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We, human individuals-as with many living things- start the process of learning immediately after we are born. The first learning place is usually in the home.
However, at all levels of education, starting from nursery school, working class children fall behind middle class children. The working class cannot afford the pre-school nursery fees in United Kingdom, which are the highest in the rest of the European Union countries. It's hard to find in many nursery schools working class children; and later on, in primary school, they do less after school activities, because it's too expensive with hidden costs on top of it. What is more, the working class children are less likely to go to university.
The Youth Cohort Study produced a range of long study analyses for the Department for Education Statistics. They worked with 14 000 young students in England and Wales, who cooperated after finishing their compulsory education at sixteen and followed up later after one and /or year. The Youth Cohort Study researched class and GCSE results grades. The GCSE results between 1989 and 1998 based on parent's occupation were. Firstly, middle class student's managerial and professional jobs were up 17 percent, and other non-manual workers were up 18 percent. On the other hand, working class pupils results were as follows; skilled manual workers increased by 19 percent, semi-skilled manual workers increased by 16 percent, and unskilled manual workers were 8 percent up.
Furthermore, the Youth Cohort Study in 2005 also organised examinations based on the class system and from their previous research- class and GCSE attainment grades in 2000-2004. The analyses were again done on the class based on parent's occupation. The middle class students in higher and lower professional-there was 3 percent increase; and in intermediate it was 4 percent. However, the working class pupils in lower supervisory positions increased by 5 percent and routine places by 7 percent.
In addition, the Youth Cohort group, analysed and tested A' level achievement 2002-2006; and as previously it was based on parent's occupation. Starting again with the middle class there was no change within the higher professional group. However in the lower professional group there was 3 percent increase. Surprisingly, in unskilled work, there was a rather big jump-a 9 percent increase. In opposition, the working class in lower supervisory and routine jobs had an equal 5 percent increase.
Furthermore, the Department for Education Statistics used the Age Participation Index, studied and researched how social hierarchy effect to manage to get to higher education to enter undergraduate courses, 1991-2001, for under students under 21 years old; The results were again, what was expected? The middle class pupils in professional jobs 24 % increased, intermediate jobs 14 % increased, and skilled non-manual workers 11% increased. Whilst again, the pupils from a working class background, skilled manual workers 10% increased, semi-skilled manual workers 6% increased and moreover, unskilled manual workers shocking 9% increased.
However, The Department for Education decided not to continue with the Age Participation Index after their analysis 1991-2001. The Youth Cohort Study still carried out the project from2003 -2005 for 19 years old. As usual, in the middle class, higher professional had a 7% increase, lower professional a 5% increase, intermediate a 6% increase. By contrast, the working class students had a 1% decline in lower supervisory positions, possible due to open borders from the new Eastern European countries. However, we don't know and routine jobs increased by 5%.
Moreover, the working class is still performing below their potential achievements at GCSE, and AS, A' level. Nevertheless, improvements in achievements across all classes were attempted by the last government in Britain. In addition, it was observed and documented, that within these classes-those at the top of each class do better than those at the bottom. Furthermore, the underachievement means an individual or group does less well than expected, or they do not reach their potential.
Labelling theory/ Interactions Perspectives, use the school influences or processes to explain the underachievement and poor results of the working class in school. This theory tries to explain primarily the school factors and most of all the classroom interaction between teachers and pupils. It claims and argues that most teachers' pre-judge, and label their students by their behaviour, race, appearance, and language skills. If English language is not someone's mother tongue, then the social class rather than gender, favouritism, ability, or intelligence is noted. Therefore, such unhealthy relationship between teachers and pupil obviously can have an encouraging or discouraging effect on individual achievement. Additionally, middle class student is considering being the perfect pupil.
