TO WHAT EXTENT IS EDUCATIONAL ACHIEVEMENT TODAY STILL AFFECTED BY INEQUALITIES? DISCUSS WITH REFERENCE TO SOCIAL CLASS

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British education is supposed to be that of meritocracy, but it has been researched (Bynner and Joshi (1999)) that working class children are still failing in education, where as their middle class peers are doing well and going on to do ‘A’ levels and go to University, thus achieving the higher paid jobs. This has not changed since the 1950’s, even though the British government has changed the educational system and introduced new policies such as the abolishment of the 11 plus and introducing comprehensive schools or the introduction of the National Curriculum in 1988. Some sociologists agree that education is important in society but they have different views of what working class children can achieve. Functionalist believe in meritocracy; if the child works hard enough then they can be whatever they want to be, where as Marxist believe that everyone has their place, society dictates that the working class are at the bottom of the ladder and middle class at the top and achieve the higher paid jobs. There are many reasons why working class children fail to reach the ‘top of the ladder’. This is can be down to material deprivation. Working class families do not have the money to buy material goods (ie: computers, educational toys, books), good quality food or to go on days out or holidays which will expand they cultural knowledge and give them a head start in life. Children generally live in smaller houses than their middle class peers and do not have their own space to concentrate on their school work. Parents of the lower class children quite often just do not have the time to spend with their children due to preoccupation of their own problems (money, housing etc) or working unsociable hours. All this typically means that the children have an unhealthy diet and poor living conditions (damp, cramping) contributing to illness and absences from school
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