard for their teachers approval
- instead, they formed a subculture, worked alone and succeeded

Social Class
- Willis (1997) studied a group of boys who had formed an anti-school subculture
- he found that the 'lads' deliberately disrupted lessons as a way of gaining respect from others within the subculture
- he also observed that these boys were working-class and likely to get manual jobs after school
- they seemed to believe that school was of no use to them in the future

12 of 50

Identity and Pupils

- factors such as labelling, self-fulfilling prophecies, the organisation of teaching, and subcultures all have an impact on the achievement of school pupils, and it can be hard to work out the specific effects of each factor
- instead, considering a pupil's identity (how they view themselves and the way others view them) can be a way of bringing together all these factors, and thinking about them alongside factors outside of school, sucg as parental attitude and whether they're suffering from poverty or not

- for example, if a male pupil identifies himself as 'non-academic', this may have begun with a teacher label, but the biggest factor may now be a subculture of other, like-minded pupils, who are also non-academic
- he may choose to take a PE GCSE, because he thinks of it as a traditionally male subject and he's already in the top ability set, while adopting an anti-school attitude in English and history lessons
- at home, he may not have access to books that would help his English or history performance
- overall, the difference in his achievement in various subjects gets larger

- one disadvantage of studying pupil's identities is that they're very complex
- if a sociologist wants to study the effect of a specific process within school on achievement, then identity can make this difficult
- using the example above, if this student's achievement fell in history, it would be tricky to work out whether this was due to the set he was in, or one of the various factors that form his non-academic identity

13 of 50

Social Class

- pupils from professional backgrounds are significantly more likely to enter higher education then those from unskilled backgrounds
- pupils from m/c backgrounds are more likely to study for a-levels, whereas w/c pupils are more likely to take vocational qualifications
- pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds are less likely to start school being able to read
- pupils from unskilled backgrounds on average achieve lower scores on SATs and in GCSEs and are more likely to be placed in lower streams or sets

- some sociologists have suggested that different socio-economic groups have different relative IQs, and this accounts for discrepancies in educational attainment (Eysenck (1971) and others), but this is very controversial
- it is also difficult to work out whether or not any potential IQ differences would be more important to achievement than social factors

14 of 50

Processes Inside School

- negative labelling of students can lead to a self-fulfilling prophecy of failure
- Becker (1971) and Keddie (1971) say that teachers tend to evaluate pupils in comparison to an imaginary ideal student, by looking at their social class as well as appearance, personality and speech

- Ball (1981) found that the pupils in top streams tended to be from higher social classes

- as a response to negative labelling and frustration with low status, pupils may form anti-school subcultures
- Woods (1983) argues that there are lots of different reactions to school, but non-conformist reactions were more likely to come from working-class students

- these explanations are useful when looking at day-to-day experiences in schools
- the problem is that they don't explain how factors outside of school can influence achievement

15 of 50

Material Deprivation

- the theory of material deprivation says that economic poverty is a big factor in low achievement at school

- in 1997, the Joseph Rowntree Foundation classified one in ten children as poor, which was defined as being in a family that couldn't afford at least three things other families took for granted 

- Halsey (1980) found that the most important factor preventing working-class students staying on at school was a lack of financial support

- Douglas (1964) found that children in unsatisfactory living conditions didn't do very well in ability tests compared to kids from comfortable backgrounds

- unemployment or low income means less money for books, internet access and school trips
- low income families can't afford nurseries and private schools and they can't afford to support their kids through uni

- poverty and unsatisfactory living standards may cause health problems and absence from school

16 of 50

Cultural Deprivation

- the theory of cultural deprivation says that w/c culture and parenting aren't aimed at educational success

- Douglas (1964) thought the level of parental interest was the most important factor in affecting achievement
- For example, m/c parents are more likely to attend open evenings
- however, w/c parents may not go because they work inconvenient shifts and not because they aren't interested

- some sociologists say that w/c kids font have the knowledge and values that help achievment
- books, museum visits, home internet access and parental knowledge of education may help middle-class pupils to succeed

