Tripartite System: Students sit the 11+ exam at the end of primary to decide which high school they will go too. There are three types… 1. Grammar: For those who passed the exam – considered intelligent2. Technical: Those who didn’t pass but showed strong abilities with technical work.3. Secondary Modern: Any one who didn’t go to grammar or technical school get a basic education for less skilled jobs.
There were two problems with these schools and this system… 1. People who failed the 11+ exam but showed strong practical skills often didn’t get opportunities to go to technical schools due to lack of funding. 2. Labelling students according to ability led to self – fulfilling prophecy (Labelling affects the way in which pupils think about themselves and how teachers treat them)
Later…. Comprehensive schools were introduced…Theses were opened in the 60s and were open to all children regardless of ability. The 11+ system was abolished although grammar schools still existed.
- Functionalists: Believe the schools teach key skills and knowledge necessary for society. They believe that education acts as a sieve, grading children according to their abilities and placing them in their most appropriate position in society.
- Marxists: Believe education reinforces the class system by ensuring poor children learn skills of low paid jobs. They believe that education doesn’t provide equal opportunities for everybody and that we are socialised to accept values of the most powerful group in society.
- Feminist: Believe education reinforces patriarchy by ensuring women learn lower paid job skills. They believe education provides different opportunities to girls and boys, pushing them into studying different subjects based on gender.
Secondary socialisation: Schools act as an agent of secondary socialisation not only through what is taught but also in the ways children learn.
The hidden curriculum: Are things that students are not aware they are learning. Such as…
- Competition: Schools encourage students to compete against each other
- Obeying rules and authority: Students learn to obey society through rewards and sanctions.
- Hierarchy: Students learn people are on different levels.
- Time management skills and order: Students learn how to time manage with their homework and getting to class and learn order through uniforms.
Social class and education: Middle class children do better in education then working class for a number of reasons…
- Cultural capital: Middle class students have more finance, support and encouragement.
- Better living conditions: Middle class likely have better diets, their own space to work in and access to internet giving them a better position to learn.
- Higher levels of aspiration: aim for higher status job (parents influence)
- Halo effect from (middle class) teachers: Middle class students seen as more intelligent because they share same norms and values as teachers. This leads to labelling and self fulfilling prophecy
- Peer values that encourage a more studious approach to school work: Students choose friends like them who share same norms and values. (Middle class having higher ambitions therefore will have more support from peers – typically)
Gender and education: On average girls do better than boys, although this was not the case in the past; feminist sociologists showed this was due to a change in ambitions. In the 1970’s girls said they wanted to get married and have a family rather than a career. When repeated in 1990’s the same researcher (Sue Sharpe) found that ambitions had changed and girls now wanted a career.
- There is now less restriction on the subjects boys and girls can study, and nowadays it is more acceptable for girls to go into jobs such as engineering and males jobs such as nursing – however the gender bias is not completely gone.
- Girls are more likely to take greater pride in their work – this may be linked to the greater values that girls place on personal appearance, which is encouraged by other institutions such as mass media.
- Some sociologists suggest that boys have developed an anti-school subculture. Where is is seen as “uncool” to work. However some girls are also apart of this culture, suggesting gender doesn’t matter.
Ethnicity and education: Research has shown that even when teachers don’t deliberately be racist, they still discriminate against children from ethnic backgrounds. This is because of their interpretation of differences in body language, speech, dress and style of walking. Some teachers may see this as a challenge to their authority.
Cultural deprivation: It has been argued some ethnic minorities and cultures such as Asians have more support and encouragement in their children’s education rather than Afro Caribbean, however other studies have criticised this idea. It has also been argued that some ethnic minorities under achieve as Elaborate code is not the language they use. What is elaborate code you may ask? Elaborate code is the language used in classrooms (Middle to upper class language) whereas many ethnic minorities use Restricted code which is lower to working class language consisting of basic language and slang.
Marketization of education: Is how schools are now run by free market forces. Doesn’t use tax payers funding any more; parents pay school fees. This was developed by Chub and Moe to improve educational standards and allow schools more freedom in how they spend their money.
Comprehensive school vs Independent school
- Try to break social barriers between class, gender and ethnic groups
- Offer opportunities to all students regardless of ability
- However accepting lower standards means those of higher levels will be slowed down or vice versa
- offer parent a limited choice
- have little funding so don’t have good facilities
- Smaller classes and better facilities result in better education
- better examination results
- more power to take action against disruptive pupils
- students likely to go to high status universities
- Students may have to travel long distances
- do not mix with people from different backgrounds
- only accessible to rich
- less able students may be held back
How are schools monitored?
- League tables: compare schools based on percentages of A* – C grades in GCSE and A levels.
- Ofsted inspections: check management, how well subjects are taught etc.
Old boys network this is a theory that many students from independent/ public schools are contained within their own social sub-culture known as the “Old boys network”. This ensures that all the best positions with higher status and power stay within small groups of families. They go to school together, work alongside each other, go to similar social events all to maintain the wealth and status of the group. Even when children who attend independent schools get worse results than those who attend state run schools – they still get better jobs in the end. Showing the corrupt system of how rich families get higher education then poor families.