sociology and education

  • Created by: Helly
  • Created on: 01-06-10 16:13

1870 - 1918

1870 Forster Act - tried to fill in the gaps with state run education to make sure children had access to education up untill the age of 10. In 1880 this was made compulsary.

1918 Fisher Education Act - attendence to secondary school was made compulsary untill the age of 14


Made education more equal by providing some sort of education untill 14. However poor children would leave education at 14 with no qualifications and their education was not geared towards their future working life.

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1944 Butler Education Act - Every child had to go to primary school from 5 - 11. At 11 everyone must take the 11+ examination (an IQ test). Based on the 11+ children would be sent to one of three types of school

Those who passed (20%) - Grammar school. Academically able, given academic education.

Those who did not pass (75%) - Secondary modern school. Not academically able, given a basic non-academic education.

Others (5%) - Technical school. Sat voluntary exams at 12. If they passed, did education geared towards industry.

The idea behind this system was that everybody had the same chance to go to a school best suited to their abilities. "Different, but equal" was the slogan used at the time.

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1965 - 1979

Development Of Comprehensive - everybody went to the same school in local catchment area. Everybody was taught the same material regardless of ability. Qualifications for less able were introduced (CSE). There were still some private and grammar schools.


Opportunities remain open, late developers benefit, more get better qualifications, more social mixing and fewer social divisions, reduced risk of the self fulfilling prophecy and benefits for working class students improves equality of opportunity. However high flighers are held back.

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1979 - 1997

The New Right - New Vocationalism - this was a response to a rise in youth unenployment during the 1970's. Young people leaving school did not have the skills required to meet the needs of employers.

Training Schemes - the YTS (youth training scheme) was introduced in 1983. It was a one year, work-based training scheme for school leavers. As part of the scheme they could also take vocational qualifications.

Vocational Qualifications - NVQ's and BTECs were set up in 1986 for a range of specific occuplations. Also GNVQ's were created for those who wanted to keep their options open.


Youth unemployment is due to a lack of jobs not training and this is a problem with the economy not education. Many trainees spent their time running errands rather than learning relevant skills. M/C students normally avoided YTS's because they saw it as the second best option to staying on at school or college. Vocational qualifications are often viewed as being inferior to academic qualifications.

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Education Reform Act (Marketisation) - the best way to improve a system without putting any money into it is marketisation. This meant schools would be placed into competition with eachother to drive up standards.

  • Formula Funding - the finance of the school was based upon the number of pupils enrolling as money is allocated per pupil.
  • Parental Choice - parents were given the choice of which school they sent their child to. This encouraged competition between schools.
  • League Tables - published to inform parents of each schools performance in terms of the standard exam results and its oftsted report
  • SATS and attainment targets - introduced for children aged 7,11 and 14. At 16 the old O Level and CSE examinations were combined and became GCSE's
  • National Curriculum - all schools had to teach the same subjects between 5 and 16. All students had to study maths, english and science. Some subjects became optional (history, art, geography etc)
  • Ofsted - conducts inspections of all state schools, FE colleges and LEA's at least once every six years. Reports are published and weaknesses have to be addressed.
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  • City Technology Colleges (CTC's) - colleges in the city that specialised in technology. They catered for children from ages 11-18.
  • Schools funded directly from the government - gave the responsibility of the schools budget to the head teachers and governors.


Parents had more choice over their children's education and now could chose which school to send their children to. Schools now controlled their own funding so they could direct the money thay they recieved to the specific areas they needed to develop. The ethic of competition did drive up standards in some schools without costing the government much money. The National Curriculum meant that girls were made to do subjects that in the past they might have avoided e.g. maths and science.

However, the competition between schools created a system of successful schools that had the means to continue to improve, while unsuccessful schools found it difficult to escape a spiral of decline. Successful instituations became over subscribed. Schools only wanted to recruit children who would achieve good exam results.

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1997 - 2008

Labour's Education Policy - the key ideas behind the policies were increased equality of opportunity and diversity, to drive up standards and also to give parents more choice.

EAZ's - Educational Action Zones. Areas of deprivation, given additional money for education to counter the deprivation. Free nursery education from the age of three is also meant to combat deprivation.