- some styles of parenting emphasise the importance of education more than others 

17 of 50


- Sugarman (1970) said that pupils from non-manual backgrounds and manual backgrounds have different outlooks
- the pupils from manual backgrounds lived for immediate gratification
- the pupils from non-manual backgrounds were ambitious and deferred their gratification (they invested time in studying and planned for the future)

- Leon Feinstein (2003) found that social class continued to have a significant impact on educational achievement 
- he argued that redistributive policies should carry on throughout a student's entire education, rather than being restricted to their pre-school years

- Hyman (1967) said that the values of the working class are a self-imposed barrier to improving their position
- he said that the working class tend to place a lower value on education

- material and cultural deprivation theories don't explain how factors inside school affect achievement
- cultural deprivation theory generalises a lot about differences between middle-class and working-class life 
- it ignores working-class families who do place a high value on education, and tends to assume that w/c families have no culture at all, or that w/c culture can't be relevant to school (ethnocentric (prioritising the values and culture of a particular group))
- the method may be unsound e.g. attending parents' evenings might not be a good measure of parential interest

18 of 50

Bernstein & Bourdieu

Bernstein (1970)
- found that working-class pupils in the east end of london weren't comfortable with the style of language required by school
- they used a restricted code (short forms of speech)
- middle-class students knew how to use the same elaborated code as the teachers (a much more wordy style of speech with everything made very explicit)
- in terms of language, the working-class kids were at a disadvantage

Bourdieu (1971, 1974)
- reckons middle-class students are at an advantafe because they have the right kind of "cultural capital" (the right skills, language, knowledge and attitudes)
- he thought that the more cultural capital you have, the more successful you'll be in education
- he also believed that working-class pupils don't have access to cultural capital
- middle-class families pass on cultural capital and expectations from parents to children (cultural reproduction)

19 of 50

Problems with Bernstein's and Bourdieu's Theories

- there are variations within the middle class and working class
- different sections of these groups vary in how they use the elaborate (posh) code
- some sociologists have developed his ideas to say w/c speech patterns are inferior or 'wrong' (controversial view)
- Labov (1973) thinks the elaborated speech code is just different

- Halsey et al (1980) found that material factors are important
- lack of money may stop kids staying on at school or getting to university
- not all working-class students fail, even if they don't have cultural capital

20 of 50

Ethic Groups

- chinese pupils are the highest achievers at GCSE
- indian pupils also perform above the national average
- students who are from mixed ethnicity backgrounds tend to perform above the national average at GCSE
- female black and male asian groups have some of the highest rates of students entering higher education
- bangladeshi pupils achieve above the national average at GCSE

- fewer black pupils get 5 A* - C passes at GCSE than any other major ethnic group
- roma, white and bangladeshi students are the least likely to continue into higher education

- there is likely more than one factor behind these statistics and some are probably social and economic
- some people say that intelligence is inherited

- however, IQ tests can be biased
- sometimes they ask things that aren't really a test of brains, but more a test of cultural knowledge
- the Swann Report (1985) found that if you took into account social and economic factors there were no significant differences in IQ whatsoever between different ethnic groups

21 of 50

Processes Inside School 2

Labelling Theory
- labelling theory says that teachers have different expectations of different ethnic groups
- Gillborn (1990) found that teachers sometimes negatively labelled black students
- African-Caribbean students were seen as a challenge to school authority & were more likely to be excluded from school
- Gillborn calls this the 'myth of the black challenge'
- teachers had high expectations of Asian students, which could lead to a self-fulfilling prophecy of success
- in contrast, negative labelling could result in a self-fulfilling prophecy of failure
School Curriculum
- the school curriculum could also be seen as ethnocentric (it might fit the mainstream, white, middle-class culture better than other ethnicities)
- it could be Europe-centred too
- languages in the national curriculum are mainly European (french and german) even though Mandarin Chinese is being taught more
- Assemblies, school holidays and history lessons may not fit with the culture and history of particular groups
Institutional Racism
- some sociologists see british education as 'institutionally racist'
- this is where policies and attitudes unintentionally discriminate against ethnic minority groups
- wright (1992) found 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 of (e.g. they might get told off for wearing a headscarf if it isn't part of the school uniform)
- african-caribbean boys were more likely to be punished and sent out of class

