Educational Attainment of Children in Early Years

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Analyse the potential impact of gender influences upon educational achievement

Explain the potential impact of cultural influences upon educational achievement in relation to academic achievement


Introduction- 100 words

Social class

Theory of Social Class

Defining the term of ‘class’ can be difficult and has changed over the years, there have become more areas to link about including the social and cultural position of a person including their interests, also the status of people they interact with (Savage et al, 2015) .  Categorising people based on their economic position in society has a huge impact on their individual lives especially their education. It can be known that he higher your class the more power, status and influence you have in the economy and society. But why should your class define your future or the future of the children. Belmi and Laurin (2016) stated that social class is conceptualised as consisting of both individuals’ material and social resources, such as their income and education, as well as their perceptions of their resources compared with others’

The impacts of social class on educational attainment and achievement, Karl Marx and his theory of Marxism is important to take into consideration. The theory is complex, and societies include two main social classes that struggle over the means of production (Healey, 2014).

Marx’s theory of two social classes was changed by Weber’s theory arguing that ‘inequality was more complex and included dimensions other than just the economic’ (Healey, 2014) He believed that individuals could be part of a social class in some ways and not in others, which made it more complex, which is backed up by savage, 2015 where he believed that there is more than one area to take into consideration but placing people into a social class. Foucault believed that ‘power is diffuse rather than related to the means of production’ (Cole, 2012). Both arguing that social class is a widespread area and the individuals within the system cannot rely on their level of production in areas including social, economic and cultural.

Environment influences

Taking into consideration the influences that effect a child including the environment which surrounds them and the socio-cultural which embraces their family morals and background. Looking at the comparison between childrenwho live in families with more financial resources and the less advantaged children who face a higher risk of developing a variety of socioemotional problems, which may include. depression, levels of sociability and initiative, problematic peer relations, and disruptive classroom behaviors (Eamon, 2001). Bronfenbrenner (1977) proposed an ecological systems model of the lifelong progressive influences an individual makes to the changing environments in which they develop. Bronfenbrenner’s proposed model which includes the microsystem of the home environment, stress-coping theory and family process models frequently are used to explain the socioemotional developmental effectsof poverty. The structures of the ecological environment serve as a framework for this analysis of theories that explain the processes by which economic deprivation affects children'ssocioemotionaldevelopment.

‘Class is truly powerful: It links to the way in which how people define themselves, the kinds of activities in which they will participate, the choices they will make, and the goals they will pursue’(Belmi and Laurin, 2016).


Bourdieu’s version of fieldtheory has had an impressive impact on the ways that sociologists of education conceptualize educationalpractices (Ferrare and Apple, 2015). Bourdieu’s theory includes capital, habitus, field and doxa. There are many forms of capital which includes economic, social and cultural that have an influence on children.

The primary habitus being the family around a child, this impacts the individual viewing of themselves in a certain way including ‘well educated parents pass on to their children – knowingly or not – the capacity for them to succeed at school or university’ (Savage, 2015) and in other families the individual could have little or no aspirations due to their parental influence and this could be all they know which may allow the child to have low expectations.

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British values are a set of values in which children are expected to follow in an educational environment, although it stems from the family habitus which have the first influence on child. An important way of teaching values is to model them: if learners know that their opinions are valued, that people who are older and more powerful than them listen to what they say, those learners will then listen to others who are even less powerful than themselves (Coleman and Glover, 2010).

The secondary habitus being education which can either try and reinforce what the family/environment habitus believes in or they can try to change it. ‘Children’s life experiences, both in and out of school, have profound effects on their achievement in school and their functioning in society’ (Eshach, 2006) having an overall supportive habitus is important to ensure a child’s full potential can be achieved to their highest ability.

The field in which this all happens is a ‘social space in which interactions, transactions and events occurred’ (Grenfell, 2014).

Along with the Doxa of those spaces as ‘unquestioned “shared beliefs” constructive of the field’ (Grenfell, 2014). Within an educational provision the doxa can be difficult for pupils to comply as they are at a disadvantage due to behavioural or special educational needs.

Socio- economic classes and Gender

Understanding Gender

Sociologists have a view sex and gender which is theoretically different. A person’s sexrefers to physiological differences between males and females, this includes the primary sex characteristics, (the reproductive system). Whereas genderis a term that refers to social or cultural distinctions associated with being male or female. Gender identity is the extent to which one identifies as being either masculine or feminine (Diamond 2002).