Literacy and Numeracy hours - everyday in primary schools. Helped out children from the most deprived backgrounds and gave them key skills.

Beacon schools - the best schools in the country achieved beacon status and got additional funding.

Faith schools - the provision of religious schools (catholic, C of E, etc) have been encouraged and expanded in numbers and type, because they tend to achieve better exam results.

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Specialist schools - 85% of secondary schools are now specialist schools. Introduced to drive up standards and increase diversity. Specialises in the provision of a certain subject and are allowed to select 10% of their students on the grounds of aptitude and are additionally funded.

Special measures - Ofsted were given the power to put failing schools into special measures. If they continued to fail they would be shut down and reopened as city acadamies.

Leaving age rised - The age which children can leave full time education was raised to 18

EMA, University Fees and Vocational Education.


increased parental choice and raised standards in education.

However; m/c students favoured in some institutions.

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The central functions of education -

  • it's a form of socialisation where by we learn the norms and values of society
  • it promotes value consensus
  • it is a source of social solidarity and gives us a sense of belonging to society
  • it promotes the idea that education is meritocratic and you will be compared to other people in society in terms of your merits
  • it allocates us to social and job roles that we are best suited to
  • it equips individuals with the skills and knowledge required by the workplace and economy

Emilie Durkheim (1858 - 1917) - believed that for society to operate the individuals needed value consensus. Education was one of the institutions that plays a vital role in teaching us societys norms and values. Education is a form of socialisation. Education contributes to social solidarity by teaching us our national heritage.

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Talcott Parsons (1902 - 1979) - agreed with Durkheim on many issues but extended his ideas. Saw education as a bridge between childhood and the adult world. When we are children our status is ascribed - we are judged as special because our parents tell us we are. When we are adults our status must be achieved and we are compared to others in terms of our merits. So education moves us from paticularistic standards to universalistic standards. It does this by constantly comparing us via examinations and testing. Education also allocates us to roles and we learn what our strengths and weaknesses are.


Explains education in all cultures and attemps to illustrate the links between education and other elements of the social system, in particular the economy. There is evidence to back up both studies.

However, there is not one single set of values that exist. Education does not operate on a meritocratic system, not all groups in society have an equal chance of succeeding regardless of their ability.

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School is like work -

  • it justifies class inequality. It creates the ideology that capitalism is just and reasonable. It explains why the rich are rich and the poor are poor. It gives workers the idea that there is no choice in this and makes them accept their subordinate position. It makes the poor passively accept their future roles: to produce a compliant, doctile and obedient workforce.
  • it reproduces the class system. it makes the rich children succeed and the poor children fail, generation on generation.

Bowles & Gintis (1976) schooling in capitalist america - the main function of education is to provide a labour force. correspondence principle (the social relationships in school are similar to those in the workplace). School mirrors the workplace by producing a doctile, obedient and unquestioning workforce. This is done via the hidden curriculum - it is not the content of the lessons that is important, it is the individuals' socialisation into teacher and student roles. Education and the hidden curriculum shape the workforce by:

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  • producing a workforce
  • acceptance oh heirarchy
  • external rewards
  • fragmentation
  • social inequality


They did research in schools.

However, they see the teacher as an agent of capitalism and the pupil as a victim. In reality many teachers are trying to change the system. Not all students are the passive recipients of dominant ideologies. The workplace and school may not be as closely linked as Bowles & Gintis suggest.

Willis (1977) learning to labour - studies twelve working class males who he calls 'the lads' for eighteen months during their final year in school and their first few months in work. He found that the lads adopted an 'anti-school culture' meaning that they usually did the opposite of what the school wanted them to do. They were bored and

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had no respect for teachers or hardworking students and were racist and sexist. Didnt want qualification because they only wanted manual jobs, school was just to have 'a laugh'. More interested in leisure activities which included drinking and smoking and they all had part-time jobs. After school they treated their employers the same as their teachers. Work was boring so they had 'a laff' when they could - this is called shop-floor culture. Willis believes that by rejecting the values of the school they are ensuring that they will only get mmanual jobs, ensuring both the working class and the capitalist system are reproduced because there is a new generation of workers to be exploited.


participant observation - valid in depth data.

However, limited sample (only 12 boys). Ignored other school sub-cultures. Out of date.

