The fact that working class students are relative failures in the education system is a fact because there is statistical evidence to prove it. In an article by Ivan Reid “Education and inequality” (November 1996), Figure 1 shows the ‘percentage of persons with higher or no educational qualifications by social class, Great Britain, 1992’. The graph clearly shows that as the social class changes from ‘professional workers’ to ‘unskilled manual workers’, the percentage of people with no qualifications increases sharply as the percentage of those with higher education decreases dramatically.
Whereas 78% of people in class 1 have higher education, almost the same percentage – 74% – of class 6 have no education. These statistics are an almost direct translation of the fact. This essay is based on educational underachievement in education. I intend to discuss these reasons chronologically, that is in the order the ideas became the talk of sociologists. The first explanation that was offered for differential educational achievement in the late 1960s/early 70s was that intelligence is inherited and measurable. This is a view put forward by psychologists known as ‘hereditarians’.
They focus on children with parents of high occupational status, and claim that the children also eventually gain the same status, as they inherit a high level of intelligence. They believe the term ‘intelligence’ means the ability to ‘reason, comprehend and make judgements’. They argue that the link between the level of intelligence of parents and children is strong, but also do not deny that the correspondence is not complete. They acknowledge that there exists a minority of less intelligent middle class children and more intelligent working class children.