Sociology education assignment submit
The School is an important agency of secondary socialisation. All children in the UK are given Equal opportunities to succeed.
Despite the department of education stating that they wish to provide equal opportunities for “children and young people no matter what their background or family circumstances.” (Department of education. 2014) Statistics referencing school children’s performance in the UK indicates a child’s class, ethnicity or gender can have an effect on their overall school performance.
As family is the primary means of socialisation, a parent’s attitude towards education is important for the progress of children in schools. Charles Desforges and Alberto Abouchaars, (2003) study into parental involvement in schools found that; ‘at-home good parenting’ had a positive effect on a child’s attainment. The report suggests this is done through shaping children’s self concepts through setting high aspirations and then concludes, by stating that achievement of working class pupils can be furthered by increasing parental involvement. This shows that it is widely recognised that class directly effects the opportunities children in the UK receive. How parents present themselves is also influential to child’s education, Abigail Beall, (2003) states how Facebook researchers found that children often have similar, if not identical, careers to their parents. The study suggests that working class families with working class jobs, could result in lack of motivation for children to aspire to earn more or have better careers than their parents, they instead seek immediate gratification, often obtaining jobs in manual labour due to a lack of interest in education. In middle class families however, children often apply themselves educationally to follow in their parents footsteps, this deferred gratification usually leads to further education such as university. (Kennon, J., 2012)
Apart from the influence of parents, the effects of housing and the environment can also effect opportunities within education. A leaflet by Lisa Harker 2006, for ‘Shelter England’ details how one study found that: “parents in overcrowded homes were less responsive and spoke to their children in less sophisticated ways as opposed to parents in less overcrowded homes.” This lack of communication and sophisticated language was linked to having a negative effect on children’s learning, as they became less expressive and unable to voice their thoughts with the correct vocabulary. Furthermore overcrowding results in a lack of suitable space for children to study, creating disruption at school. Attendance at school from Children in overcrowded homes was low as a result of health reasons, as illness can travel faster between individuals in close proximity. According to a National Child Development Study, into the effects of poor housing conditions, the effects of cold and damp also correlates to a lack of attendance in school due to illness. A study completed in Cornwall found: installing central heating into rooms of children aged 9 to 11 helped respiratory problems and increased school attendance. Prior to this children lost 9.3 days out of 100 due to breathing problems, this decreased to 2.3 days lost after intervention. (Harker, l., 2006) Apart from poor housing conditions, catchment areas can also effect children’s educational progression. Kate Hughes (2017) claims that: 25% of parents relocate to a “particular catchment area,” and were willing to spend an additional 12% on top of the market value. This proves that middle class parents can afford to provide children with better educational chances before school begins. (Hughes, k., 2017)
Apart from location, what’s within the home can also effect educational attainment. Lack of accessible technology/internet, creates poor performance at schools. Valerie Thompson of E – Learning Foundation states “lack of a home internet connection or a computer could mean that children struggled to research homework or complete coursework.” This could also suggest that children were unable to receive feedback or access school resources. Her research established that there were 750,000 children in households without internet access, and 650,000 without a computer. According to the E-Learning Foundation, that figure shows the divide between rich and poor and the effects this has on children’s progression within education. (Burns, J., 2013)
The divide between class and educational attainment is argued by Diane Reay to have not yet occurred. Within education, she states that: “the working classes are still getting less education than the middle classes, just as they had when my dad was at school at the beginning of the 20th century.” She argues this is as a result of less affluent children being given more “restrictive educational offers,” thus effecting the league tables and resulting in teachers focusing on Maths and English. (Ferguson, F., 2017) Diane Reay’s suggests that teachers therefore treat children differently based on their class; the issue of labelling then comes into effect. Theorised by Snyder et al’s, self-fulfilling prophecy theory, if ones is labelled enough they begin to act in accordance to that label. The article states that working class children aged 4 can tell they’re in ‘the monkeys’ (a lower set,) because they’re not very clever. Teachers then labelling these children as ‘lower sets’ will have a negative effect on their overall learning and progression from an early age.
Labelling and stereotyping also influences the academic achievement of ethnic minorities. Professor Jennifer Eberhardt, took two scenarios of children misbehaving and asked teachers how they would punish the children based on their actions. In scenarios in which the students were black, teachers seen the bad behaviour as more concerning. Interviews were also conducted with teachers, parents, and head teachers about their opinions on black pupils/students. Overall participants expressed strong feelings about how black boys are labelled as a result of their clothing, friends; reputation and how they communicated. The report concluded that once black pupils gained a reputation for bad behaviour, it became difficult to convince teachers that they could improve. (Demie, f., McLean, C. 2017)
Despite underachievement of Black/Caribbean students, other ethnic minorities are surpassing their White British counterparts. In 2013 of all children receiving free school meals it was proven that at aged 16, ethnic minority groups were outperforming white working class pupils in attaining five GCSE’s grade C and above. Existing government funded studies suggest that this is due to parental factors, including high aspirations and expectations resulting in higher attendance and few exclusions.
