'Educational Achievement Is Determined by a Person's Social Class'. Discuss.

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One of the most striking features of Education in the United Kingdom is the difference in the level of achievement between pupils from different social classes. It would seem that social class background has a powerful influence on a child's chances of success in the education system. Middle class children on average do perform better than working class children and the gap only widens as the children get older. In this essay I will look at the different theories put forward by sociologists as to what extent educational achievement is determined by a person's social class. Emile Durkheim (1858 - 1917) was a French sociologist and is known as one of the Founding Fathers of the discipline. He believed that education had a number of functions for society. the first being that society needs a sense of solidarity; that is, its individual members must feel to be part of a single 'body' or community. He argued that without this, life and cooperation would be impossible because everyone would pursue their own selfish desires. He believed that schools acted as a mini-society, people need to cooperate with other people who are neither family nor friends - teachers and pupils at school, colleagues and customers at work. In today's society, industrial economies have a complex division of labour, where production usually involves the cooperation of many different specialists. This cooperation promotes social solidarity but for it to be successful, each person must perform their role. Durkheim argued that education teaches individuals the specialist knowledge and skills that they need to play their part in the social division of labour. In the USA, Talcott Parsons (1902 - 1979) developed Durkheim's ideas. For Parsons, the most important agency of secondary socialisation is education. He argued that schools act as a bridge between the family and wider society. Needed
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