An Essay Arguing About Whether Social Class Or Gender Of A Person Influences Their Educational Achievement

2949 words - 12 pages

Explain the influence of social class and gender on educational achievement'Sexual equality' and 'Classlessness' all echo from recent UK academic and media debates concerning education, and perhaps rightly so: according to the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority (August 2000 results) girls' have now surpassed boys' achievement at G.C.S.E and A level examinations in some subjects and, yes Britain has moved a long way from the tripartite system which was said to mirror the three traditions of male labor (brain, non-manual, manual). However more recent studies suggest that these results 'mask both the strengthening grip that the British middle-classes have on educational advantage and privilege, and the continued exclusion of women from areas of education and employment' (Gaby Weiner, 1997).Education is important. It takes up a significant proportion of our lives, and to some degree it affects the rest of our lives. Its expense must not be forgotten as in 1992 government expenditure on education in the UK was 32.3 billion pounds, 12.7% of all public expenditure (social trends, 1994).A strict definition of what social class actually means is debatable; as Mahony and Zmroczek point out 'Class experience is deeply rooted, retained and carried through life rather than left behind (or below)', as some individuals find themselves in a different social class from that into which they were born (Mahony and Zmroczek, 1997:4).For the purposes of this essay, a strict definition is not needed and so stereotypical definitions such as wealth and shared values will be sufficient to evaluate its influence on education and more importantly educational achievement.There is significant evidence to show that the higher a pupils social class, the higher their level of educational achievement is likely to be.Furthermore these pupils are more likely to stay on in post-compulsory education, and are more likely to achieve examination passes when at school, and are more likely to gain entrance into a university.These findings are supported in 'Origins and destinations' by Halsey A H, Heath A F and Ridge J M (1990 cited in Haralambos, p253) who based their conclusions on the Oxford Mobility Study.They found clear class differences among 8,529 males born between 1913 and 1952 in England and Wales. The sample included three groupings depending on their fathers' education (service class, intermediate class and working class). When comparing a boy from the service class to a boy in the working class they found that he had 4 times as great a chance of being at school at 16, 8 times the chance at 17 and 10 times the chance at 18. Further more they had 11 times greater chance of going to university.This is supported perhaps by the official statistics from the General Household Surveys of 1985-1986 where it has been shown that 38% of service class children had a degree or equivalent compared to 2% of children from the working class.More recently in the General Household Surveys...

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