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A Discussion Of The Theory That Class Based Differences In Educational

1044 words - 4 pages

A discussion of the theory that class-based differences in educational
achievement are mainly due to familial factors.

Throughout the twentieth century, there have been many changes made to
the structure of the education system. These include the 1944
Education act which made secondary education compulsory and introduced
the tri-partite system of school, though the move to a comprehensive
system of schools in the 1960’s, to the introduction of the National
Curriculum in 1988. While official statistics have shown that all
these measures have served to increase the overall levels of
educational attainment (as defined by attainment of qualifications),
both official and sociological evidence indicated that class-based
inequalities in educational attainment have shown no tendency to

It has been suggested that class base differences in educational
success are due to home and familial factors: that children from lower
social backgrounds are more likely to fail because of what they
experience inside the home environment. This approach is based on the
belief that those from different social classes have significantly
differing home lives. It is possible to split home and family based
factors into two categories: material factors and cultural factors.

As educational success generally rises with family income, many
researches see material deprivation as the major cause of inequality
in educational success. Hasley, Heath and Ridge examined the education
careers of males, and found that those from higher social backgrounds
were much more likely to stay in education past the minimum leaving
age than those from working class backgrounds. They pointed out that a
major reason for this was the cost of staying in education, and this
denied many working class people from gaining higher-level educational
qualifications. Douglas also believed that poor living conditions in
the home were major factors in educational failure. In a survey, he
divided his sample into two groups: those who had sole use of
household facilities, such as bathrooms, and those who did not. He
found that the children living in ‘unsatisfactory condition scored
much more poorly on tests that those in ‘satisfactory’ conditions.
Reason suggested for this include poor housing conditions and diet
leading to ill health, leading to absence from school, and
underperformance while there.

It is also often believed that difference in class culture can
contribute to educational success or failure. Douglas believed
parental interest was the most important factor in educational
success, his research suggesting middle class parents showed more
interest than working class parents. However, his research has been
criticised, as he measured parental interest by attendance at open
days, and job difference between middle class and working class
parents may account for this. These and other finding came to be known
as cultural deprivation theory, believing...

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