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Mismatch between what education SHOULD and what it DOES do:

should: be about fulfilling your potential, developing the areas that individuals are interested in and have ability in.

does: turn individuals into passive consumers and creates inequalities in society.

Illich (1971) 'De-schooling society' - unhappy with compulsary education, viewed it as a kind of prison that keeps potentially troublemaking young people off the streets and allows their parents to work. Students are viewed as mugs to be filled from a teachers' jug, often with information which is irrelevant to them. The hidden curriculum turns students into passive, unquestioning, conformist, mindless consumers that are easily controlled by the government or other authorities. His solution: 'de-schooling society' - get rid of schools and compulsary education. Everybody should have educational vouchers to use to learn things they are interested in.

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Illich's ideas are very radical, with the advent of the internet they are mostly much more realistic now.

However, his ideas are naive - believes that by changing schooling you can solve all problems in education. You cannot just change education, you need to change the whole of society.

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Class And Differential Achievement

Class - a way of dividing groups in society up by their socio-economic status. Sociologists generally measure class by occupation.

Children from working class backgrounds are:

  • Less likely to be found in nursery schools
  • More likely to fall behind in literacy and numeracy
  • More likely to be placed in lower sets
  • More likely to leave school at 16
  • Less likely to stay on to further education
  • Less likely to be found in Higher education (1 in 5 w/c children continue to university)
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External factors

  • Intelligence

In the past many researchers believed that the middle class did better in education due to differing intelligence levels. This was largely based on ideas generated from IQ testing in the 20th century.

However, IQ tests are biased in favour of m/c children, they lack validity and don't show intelligence and it is hard to define intelligence and class so it is impossible to link the two.

Many sociologists have totally dismissed the idea that differential achievement in the classes is caused by intelligence.

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  • Home / Family Background

- Material deprivation (means that children do not have the money and resources that would give them an advantage in education). Some sociologists have suggested that a lack of money or poverty could be the reason why w/c children do worse in education.

Halsey, Heath and Ridge (1980) 'Origins and Destinations' - examined the education of 8500 men between the years of 1913 and 1947. Divided their sample into three class groupings from working class to service class. 3/4 of w/c left school at the minimum leaving age. Suggested that the underlying reason for this was a lack of money to stay on in education.


They had a big representative sample.

However, it is out of date and gender bias (only men)

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Douglas (1964) 'The Home and School' - examined educational pathways of 5362 children born in first week of march 1946. Divided the sample into two groups: those who lived in satisfactory conditions (use of hot water and an indoor bathroom toilet) and those in unsatisfactory conditions. Unsatisfactory group had lower educational abilities and this increased with time.


Big, representative sample

However, it is out of date and the sample is biased (all born in the same week)

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Smith and Nobel (1995) 'Poverty and Schooling in the 1990's' - suggest that more affluent children can give their children advantages:

  • Provide educational toys, private tuition, a superior diet etc.
  • Can afford to get their children to travel to better schools, or even move house closer to better schools.
  • Can more easily afford the hidden costs of education (uniforms, school trips, equipment)
  • Grants given to poorer children have been dramatically cut and the amount for free school dinners does not cover the cost of a healthy meal


Up to date

However, they did no research.

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- Cultural Deprivation (the idea that working classes do not have the language or values needed to do well in education, so are placed at a disadvantage)

Bernstein - w/c speak in restricted code and m/c in elaborative code. Education is conducted in elaborative code, so m/c have an advantage.

Douglas - says a key factor in differences in educational achievement and class was due to parental interest. He suggested that m/c parents were more likely to visit their children's schools and encourage children to stay on in education. W/c parents demonstrated little interest in their children's education. Measured parental interest in terms of the number of visits parents made to the school and the teachers' opinions of the parents.

However, w/c parents are more likely to do shift work, they may not be able to afford childcare for younger children and possibly had a bad experience at school themselves so simply didn't want to return.

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Hyman (1960) - suggested that difference in class and educational achievement is due to differences in values and attitudes. Carried out research and concluded that the w/c imposed a barrier on ever improving their position in life because of their values and attitudes. W/c understand they have little chance of achieving anything other than w/c employment and view high status occupations as risky and requiring a lot of investment and this limited ambition means they consequently place little value on formal education. These values act as a self imposed barrier which means the w/c will do worse in education

Sugarman (1970) - expanded on hyman's ideas. Suggested that differential achievement was linked to differences in attitudes held by w/c and m/c. The w/c have a subculture and it is fatalistic, collectivistic, present time orientated and they are unable to defer gratification and this is why they fail in education.