Language barriers are also an influential factor to ones attainment. When children immigrate to England, they are assigned English intervention classes, and only allowed to integrate into classes once they had basic level English. Once in mainstream classes, teachers are often strict on pronunciation and writing. This sparks debate whether separating students based on their language barriers is the right thing to do. Arguments made, suggest students could integrate in all their classes with specialist support however, as linking pupils together regardless of language causes faster integration, which in turn creates a more positive approach to education. (Morrison, N., 2014)
In recent news, it has been discussed that boys may need additional support throughout their educational lives, due to women achieving better grades. Camilla Turner (2015) reports that “girls now seem to outperform boys in mathematics, reading and science literacy within 70% of all countries.” The article clarifies, that except for over achievers, boys have poorer educational outcomes than girls in the UK. Hannah Richardson references research by the Higher Education Policy institute to argue why boys underachieve in schools, it was found boys and girls will often have different attitudes towards school work. Furthermore, the Organisation of Economic Co-operation and Development found boys tend to spend an hour less on homework when compared to girls. The report also states that boys are more likely to get distracted, which in turn means they are less likely to study from home. Despite this however, men still outperform women when it comes to prestigious subjects and applying to universities. (Richardson, H., 2016)
In addition, Rowenna Davis (2010) explains that there is a decline in women entering into stereotypical male based subjects. In 2005 women made up 24% of computer study classes however five years later in 2010, women only accounted for 19%. Since the year 2000 there has been no increase in women entering maths, this statistic remains at 38%. The same rule applies for engineering and technology where women only make up 15% of all classes. The article argues that women’s “intolerance” towards ‘STEM’ subjects (Science, technology, engineering and maths) are “deep rooted” as career advisors are teaching students to go into stereotypical subjects. An argument can therefore be made that subject choices within schools are not providing pupils with equal opportunities, as they at reinforcing careers advice based on gender.
Lastly, the way in which pupils are graded also has a significant impact on performance within education. Despite evidence stated above, 2017 A-Level results witnessed men surpassing females in quality of grades. Rachel Pells (2017) argues this is because assessment types have been changed in favour of “exam based grading”. Previously it was a mixture of both exam and coursework based assessments. The article argues females apply themselves better in coursework based studies, whereas boys tend to revise heavily a couple of weeks before exams, thus meaning equal opportunity within school assessing isn’t achieved.
To conclude, despite government policy stating that equal education is given to all, it is evident that both internal and external factors indicate that this is an impossible task. The research suggests that educational achievement and attainment is predisposed from birth. Ones class, ethnicity and gender dictate how well they will achieve or underachieve within education. To claim that ‘all children in the UK are given equal opportunities to succeed’ is incorrect due to different factors playing a huge part throughout their academic life, and into adulthood.
Beall, A. (2016). Facebook research shows how our parents’ career choices affect our own. [online] Mail Online. Available at: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-3504404/Taking-family-business-Children-tend-make-career-choices-based-jobs-parents-siblings-have.html [Accessed 3 Apr. 2018].
Burns, J. (2013). Poorest pupils lack home internet. [online] BBC News. Available at: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-20899109 [Accessed 5 Apr. 2018].
Demie, F. and McLean, C. (2017). Black Caribbean Underachievement in Schools in England. [online] Lambeth.gov.uk. Available at: https://www.lambeth.gov.uk/rsu/sites/www.lambeth.gov.uk.rsu/files/black_caribbean_underachievement_in_schools_in_england_2017.pdf [Accessed 5 Apr. 2018].
Davis, R. (2010). Women students stick to traditional subjects. [online] the Guardian. Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/education/2010/jul/13/women-students-stem-subjects [Accessed 7 Apr. 2018].
Desforges, C. and Abouchaar, A. (2003). The impact of parental involvement, parental support and family education on pupil achievement and adjustment: A literature review | Creativity, Culture and Education. [online] Creativitycultureeducation.org. Available at: http://www.creativitycultureeducation.org/the-impact-of-parental-involvement-parental-support-and-family-education-on-pupil-achievement-and-adjustment-a-literature-review [Accessed 3 Apr. 2018].
Ferguson, D. (2017). ‘Working-class children get less of everything in education – including respect’. [online] the Guardian. Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/education/2017/nov/21/english-class-system-shaped-in-schools [Accessed 4 Apr. 2018].
Hawker, L. (2006). Chance of a Lifetime. [online] England.shelter.org.uk. Available at: https://england.shelter.org.uk/__data/assets/pdf_file/0016/39202/Chance_of_a_Lifetime.pdf [Accessed 3 Apr. 2018].
Hughes, K. (2017). Quarter of UK parents move house for the school catchment area. [online] The Independent. Available at: https://www.independent.co.uk/money/spend-save/uk-parents-move-house-school-catchment-area-quarter-best-education-a7908046.html [Accessed 5 Apr. 2018].
Kennon, J. (2012). New Study Finds The Ability to Delay Gratification Correlates with Reliability of Others. [online] Joshuakennon.com. Available at: https://www.joshuakennon.com/new-study-finds-the-ability-to-delay-gratification-correlates-with-the-reliability-of-adults-in-a-childs-life/ [Accessed 3 Apr. 2018].
Morrison, N. (2014). Breaking down the language barrier for EAL pupils. [online] the Guardian. Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/teacher-network/teacher-blog/2014/mar/05/teaching-eal-foreign-languages-students-integration-schools [Accessed 5 Apr. 2018].
Pells, R. (2017). Boys overtake girls in top A-level grades for first time in a generation. [online] The Independent. Available at: https://www.independent.co.uk/news/education/education-news/a-level-results-2017-boys-beat-birls-top-subjects-english-maths-history-first-time-a7898186.html [Accessed 7 Apr. 2018].
Richardson, H. (2016). Why do more girls go to university?. [online] BBC News. Available at: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-37107208 [Accessed 7 Apr. 2018].
Turner, C. (2015). Girls do better than boys at school, despite inequality. [online] Telegraph.co.uk. Available at: https://www.telegraph.co.uk/education/11364130/Girls-do-better-than-boys-at-school-despite-inequality.html [Accessed 6 Apr. 2018].