Rosenthal and Jacobson (1968) carried out an experiment in a Californian primary school where they tricked teachers into trusting them, and told them that they had developed a new intelligent test which could predict which pupils would be the best academically. Obviously, it was a standard IQ test but the teachers were unaware of that, and the students were of mixed ability in educational standards, and the teachers considered which pupils had the highest IQ, although it was not that case. At the end of the year, the pupils were re-tested, and it was clear that the students whom the teachers had expected to do well were the fastest learners, and their IQ intelligence test increased on average by 15 %, better than pupils not labelled good by their teachers. Furthermore, the children's success could be forecasted with the concept of 'a self-fulfilling prophecy'. Teachers' opinion of students is important: those they labelled likely to be a success by their behaviour and attitude created a higher expectation in the student. For example: the teacher smiles at them more; they ask them more questions; they praised them more; and they give them more help. Moreover, some students pick up on the teacher's general opinion: which meant some students felt welcome, whilst others felt that could never satisfy him.
However, it's unethical to lie to teachers because there is a potentially huge effect on the pupils' education and their future life. Rogers insisted that the research carry out was in different areas: therefore, the study is not reliable. Furthermore, the IQ tests used in the research were not a good standard and carried out under a different condition for students. In addition, it was not free will-students had to do this test- it was deterministic. M. Fuller met a group of black girls at sixth form who had a racist teacher: he labelled them negatively. Obviously, they were disruptive in class. However, because they worked very hard at home, and helped each other, they luckily became very successful in life.
Furthermore, the pupils comes to believe the teachers' opinions, which obviously had a huge impact for their student progress and achievements. Gilborn and Youdell analysed two London secondary schools, where the teacher decided student type of sets- it was teachers own opinion. Gilborn and Youdell learnt that black students and working class children were in foundation tier for GCSE and middle class with white pupils were in higher tier groups. The teachers put and decide it, even though they had been learning the same curriculum and reaching the same results. What is more, the teacher / expert / self- proclaimed God, basically stop them to achieve more in their life, to get better results in exams, and to get on with their further education:" self-fulfilling prophecy". Hopefully, this disturbing study was carried out only in two secondary schools in London, so it can't be proclaimed, that this is a usual practise in every school, and it can't be generalized for all UK.
The interactionists have noticed that many groups described, end up as having the participants reaching the standard expected of them. Schools usually put pupils into ability bands, streams, or sets in the UK.
The Ball research in Beachside Comprehensive School claimed there is a connection with class, banding and attainment. Firstly, the students were prefixed and prejudged from their primary school into their bands. The middle class pupils being usually placed in higher bands compared to pupils from the working class that was given lower bands. What is more, the teachers expect and predict that top band is going to be lovely and perfect; the middle band to be likely mostly in trouble; and the lower band is expected to be the weakest and badly behaved. Furthermore, the teachers concentrated on the top band to make sure they are ready for university. On the other hand, the middle class could only hope passing GCSE, and to enter vocational courses. Therefore, subcultures appear: the middle band students; and the working class, who loses interest to do well in education. They lost belief and trust in education- so they were mostly failed. However, when banding was scrapped, the teachers still continue to label individual pupil, sadly usually on their personal view. However, the main criticism of this study is, it was carried out in one school; we can't use it to represent other schools.
Furthermore, the Hargreaves (1967) study in a modern school for those who were losers; showed well behaved pupils studied in high streams- badly behaved studied in low streams. Moreover, the boys already felt bad enough to have a place only in a secondary modern school, and then on top of that to be placed in a lower stream didn't help their self- esteem. In addition, they felt already like big losers and failures, so for their pride and self confidence, they acted completely opposite to the rules in the schools, to impress their own peers. They developed anti- school interests and behaviour. However, the Hammersly and Turner pointed out that not all teachers are from a middle class background, so they will understand their pupils very well. Furthermore, there are teachers who love to help troubled pupils. Moreover, humanistic Marxist Willis claimed that subcultures are the result of the realistic capitalist system, where working class boys are exploited and do not exploit their life chances. Therefore, it's not only the school where the boys learnt such attitude towards education. It has to be also mentioned that pupils' behaviour fluctuated, between different subjects and teachers.