Cultural deprivation is a concept so it might not exist. Research has suggested there is little difference between w/c and m/c normals and values. Based on questionnaires and interviews - may not be reliable or valid.

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Compensatory education - can combat material and cultural deprivation. There has been a long history of governments trying to address differential education among classes caused by material and cultural deprivation via compensatory education. For example, EMA, sure start schemes and Education Priority Zones. (refers to educational reform - new labour)

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- situational and cultural difference (the class structure itself and cultural factors)

Boudon (1974) positional theory - believed that the reason w/c and m/c do differently is due to the point that they start at. M/c students probably come from a professional background with degree educated parents and are simply maintaining their position and end up doing well and going to university. However, for a w/c student to do this they would have to improve their position and with this comes the problem of leaving your roots and being uncomfortable in your old background.

Bordieu (1977) cultural capital - (the knowledge, attitudes, tastes, values and likes of the middle class). Education is based around this culture which the m/c are socialised into before even entering education, whereas it is new to w/c children. He believed this put m/c children at an advantage. Although w/c culture is diverse and rich, the education system seems to fail to be receptive to this culture and devalues it.


supporting evidence and it is positive about w/c culture. However, CC- a weakly defined concept that may not exist and over exaggerates differences between w/c & m/c.

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Internal Factors

- The Labelling Theory

Teachers often attach labels to students on the basis of stereotypical assumptions about a students background. One explanation of why w/c students do worse is that they end up having negative labels attached to them. This brings about a halo effect and self fulfilling prophecy.

Rosenthal and Jacobson (1968) pygmalion in the classroom - field experiment. Elementary school in California. Gave IQ tests to children and gave the teachers names of 20% of them, saying these 'spurters' would make above average academic progress (however the 20% were randomly selected). At the end of the year the children were retested and most of the 20% had made above average progress. Concluded that the teachers had accepted the label which had been put on the 20%. They had given that group more encouragement through words, facial expressions, body language etc. This produced a self-fulfilling prophecy.

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Supporting evidence for the labelling theory

Howard Becker - interviewed 60 high school teachers in Chicago, finding they classified their pupils according to a common mental picture of an "ideal student". Children from w/c backgrounds tended to be furthest away from their ideal regardless of actual academic ability or behaviour.

Rist - observed kindergartens. Within 8 days of their school experience, the children had been divided into different tables of ability. Those ready to learn were 'tigers' and those not were 'clowns'. Rist examined these groupings further and found that they were not based on ability, but more on the degree to which students conformed to the teacher's m/c standards

- Setting and Streaming

Gilborn and Youdel (2001) - since marketisation schools are only interested in students passing 5 A-C's at GCSE and carry out an educational triage meaning students are sorted into 'those who will pass anyway', 'those with potential' and 'the hopeless'.

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W/c pupils pupils were more likely to be percieved by the teachers as not able to achieve 5 A-C at GCSE 'the hopeless' and were placed into lower sets and would be entered for lower tier gcses or vocational qualifications denying them the chance to achieve. It also could bring about SFP and anti-school subcultures where they fail.

- Anti-School Subcultures

(Refer to Willis (1977) - learning to labour - marxist)

- School Policies

W/c pupils could do worse due to marketisation and the effect this had on the educational system. W/c pupils end up in poorer schools as successful schools can be more selective ad they have lots of students and therefore lots of funding.

Bartlett (1993) - schools cream skin (select high ability m/c pupils as they usually do well and are cheap to teach) and slit shift (offload w/c pupils or pupils with special needs as they tend to fail and cost more to teach)

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So successful schools continue to do well ad do their m/c students, where w/c students tend to go to unsuccessful schools and fail because the more successful schools have used things like tough study contacts, expensive uniforms to discourage them.

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Ethnicity and differential achievement

Ethnicity - refers to belonging to a cultural group, sometimes but not always linked to race.