22 of 50

Processes Inside School 2B

- some sociologists say that these factors may lead to low self-esteem for ethnic minorities
- Coard (1971) said that black students are made to feel inferior in British Schools

- on the other hand, Mirza (1992) found that black girls had positive self-esteem and high aspirations
- the girls experienced discrimination but had strategies to minimise the effects of racism
- it was unwillingness to ask for help or choosing certain subjects which affected their achievement

23 of 50

Factors Outside School

- language can be a barrier for children from immigrant families whe the first arrive in the UK
- however, the Swann Report found that language didn't affect progess for later generations
- Driver and Ballard (1981) also found that Asian children whose first language was not english were as good at english as their classmates by the age of 16 
- labelling theorists would say that language might not be a barrier, but dialects or having an accent night influence teacher expectation and lead to negative labelling
- for example, a teacher might assume that a child isn't good at english because they have a foreign accent and put them in a lower set

- some studies say that family life varies for different groups and this can influence achievement
- Driver and Ballard (1981) say that the close-knit extended families and high parential expectations increase levels of achievement in Asian communities
- Archer and Francis (2006) found that Chinese parents saw education as hugely important and this seemed to create a desire for achievement in Chinese families
- some sociologists say the relatively high levels of divorce and single-parenthood in African-Caribbean households could result in material deprivation 
- on the other hand, the independence of African-Caribbean women can mean that girls get positive role models

24 of 50

Ethnicity & Material Deprivation

- the Swann Report found that socio-economic status was a factor in the lower levels of achievement of African-Caribbean pupils
- Pakistani, Bangladeshi and African-Caribbean groups are more likely to be in lower class positions such as routine occupations and elementary occupations
- this may result in poor housing, periods of unemployment, poverty and material deprivation
- Chinese, African-Asian and Indian groups are more likely to be in higher class positions and less likely to experience material deprivation

- some recent studies have claimed that prejudice in society may recontribute to these lower class positions
- research by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation found that ethnic minority workers in low-paid jobs often face barriers to promotion

- FSM are given to children from families on certain financial benefits, so they can be a good indicator of material deprivation
(- ethnic group - % of pupils at end of KS4 entitled to FSM) (2012-2013)
- Bangladeshi - 38.5% 
- Pakistani - 28.0%
- Indian - 9.7%
- Chinese - 7.4%

25 of 50

Gender and Differential Educational Achievement

- boys used to outperform girls at school in the UK & this had a lot to do with the fact that female education was seen as less important for much of history
- however, there has been a shift, and now it's boys who are falling behind
- girls get better results in primary school national curriculum tests
- girls get better results in nearly every subject at GCSE
- girls are more likely to pass their a-levels
- more women than men go on to university in the UK

26 of 50

Factors Inside School

- Mitsos and Browne (1998) say teaching has been feminised
- women are more likely to be classroom teachers, especially in primary schools, which gives girls positive role models

- textbooks and teaching resources have changed and are less likely to stereotype girls into passive roles

- the national curriculum forced girls to do traditionally 'male' subjects
- for example, more girls started to do science
- other local education authority and government initiatives tried to encourage girls to do these subjects e.g. WISE (women in science and engineering) and GIST (girls into science and technology)

- Swabb and Graddol (1993) think that high female achievement is a result of the quality of interaction they have with their teachers 
- most of the time teachers spend with girls is used to help with their work but most teacher time spent with boys is focused on behaviour management

- Jackson (1998) says that schools label boys negatively
- boys are associated with poor behaviour, which gives the school a bad name, and with low achievement, which lowers the school's league table position
- this negative label becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy

27 of 50

Factors Inside School 2

- Archer (2006) argues that the current underachievement by boys in education masks the continuing problems that girls still face
- she claims that high-achieving Asian and Chinese girls get negatively labelled by teachers as robots who are incapable of independent thought
- she also argues that black working-class girls are negatively labelled as loud and aggressive
- she concludes that the ongoinf achievement of girls is 'fragile and problematic'

