Asses the advantages and disadvantages of official statistics for the study of how class affects educational attainment
Official Statistics refer to numerical data collected by governments and official bodies. These can include data on marriages, divorces, births, deaths, all of which are quantifiable. Class is a measure of a households comfortability with income and ownership of basic material; in this case lower class will be represented by whether or not children of a household are eligible for Free School Meals (FSM) or not. It is possible to use official statistics, a secondary method, meaning data which is relevant to the given investigation and has previously been conducted, to study class in relation to education rather than using a primary method. This has many practical an ethical-based advantages and is also high in representativeness due to large sample sizes, however issues with reliability and bias may overshadow the positives.
Firstly, official statistics allow research to be conducted on a large scale as they are conducted by official bodies and governments who are interested in society as a whole. Research into achievement is often carried out to produce official statistics, for example, with the use of official statistics, the government have deduced that only 35% of pupils eligible for FSM achieved 5 A*-C grades as opposed to 62% of all other pupils. This conclusion was only possible due to the large-scale on which the research, which becomes official statistics, is based on; the entire population. Therefore official statisticsare useful as it, not only allows large amounts of data to be collected on important topics which interest the population, but also produces reliable and representative data which can be used to make generalisations. Perhaps that is why Positivist support the use of official statistics; generalisations can be used to establish cause-and-effect relationships.
Secondly, issues in education which interest...