**Pakistani, Bangladeshi, Afro-Caribbean and Black African students tend to do worse than the white majority at GCSE, whereas Chinese and Indian students tend to do better**

External Factors

- Intelligence

Eysenck and Jensen - suggested that blacks are generally less intelligent than whites, using IQ scores as a measure. They both refute the idea that environmental factors are involved. Also suggest that blacks and whites of similar income levels and occupational statuses on average still have lower IQ scores.

However, The Swann Report (1985) found that after social and economic factors were controlled there were no significant differences in IQ scores between racial groups.

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- Material Deprivation and Class

some sociologist suggest that some ethnic minorities do worse in education because they are disproportionately w/c and therefore more likely to experience poverty and material deprivation.

Flaherty (2004) - pakistani and bangladeshi are three times more likely than whites to be in the poorest fifth of the population. Unemployment is three times higher for African and Bangladeshi/Pakistani individuals compared to whites. 15% of ethnic minority households live in overcrowded conditions compared to 2% of white households. Ethnic minorities are more likely to do shift work, unskilled or semi skilled work and be badly paid. This could be linked to racism in wider society. Many Bangladeshi and Pakistani families do not have dual incomes as women do not work.

Swann Report (1985) - suggests 50% of achievement differences and ethnicity are to do with class, as the ethnic groups that do worse are from the lowest classes.

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However, when we compare pupils of the same social class but from different ethnic backgrounds, there are still differences in achievement. For example, m/c back children tend to do worse than w/c white children at GCSE.

Also, by just looking at class, we are underestimating the importance of factors such as cultural deprivation.

- Cultural Deprivation - many of the factors needed for high educational achievement are lacking in the culture (values, attitudes and even language) of certain groups.

Some sociologists have suggested that the home and family life may bring about underachievements.

Murray (1984) - new right thinker believes that black children fail in education because they are more likely to be from a single parent family. This lack of a positive male role model for black boys leads them to underachieve in education.

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Pryce (1979) - believed that black culture is less resistant to living in a racist society so black children have low self esteem and fail. Also says that West Indian family life is turbulent. Parents were viewed as not encouraging their children to do well in school and that they did not provide as much stimulation through interaction and toys as well as white parents did, leading to educational failure.

Taylor (1981) - argued that although African-Caribbean parents did want their children to do well, they often lack an understanding of the importance of play, toys and child/parent interaction in the early years of development. There were higher than the average number of single parent families in the African-Caribbean community and that children can often be placed with child minders who give a low quality of care and stunt the children's educational development.

However, The Swann Report indicated that the close knit and supportive nature of many asian communities helps explain why some asian students do well in school. Driver and Ballard (1981) - suggest that being a member of an asian community is an advantage in education due to the attitudes of asian parents in relation to education.

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- Language Barriers

For many ethnic minorities, English is not their first language, and this can be a barrier to education.

Labov - pointed out, for some ethnic minorities, standard english may not be their first language or the language they use at home. This may leave children unprepared for the middle class english they experience at school. It may be the teachers' reactions to these different language codes rather than the codes themselves.

However, Driver and Ballard (1981) found that Asian children whose main home language was not English were at least as competent in english as their english classmates.

The Swann Report (1985) showed how linguistic factors may hold back the progress of a few West Indian children, but for the vast majority of ethnic minority students this is not the case at 16

Many Indian and Chinese children - english not first language - still do well in education

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The descriptions of the cultures of certain ethnic groups are often just stereotypical images. Conducting research into cultural differences as causes of educational underachievement can lead to negative descriptions of certain cultures. At times cultural research can be distorted, misused and eventually become justification for institutional racism.

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Internal Factors

- Labelling and teacher racism

Gilborn and Youdell (2000) - suggest that teachers have racialised expectations and stereotypes. They label black students as disruptive, threatening and lacking discipline. African Caribbean students were seen as being threatening even when no threat was intended, so teachers often punished, criticised and disciplined them for offences that go unpunished when committed by white children. This could result to low self esteem for black children.

Wright (1992) - classroom observation 1988/89 in primary schools. Asian children were often viewed as a problem but one that could be largely explored. They received the least attention from teachers. Teachers often assumed that they did not speak the english language confidently enough to fully participate in class. They were also disapproving of certain customs and often mispronounced names which felt them feeling isolated. This marginalisation led to them doing worse in education

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- Setting and Streaming

Foster (1990) - negative labels could lead ethnic minorities to be placed in low sets due to teachers stereotypes of black students' bad behaviour rather than ability. In these sets the black children face all the problems of being in a lower set and low educational achievement.