28 of 50

Factors Outside School

- some sociologists argue that girls are socialised into ways of behaving that are well-suited to classroom environments; to be quieter, to listen to authority figures and to read a lot

- policies such as the equal pay act (1971) and sex discrimination (1975) act have helped to create more equal opportunities in the wider society
- this has changed the values of society and attitudes within schools

- Sue Sharpe (1994) found that girls' priorities have changed and they now want careers and qualifications
- more women go out to work, so girls see positive role models in work
- women now want to be financially independent

- the feminist movement caused a change in female expectations, and made more people aware of inequality
- people are now more careful about negative stereotyping, sex discrimination and patriarchy

- changes in the labour market have created job opportunities for women
- since the 1970s, there has been a continual increase in the size of the service sector (jobs like healthcare and retail), which is traditionally female-dominated, and a shrinking of the primary sector (e.g. farming and mining), which are traditionally male-dominated

- changes in family structure have changed female aspirations
- on average, women now marry and have children later in life, so they can pursue a career first
- there's also been a move towards more equal roles within households, partly as a result of the feminist movement, so that women are more ablse to seek work outside of the home

29 of 50

Reasons Why Some Boys Underachieve

- boys may be having an identity crisis
- the rise of female independence, the decline of the breadwinner role for men and the rise in male unemployment might mean that boys don't see the point of education
- this may lead to anti-school subcultures

- interpretivists say that teachers have lower expectations of boys 
- teacher expectations may lead to a self-fulfilling prophecy of poor behaviour
- negative labelling may explain why they're more disruptive
- boys are more likely to be excluded from school

- the feminisation of teaching means that boys don't have as many role models in the classroom

- reading can be seen as 'girly'
- boys who avoid books may not develop vital communication skills

30 of 50


- negative labelling and putting students into different streams or sets can cause some pupils to rebel against the school's values
- they form subcultures which can either be pro-school or anti-school

- in the 1970s Willis looked at why working-class kids get working-class jobs
- he studied a group of boys later called 'Willis's Lads'
- the lads rejected school and formed an anti-school subculture
- they coped with their own underachievement by having a subculture where education doesn't matter, and where having a laugh was more important

- Mac an Ghaill (1994) says that subcultures are complicated
- there are lots of different types
- boys may join a macho lad subculture because of a crisis of masculinity
- but boys could also join pro-school subcultures and be proud of academic achievement

- Fuller (1980) studied a group of African-Caribbean girls in London who formed a subculture that worked hard to prove negative labelling wrong

31 of 50

Gender and Subject Choice

- girls tend to choose essay-based A levels such as english and RE
- boys tend to go for technical ones like maths and physics

- subject choice may still be influenced by gender socialisation
- the ideas of femininity and masculinity can create different expectations and stereotypes of what pupils should study

- Kelly (1987) found that science is seen as a masculine subject & boys tend to dominate the science classroom

- parental expectations may encourage students to follow what they see as the traditional normal choice for their gender
- there's a pressure to conform to a social norm

- teachers may also have an effect on subject choice
- most physics teachers are male, for example, meaning that there are more male than female role models within this subject

32 of 50

1944 Education Act

- before WW2, many poor people couldn't afford secondary education because it wasn't free
- the 1944 Act (Butler Act) made secondary schools free for all and raised the leaving age to 15
- you took the 11+ exam at the end of primary schol anf then went to one of three types of school:

- grammar schools were for the able kids who passed the 11+
- pupils were taught traditional subjects ready for university
- about 20% of kids got in to grammar school

- secondary modern schools were for the 75-80% of  pupils who failed the 11+
- they offered basic education

- technical schools were meant to provide a more vocational education for those pupils with aptitude for practical subjects

33 of 50

The Tripartite System

- the tripartite system aimed to improve the education of all children, but there were several problems

- the 11+ didn't necessarily measure your intelligence
- it was culturally biased, and suited the middle class more than the working class
- it legitimised social class inequality, by incorporating it into a system

