Many sociologists argue that “factors and processes within school are the main cause of difference” These factors include gender, class and ethnicity. All of these things can lead to certain stereotypes and labels being forced upon pupils. The idea that Teachers have certain expectations of different social and ethnic groups means that self-fulfilling prophecy can lead to pupils living out positive and negative labels.
The role of gender in educational achievement is that in past times it has been that boys have achieved less than girls in school, this could be that boys have a history of ‘laddish’ behaviour and have had a negative attitude to learning. This had also led to teachers expectations of ‘lads’ to be low which has caused negative stereotypes and labels. All of these things have in turn caused many anti-school subcultures. Jackson did a study about how this ‘laddish’ behaviour is now being seen in some girls which could in fact mean that it is not only boys that have these negative labels but also girls.
Another factor that may influence the achievement of girls is that girls now have a lot of higher role models and more opportunities in the future; this can lead to them working harder because they can see themselves being successful in the future. Another In-school factor would be ethnicity, different ethnic groups achieve better than others in education, for example the highest achieving ethnic group is British Chinese and the lowest would be black African Caribbean boys. The reasons for these differences in achievement could be linked to family morals and attitudes to school.
Teachers also have expectations of different ethnic groups which again, like gender can lead to positive and negative labels and stereotypes. The curriculum in schools could also lead to this due to it being ethnocentric. Differences in class an play a crucial role in the achievement between different classes, for example working class children do not have as much cultural capital as middle class children and this can play a vital part in how they achieve at school, due to teachers expectations of how they behave and achieve.
The idea of the hidden curriculum means that schools are preparing students for middle class jobs with middle class ideas. Also the idea that middle class teachers get on better with idle class students also reinforces the idea of teacher’s expectations which can lead to self-fulfilling prophecy and students either over or under achieving.
One more in-school factor would be pupil subcultures and how streaming and setting can lead to both anti and pro school subcultures, This again links to the idea of self-fulfilling prophecy and that students may either reject their labels or follow them. The organisation of the school can also be closely linked to class and how students may be put into lower streams or sets due to their social background and how teachers perceive them. Home backgrounds of students also contribute to a large part of their achievement.
The differences in class can lead to many home disadvantages such as material deprivation which means that students do not have enough money for resources such as private tutors, laptops, trips or uniforms; this will give them a disadvantage compared to middle class students. Working class students may also have other responsibilities to attend to such as looking after siblings or even disabled parents; this means that they do not have as much time to spend on studying.
Parent’s attitudes towards school and education can also prove to be an impact, if a parent has a negative attitude to school and learning then the child will not have as much pressure or ambition to do as well. This idea of parent expectations links closely with ethnicity and how different ethnic groups view educarion. In conclusion there are many in school processes that can influence the achievement of children such as gender and how girls and boys are perceived and what teachers expect of them.
Another would be Class and how working and middle class students achieve differently due to aspects of school life like the hidden curriculum. Also ethnicity and the expectations and ideas about certain groups like the British Chinese. There are also a lot of out of school factors such as home background, material deprivation and parents’ expectations. Overall I believe that the both in school factors and out of school factors contribute to the differences in educational achievement of different social groups.
Courtney from Study Moose
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