The main issue and reason for underachievement in the working class are for the functionalist; cultural disadvantage, and deprivation. Cultural deprivation means the lack of the norms, values and attitudes, which are the back bone for educational success.
The functionalist, Sugarman, devised a survey and used it in 540 secondary schools for boys in his research. He learnt that bad working class job prospects cause them to develop a subculture different from middle class people lives. Sadly, this working class subculture has an absence of hunger and desire for educational success. Sugarman recognized that the working class has many differences from the middle class. The first is to gain immediate satisfaction, and the desire to earn money as quickly as possible. They want to have their own wages, so that they can buy what they dream of having, because their families didn't have any spare cash for luxury purchases. On the other hand, the middle class students postpone their desire to earn money: in contrast, they enjoy their student life, and usually their parents or grandparents support their education, and are financially secure. Moreover, they know from their family history that education is important to have a good future income. Sugarman explained that they put off their present satisfaction and gain greater satisfaction later. The second difference is that the working class is seeking present- " just right now" rewards- rather than sacrifice the present for future. They are happy and excited to leave as soon as possible; to be independent; and have own income. In contrast, the middle class children grow up in a family environment, where they plan for a future successful career. They continue in education later and enjoy a prolonged student and youth life. Thirdly, the working class is convinced that only the trade unions can make their life better. On the other hand, the middle class considers that individual accomplishment matters most. Furthermore, middle class culture harmonises better with the culture of education in Britain. Fourthly, they believe that their future is written and can't be changed: equally, the middle class believes that their future is written and can't be changed.
Nevertheless, Gaine and George claimed that the working class did not have one specific culture when Sugarman made his research, and, even if there was only one culture, time moves on, and the culture of British society has changed. Furthermore, the manual jobs have faded away, and unemployment has risen. Moreover, Turner insisted that now in Britain, there is almost no gap; that there are many similarities between the working class and the middle class; which makes it impossible to clarify the whole of working class underachievement. Additionally, his surveys had big problems as with other surveys; people's vision of their interpretation, is often different from their actual interpretation, and is usually completely different to real life. Also, he only studied only working class boys; yet we know it's proven that most girls have more ambitions to get future well paid jobs, and perform academically better than the boys. So, it seems gender rather than class could be a factor why working class boys are behind the middle class.
On the other hand, Social Democratic Perspective studies the material deprivation to explain the working class underachievement. A poor material environment means that children are more likely to catch illnesses and have accidents, or to be handicapped by speech and learning difficulties. What is more, they are more likely to miss school and consequently, end up behind their classmates. Material deprivation is the lack of money or low income to buy resources such as books, which are needed for educational success. For example: uniforms, text books, stationary, school trips, and computers. A background of poverty has a huge negative influence on education achievement.
Reay et al researched mainly year 12 and 13 old pupils. His study confirmed that students from the managerial and professional family background-upper middle class- are able to pay for private schools, and to have additionally private lessons to pass their exams with top marks. Moreover, material deprivation forces the working class students to work full or at least part time to help them with financial pressure and worries. Furthermore, they have to work longer hours because they are often paid the minimum wage. All of these financial difficulties decrease their chance to pass the exams, and get satisfactory grades to enter university. What is more, the working class students are well aware of travel and accommodation costs in university, so they usually chose universities closer to their parent's home. Surveys show that 70% of working class students, and 30 % of middle class students, do not study away from home due to financial constraints. However, there is criticism of Social democrat Reay et al's research. Ball et al claimed that material influences are important in educational achievement. However, cultural factors are also important. The middle class parents know very well how the educational system works, so they can make sure that their children go to the best schools. Another criticism was put forward by Hefe, who claimed that there was a 30 % increase in students going to university from a poorer background; which shows that students are not put off by students' loans.
However, it has to be said that labelling is the main cause of working class underachievement around the world, especially nowadays where the capitalist system is dominant even in so-called socialism systems like China.
Furthermore, the students from a working class background are likely to have poorer results in their GCSE, A' levels. Additionally, these pupils are less likely to apply to go to University to have a degree.