- few technical schools were built, so the vocational part of the plan didn't work that well
- most children ended up either at grammar or secondary modern schools
- these schools were supposed to have 'parity of esteem' (having equal value) but grammar schools were seen as the best

- kids who failed the 11+ were labelled as failures, which sometimes turned them off education

- if well-off middle-class pupils failed, their parents could still afford to send them to private schools

34 of 50

1965 Comprehensive System

- the Labour government insisted that local education authorities reorganised most schools so that everyone had equality of opportunity
- comprehensive - universal, everyone gets the same chances

- there's no 11+, so 80% of the school population don't get labelled as failures
- high ability pupils still generally do well with this system
- lower ability pupils tend to do better in comprehensive schools than in the old secondary moderns

- most comprehensive schools still sort pupils into streams or sets depending on test schore, so it's still possible to feel like a failure without the 11+
- comprehensives in working-class areas have worse GCSE results than those in middle-class areas

- comprehensive schooling hasn't achieved equality of opportunity
- schools tend to be 'single-class', depending on the local area
- where people can afford to live (and how good the local schools are) is important in educational attainment

35 of 50

1976 Push for Vocational Education

- in 1976, labour prime minister James Callagham made a speech saying the british education and industry was in decline because schools didn't teach people the skills they needed in work
- all governments since then have had policies designed to create a closer link between school and work (vocationalism)

- Youth Training Schemes (1983) were job training schemes for school leavers aged 16-17
- NVQs (1986) and GNVQs (1992) were practical qualifications
- the New Deal (1998) meant people on benefits had to attend courses if they didn't accept work

- some sociologists argue that vocational education aims to teach good work discipline, not skills
- some marxist sociologists say that vocational training provides cheap labour and that governments encourage people into training schemes to lower unemployment statistics
- vocational qualifications often aren't regarded as highly as academic qualifications by universities and employers 
- some feminist sociologists argue that vocational qualifications force girls into traditionally 'female' jobs, such as beautician and childminder

36 of 50

1988 Education Act

- the conservative government introduced some major reforms in education
- these reforms were based on new right ideas, so they were focused on:
- widening choice within the education system
- encouraging more competition to create a 'market' in schools (marketisation)
- the government introduced more vocational courses and more work placement schemes to link education to the economy

- to improve standards, the government introduced a national curriculum of compulsory subjects for all 5 to 16 year olds
- english, maths and science (core subjects) had to be given more space in the timetable
- OFSTED was set up to inspect schools and make sure they were doing a good job
- schools could opt out of their local education authority and become grant-maintained schools
- this eans that they got money straight from the government and could spend it how they wanted as the government believed this would improve standards

- to increase choice and competition, parents could choose which school to send their child to (if the school had space)
- parents could use league tables to help them choose
- league tables show how many kids at each school pass their exams, and how many get good grades 
- schools worked like businesses and advertised for students
- David (1993) called this a 'parentocracy' because the power in education is held by the parents

- the conservative government also decided to increase testing and exams, so they introduced SATs at 7, 11 and 14 and then GCSEs at 16
- the results could be used to form league tabels and to monitor school standards

37 of 50

Criticisms of the 1988 Education Reform Act

- sociologists like Whitty (1998) argue that midde-class parents have an advantage in an educational market
- since they are more likely to have succeeded in education themselves, they have the knowledge and attitudes to choose a good school for their child
- they may also have the financial capital to move to an area with better schools
- increasing parental choice can actually reinforce social class inequality

- constant testing can be stressful for students, and can encourage labelling and self-fulfilling prophecies

- Ball (1995) claimed that the new national curriculum was the 'curriculum of the dead' because its emphasis on the core subjects was outdated

38 of 50

New Labour & Third Way Ideas

- when new labour came into power, they wanted to do something about educational inequality but also wanted choice and diversity; this approach is called the 'third way politics'
- it was like combing the old labour policies of state intervention with the new right policies of marketisation

- new labour continued the process of marketisation
- they allowed schools to specialise in certain subjects to try and create diversity and increase choice for parents
- they also allowed faith schools to be set up

