Home Factors May Affect Social Class Differences in Educational Achievement Essay Sample

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There are a lot of different factors that can affect a child’s educational achievement; their social background has a strong influence on the achievement and success that they may get during their lives. For example a child from a middle class background is on average more likely to attain a higher success than one from a working class background, and the class gap between the achievement levels gets wider and wider the older that the children get. A good way of explaining why some children have a higher success rate is to do with what their parents can afford and sometimes even the people that they might know; this can generally have an effect because it means that a parent that has more money can send their child to a private school because they can pay for it. Many people tend to believe that private schools can provide their child with a better educational experience and help them to get the best possible grades more so than a state/public school could do. Money is a very big factor when it comes to educational achievement, it is the difference between what kinds of schools a child may go and also what kind of equipment they will have access to.

Children that come from working class families that don’t have as much money as those that come from middle class families could end up missing out on educational experiences because they don’t have the money to pay for them but also they may lose out on some of the most important equipment that could help when it comes to enhancing their educational achievement levels. To achieve a great educational success, it can be very expensive and for working class parents this can generally be a burden on their financial state therefore meaning that they encourage their children to get a job and start earning money a lot more early than a parent of a middle class child might. If a child does start to work while they are trying to stay in school as well it could lead to them not being able to concentrate on both as well as each other which means that because they will be more “money motivated” it will end up having a very negative effect on their school work therefore not being able to achieve the best grade that they could achieve in school. Due to these financial issues that the families could end up having, it means

that their children are more likely to leave school at 16 and go straight into work instead of going

on to university, but the few that do go on to university do end up getting into a lot more debt than others that may have more money and therefore it will end up with them dropping out of university and not carrying on to get the qualifications that they wanted to get in the first place because they might not be as motivated as they were before.

Language is another big factor in educational success because it can show teachers and employers of the skills that the person they may want to higher/teacher have; which can be a negative thing or positive. If a person talks to their friends and family in slang or in simple sentences and can change the way that they talk to have more elaborated sentences quite easily then they won’t have a problem when talking to people that could have an effect on their achievement level, but if a person hasn’t got this skill then they could end up not having as much of a chance in success. A few sociologists identified some differences in the speech of people from a working class background compared to those from a middle class background that had an influence on the achievement of both groups. They found that there were two different types of speech codes, restricted code and elaborated code. Restricted code was found to be generally used by those that came from working class backgrounds because it is more simple and made up of quite a bit of slang, the speech is very predictable and may actually only involve one word answers or even just simple gestures. The speaker will generally assume that the person/people they are talking to shares the same experiences.

Whereas elaborated code is more used by people who come from middle class families, it is made up of more complex sentences and tends to use a wider vocabulary which means the speech is more varied and tends to communicate abstract ideas. Early socialisation into each of these different speech types mean that the child will be fluent in which even they have been brought up using, for example if a child is taught from an early stage to speak in proper English with elaborated code as their primary speaking code, when they go to school they are more likely to feel more at home and therefore they will be more likely to succeed in their educational achievement. One of the last most important home factors that can influence a child’s achievement levels is the attitudes and values that your family holds about schooling and education.

Douglas found that working class parents didn’t think education had that much of a value and therefore they didn’t encourage and help their children with their school work leading to the children sometimes having the same or similar views as their parents. Also they didn’t visit the schools or talk to the teachers about their child’s progress; as a result their children had lower levels of achievement motivation. Another sociologist, Leon Feinstein, also discovered this during his work; it was the main reason for a child’s under-achievement and was substantially more important than the financial hardships that come with sending a child to school. Feinstein argued that middle class children were more likely to get the higher grades and gain more of an educational success because their parents were found to be a lot more involved and willing to help them with their school work.

Cultural deprivation theorists have argued that if a child’s parent doesn’t pay much attention or isn’t interested in their education then it reflects the working class subcultures values. Large sections of the working class people generally have different goals, attitudes, values and beliefs compared to the rest of society and this is apparently why their children don’t achieve as much of an educational success as other children.

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Emma Taylor


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