- Pupil Responses and Subcultures

Mac and Ghaill (1988) - carried out ethnographic research in a boys comprehensive school in the early 1980's. Found that even though many African Caribbean students were of a higher ability, the school put them in lower sets because of their perceived behaviour. African-Caribbean students responded to this by forming an anti-school subculture (the Rasta heads). The anti-school values of this subculture could threaten the possibility of these groups doing well in education.

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Sewell (1997) - studied African-Caribbean male students in a single-sex comprehensive school and identified four main responses:

  • Conformists (41%) - accepted the values of schools and conformed to them with the hope of educational success
  • Innovators (35%) - accepted education was the root to success but rejected schooling and were anti-school but tried to stay out of trouble
  • Retreatists (6%) - Loners who kept themselves inconspicuous. Many were SEN children.
  • Rebels (18%) - Rejected schooling altogether and projected an image of aggressive masculinity, they modelled themselves on the Jamaican 'Yardie'. They were confrontational and aggressive to the teachers and conformists. They saw education as worthless as they would never succeed in a racist society.

Innovators, Retreatists and Rebels lead to underachievement. He also looked at pupil/teacher relationships and found that teachers were frightened by the physical size and aggression of the more assertive pupils. Those students who conformed to the school's values and those who rebelled against them were often judged and

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treated using the same negative stereotypes. Sewell divided teachers into three categories based on their relationships with African-Caribbean students: Supportive teachers, Irritated teachers and Antagonistic teachers.

Mirza (1992) - large numbers of African-Caribbean girls are pro-education, are ambitious and determined to succeed and are aiming for high-status, well paid jobs. However they tend not to identify with their teachers and school due to open racism and 'well meant' but unhelpful attitudes of teachers. They tend to keep a low profile and avoid confrontation at school in order to maintain their self respect.


Lots of supporting studies. Avoids blaming children's home background, and avoid stereotyping about ethnic minority culture.

However, does not take into account external factors. They assume that once a label is applied then a SFP will come about and this may not be the case.

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- Institutional racism and ethnocentric curriculum

Institutional racism - discrimination is built into the way schools and colleges operate. Ethnocentric curriculum - the curriculum taught in schools is biased to white culture and ignores and misrepresents ethnic minorities.

Coard (1971/2005) - the education system makes black children feel inferior in every way. This happens in the following ways:

  • West Indian children's' language is criticised and deemed second rate making them feel inferior
  • The implication is white = good (e.g. unicorn) and black = bad (e.g. pirates)
  • The content of education ignores black people or places them in subservient roles, white British are viewed as bringing civilisation to primitive Asian and African countries

All these factors lead black children to have low self esteem and low expectations.

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However, Coard has often been criticised for using impressionistic data coloured by personal experience. Also, research has suggested that black students do not have low self esteem.

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Gender and differential achievement

The past - women achieved fewer qualifications than males or qualifications of a lower standard. Today this situation is reversed. Feminists suggest that education was sexist towards women. One way in which patriarchy was maintained was through denying women access to education by arguing women biologically were innately less capable than males and so they were denied access to universities and discriminated at school via things such as 11+. By 1970's these arguments had been dismiss and female underachievement was explained in other ways:

Out of school factors

Sharpe (1976) 'just like a girl' - interviewed w/c girls at a London school. Girls' priorities were marriage and family life rather than jobs and careers. Most girls held traditional attitudes about womanhood. Girls' priorities may have had little incentive to achieve qualifications of a high educational standard.

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In school factors

Lobban (1972) - claims that the early years of some reading schemes reinforced gender stereotyping in wider society. In a sample of 179 stories Lobban found:

  • women were portrayed in traditional domestic roles with 35 stories containing a heroine
  • men were portrayed in non-domestic roles with 71 stories containing heroes.

From a young age girls may learn that males are superior to females and the gender roles that the sexes are expected to fulfil.