- agencies were given contracts for things like improving reading and writing in primary schools
- new labour claimed that this would improve efficiency and standards, because the contracts were competitive, but some people argue that the privatisation of education takes too much control away from schools

- the government also pursued some interventionist policies such as reducing infant class sizes to a maximum of 30, introducing numeracy hour and literacy hour in primary schools and trying to increase the number of people going to university

- they also introduced the Curriculum 200
- this was to make a level education broader & a vocational a level was introduced which was intended to be of equal worth to an academic a level
- key skills qualifications were also launched, and were supposed to be useful for all jobs

39 of 50

Policies Aimed at Promoting Gender Equality

- the 1988 national curriculum gave all pupils equal entitlement to all subjects for the first time
- this has been credited with the increased achievement of girls in the last 20 years
- initiatives such as the computer club for girls (CC4G), women into science and engineering (WISE) and girls into science and technology (GIST) encourage girls to get involved with subjects they have traditionally avoided

- in 1999 the government gave grants to primary schools to hold extra writing classes for boys to help push up their SAT scores
- in 2005 the Breakthrough Programme introduced mentoring, after-school classes and e-tutorials for teenage boys in an attempt to improve their exam performance

40 of 50

Policies Aimed to Reduce Class Inequality

- compulsory education tries to make up for material and cultural deprivation, by giving extra help to those who need it (interventionist approach)
- new labour introduced several compulsory policies during their time in power

- sure start began in 1999
- it was a government programme to improve early education and childcare in England, and offered up to two years of free childcare and early education to all three and four year olds

- the education maintenance allowance gave up to £30 per week to students who stayed on in education post 16
- a series of bonuses were available for good attendance and progress
- EMAs were mean tested so only children from poorer families could benefit from it

- education action zones were introduced in 1998 as a way of tackling educational inequality by area
- local public, private and voluntary organisations worked together and combined their resources to try to raise standards

- free school meals and breakfast clubs also aimed to reduce class inequality

- the academies programme opened new schools in disadvantaged areas where existing schools were judged to be 'failing'
- they were run in partnership with local business sponsors to try to improve performance

41 of 50

Criticisms of New Labour Policies

- however, sociologists such as Benn (2012) have criticised New Labour because their policies aimed at reducing educational inequality seemed to be inconsistent with policies that threatened to increase it

- for example, they introduced uni fees of £1000 per year in 1998, and increased them to £3000 in 2004

- these fees are a barrier to higher education for many working class students

- therefore, Benn calls this the 'new labour paradox' as the policies were too contradictory

42 of 50

Privatisation and Marketisation

- the coalition changed the academies programme 
- any school classed as outstanding by ofsted could apply to become an academy without a sponsor
- failing schools were made into sponsored academies
- the increasing numbers of schools run by private organisations means that the privitisation of the education system has advanced

- they also introduced free schools, which are set up by groups of parents, teachers or religious groups and don't have to teach the national curriculum
- the government hoped that this would provide more choice in disadvantaged areas

- under education secretary michael gove, there were also changes to the national curriculum:
~ a levels were changed to a linear structure and all exams had to be taken at the end of the course
~ coursework and modular exams were removed at GCSE
- more formal grammar was introduced in the primary english curriculum

- the government also introduced the pupil premium, which provided extra funding for schools with students on free school meals
- the funding was supposed to be spent on improving the educational experience of these pupils

43 of 50

Criticisms of Coalition Education Policies

- critics say that, in some disadvantaged areas, the academies and free schools attract all the best teachers, which undermines other local schools

- it is difficult to track whether pupil premium funding is actually being spent on disadvantaged pupils, or whether it is being absorbed into the whole school budget

- the maximum tuition fees in higher education increased to £9000 per year
- this can be seen as socially exclusive, because it's also increased the loans that most students need
- this debt can be off-putting for working-class students

44 of 50

Globalisation & Education

- globalisation is the idea that traditional national boundaries are breaking down across the world, as people become more connected by improving technology, multinational companies and increased migration