Spender (1983) 'invisible women' - found evidence of a gender regime where education is biased towards males. 60% of teachers found time was spent dealing with boys. Girls were invisible and males were allowed to mock females' contributions to lessons and this was unpunished by teachers.

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Stanworth (1983) - sixth form college, found lecturers favoured males students with their attention and were also more likely to know boys names

However, French (1986) found that although teachers did spend more time with boys this was mainly spent disciplining their unruly behaviour.

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Now - females do better than males. There are many reasons for this:

Out of school factors

The impact of feminism, changes in the family, changes in female employment

In school factors

Equal opportunities policies, positive role models in school and learning materials (reading schemes), GCSE and coursework, teacher interactions,

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Males do significantly worse than females in education these days. There are many reasons for why this could be:

Out of school factors

- Boys and literacy

research has indicated that boys do worse at skills largely to poorer language and literacy skills and this could be due to socialisation at home (boys are read to less than girls, usually done by their mothers - indicating reading is a female activity). Boys past times tend to be sport and computer games, whereas girls have a 'bedroom culture'. There are government policies such as playing for success and raising boys achievement project is aimed at addressing this.

- Globalisation and the decline of traditional male work

Due to globalisation many jobs that would usually be done by males have been taken abroad and this has caused a crisis in masculinity. This leaves males with little incentive to do well as there are only few job prospects.

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In school factors

- Feminisation of education

Sewell (2006) - the idea that education is dominated by women and no longer values masculine traits such as competitiveness and leadership, but female ones such as methodical working and attentiveness in class.

- Lack of male role models in teaching

DfES (2007) - only 16% of primary school teachers are male. More boys are being raised in lone parent households - exposure to male role models may be limited. Surveys have indicated that boys believe they would respond better to a male teacher, other much other research has contrasted with this.

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- Laddish subcultures

Epstein (1998) and Francis (2001) suggest that it is not masculine to be assertive in school and the label "swot" often came with homophobic abuse and harassment. Therefore males reject school work and form anti-school 'laddish' subcultures as a way of asserting their masculinity in an increasing female world.


Weiner, Arnot and David (1997) - a focus on male underachievement could have come about due to a backlash against feminism as in fact boys are doing better than they used to.

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Gender and subject choice

A level entries 2007 - males outnumbered females in all science and technical subjects apart from biology. They also dominated subjects like economics, geography and physical education. Female outnumbered males in all other subjects with paticularly hight ratios in the social sciences, English and languages.

Reasons for this:

- socialisation - Norman (1988) - in early life the toys and encouragement that children are given may influence their future interests.

- gender domains - Browne and Ross (1991) suggest children are socialised into having gender domains meaning the tasks and activities are seen as male or female territory. At school boys and girls appear more confident in subjects they believe belong to their gender domain.

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- gendered subject images - Kelly (1987) says science is viewed as a male subject because science teachers tend to be male, examples teachers use in textbooks tend to appeal to men and class boys aggressiveness means they monopolise equipment. Colley (1998) supported this idea in computing as it was traditionally a male subject because it deals largely with machines, however, he found that the interactions in class made computer lessons even more of a masculine environment

- peer pressure - Dewar (1990) found girls that took sport were the subject of homophobic taunts. The reverse is also true if males take subjects outside their gender domain.

- gendered career opportunities - the jobs marker is still highly gendered with over 50% of women's jobs in a small number of categories of clerical, secretarial, personal services, shop work and cleaning. It maybe well just be that boys and girls choose subjects to fit in with the gendered nature of the jobs market

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Connell (1995) - with schools there is a dominance of what he calls hegemonic masculinity at the expense of female and gay identities

- verbal abuse - paetcher (1998) - suggests policing of gender and sexual identities in schools maintains it as a patriarchal institution as the processes that go on in schools reinforce stereotypical gender identities.

- male peer groups - Willis (1977) and Mac and Ghaill (1994) - boys reinforce their masculine gender identity in their peer groups often by engaging in macho anti-school subcultures

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it reallyt helps.



i'm glad :) i'll be adding more every day



its good till u *** see wot uve written



sonia wrote:

cn u sort it plzz



sonia wrote:

sort what?



Thank you very much, this is very useful revsion material :)



Smiley :) wrote:

no problem, glad it's helping :) still more to come, should be finished in a few hours hopefully :)

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