- the british economy needs to be competitive in global industries like technology, so british workers need to be highly trained 
- this has an impact on education policy e.g. computer programming has been introduced to the primary school curriculum

- increased immigration to the UK has meant that there's a heavier focus on learning about other cultures
- schools also need to provide specialist support for pupils whose first language is not english

- educational ideas are shared between nations
- UK politicians have been influenced by countries such as Finland, whose education system is ranked very highly (5th in the world for science, 6th for reading)
- however, Kelly (2009) has warned that as education systems become increasingly similar, they'll become less relevant to the needs of individual nations

45 of 50

Unstructured Interviews & Anti School Subcultures

- students who are part of this may not want to talk about their school lives
- using an unstructued interview would allow the researcher to build up a rapport with the students, potentially giving greater insight into their thoughts and feelings

- school may be a sensitive topic for these students
- unstructured interviews are good for investigating sensitive issues, because the researcher doesn't have to stick to a fixed questionnaire
- they can change their approach to gain the trust of the students and make them feel more comfortable

- unstructured interviews are likely to offer greater validity than questionnaires because they give the interviewer a chance to adapt their questioning to the subject
- for example, if a student struggles to understand a question, the researcher can explain it

- anti-school subcultures can cause disruptive behaviour in the classroom, as students encourage each other to misbehave
- using unstructured interviews would mean that students could be interviewed away from this peer pressure
- this gives them more time to reflect on the issues and give a more valid repsonse

- examples include Willis' study of pupil subcultures and Labov's linguistic deprivation study

46 of 50

Covert Participant Observation to Investigate Labe

- teachers often label students without realsing they're doing it, so they may not mention it in an interview or questionnaire
~ being a participant would allow the researcher to oberve labelling in a natural, real-life setting

- teachers probably wouldn't want to be seen to label their students, so they might deliberately avoid doing it if they knew this was the issue being studied
~ by observing covertly, the researcher could get more valid data

- misleading teachers counts as deception, which could be considered to be ethically incorrect
~ it may also be difficult to find a good enough reason to gain access to a school, and using a cover would also be ethically questionable

- the researcher may become too familiar with the teachers and find it hard to analyse them objectively
~ the researcher may even start to label the students themselves, so they stop recognising that teachers are doing it

- the research couldn't be exactly repeated, so it isn't as reliable as questionnaires (for example)
~ covert participant observation also has to be conducted with a smallr sample, which makes the data less representative

47 of 50

Closed Questionnaires & Parental Attitudes

- questionnaires can be used to collect a large amount of data very quickl
- this means that lots of parents could be surveyed, which would make the results more representative

- parents may be more honest about their attitudes towards education if they can complete a private questionnaire, rather than talking to an interviewer
- for example, if their attitude towards education is negative they may be unwilling to speak about this in person

- the study could be easily repeated, making the data more reliable
- this could be useful for investigating the changes in parental attitudes over time

48 of 50

Closed Questionnaires & Parental Attitudes 2

- respondents can easily lie about their true attitudes
- this will make the data less valid

- using closed questions doesn't allow the respondent to explain their answer
- it might not be a suitable method for researching attitudes to education, which are often complex

- if parents associate the questionnaire with the school, then the researcher may find that the questionnaire is mostly completed by those with a positive attitude towards education
- this would skew the sample, making it less representative, so the data would be less vaild

49 of 50

Official Statistics & Mixed Ability Teaching

- using hard statistics would be a reliable source of secondary data, because they're objective
- schools can't adjust them to portray mixed-ability teaching in either a positive or negative way

- stats can be easily compared because they're a form of quantitative data
- for example, the outcomes of mixed ability classes could be compared for different genders, age groups and schools
- they could also be compared over time

- if soft stats are used, the researcher would have to be careful that the data was valid
- it could have been adjusted by schools to show more success than the truth

- OS don't offer as much insight into the reasons behind achievement as other methods like unstructured interviews

- at selective schools, the variation in abilities in mixed classes would be less great than at non-selective schools, so this could skew the data

50 of 50


No comments have yet been made

Similar Sociology resources:

See all Sociology resources »See all Education resources »