History of gender Inequalities within education

The education of children within the nineteenth century was organised by social class, although policy making has traditionally been exclusively masculine within its assumptions and structure (Cole, 2012). For example, there were fewer school places for girls (Hurt, 1979). Although girls were less likely to be sent to school (Martin,1987). A big change within education was that the two sexes did not have access to a common curriculum. One example was it was compulsory for girls in 1862 to learn needle work, girls were graded a lower standard of achievement in arithmetic because of the time they spent sewing (Weiner, 1994; Digby and Searby, 1981). In 1878, theoretical domestic economy which included cookery became a compulsory specific subject for girls. By the 1890s, a significant expansion in the curriculum prescriptions for working-class girls saw the inclusion of laundry work and housewifery. Despite the addition of male craft subjects like woodwork, Turnbull (1987, p. 86) concludes that working-class boys ‘did not receive practical instruction equivalent to the girls’ needlework, cookery, laundry work and so on’.

In 1944, the Education Act established the belief of universal and free education for all children over 11 years of age (Cole, 2012) this led to girls being able progress in education. During the 1940’s and 50’s, girls were required to make extraordinary development in order to get into grammar schools, although it was evident that ‘girls frequently scored better marks than boys’ (Cole, 2012) putting them at an advantage.

During the time of the labour government, it saw the passing of the Sex Discrimination Act 1975 by Harold Wilson it was stated ‘direct and indirect discrimination on the grounds of gender illegal…including education’ (Carter, 1988). Although much had been done to attempt a shift in typical gender roles, ‘Girls participation in science is highly influenced by their gender identity’ (Bamberger, 2014). Even in the present day, educational provisions are trying to get girls into heavily male dominated curriculum subjects and careers with the use of science, technology, engineering and math.

In the 1990’s, educational provisions saw the release of school league tables, it was advised that ‘boys have constantly outnumbered girls as “low achievers” by three to two’ (Perry and Francis, 2010). The gap that had been shown within the attainment between boys and girls is still prominent in today education.

Gender stereotypes

‘Stereotypes have often been assumed to be a source of teacher expectations’ and the ‘teachers’ stereotypes would interact with students’ gender to predict teacher expectations’ (Muntoni and Retelsdorf, 2018). As practitioners within an educational provision it is their responsibility to have a high expectation of all children no matter their background or ability within the classroom, which may put them at a disadvantage. As stated by Binet and Simon’s (Claiborne et al, 2009) theories of intelligence ‘Students who were not seen to be masters of the required tasks of schooling were excluded or withdrawn from mainstream classrooms and placed in 'special' classes and schools.’

One of the most common stereotypes from society about education (Jones, 2005), is the perceptions of the underachievement of girls within education in the light of the overwhelming attention that is given to the underachieving boy of the classroom. Plummer (2000) argues that the underachievement of girls, and in particular working‐class girls, is masked because attention that has been focused almost exclusively on the behaviour and performance of boys.

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‘Poverty, gender, ethnicity and household composition have all been associated with various abilities of school-based competence among American children. For instance, being male, of minority ethnic status and growing up in low income, single parent homes have all been associated with the higher frequency of behaviour problems and psychological disorder and except for gender with lower academic achievement in school’ (Patterson et al, 1990)


Socio- economic classes and Cultural influences

‘Race’ and ‘Ethnicity’

The use of the term ‘race’ refers to classifying different groups within the human species by their peripheral physical characteristics for example, skin colour, hair colour and facial features. Whereas the term ‘ethnicity’ is used to classify groups according to their culture, including their nationality.

Cultural impact on education

‘While learning about the world around them children pick up both positive and negative attitudes and behaviour’ (Brown, 1998), Children are highly influence by the views of those around them, firstly from their microsystem. Historically, racialsocialization has focused on how black parents prepare children for experiences of racial discrimination (Bowman and Howard,1985; Peters, 2002; Rollins and Hunter, 2013). Research has shown, whiteupper-middle-class parents construct different racialcontexts for their children, which are often informed by their own raciallogic and parenting priorities. Children interact within these contexts, interpreting the social world around them and producing ideas about race as a result (Hagerman, 2013). The difference in white children's racial common sense, which can be demonstrated by children who participate in their own socialization through interactions within a racialcontext, a view on the social reproduction of ideology that includes children's agency (Hughes, 2003; Corsaro, 2011). It is important when considering how ideological positions on race can be reworked rather than reproduced by parental views through education.

Dicuss eye of the storm and how it is still relevant in todays educations


Racism in the UK- Cole.M

Hard to reach parents or hard to reach schools – Crozier.G

Vincent et al (2013) Three generations of racism

Hangerman (2013) White families and race

Lynn ang (2007) cultural diversity




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Cultural vs Economic Capital:

Symbolic Boundaries within

the Middle Class

Vegard Jarness

Cultural vs Economic Capital:

Symbolic Boundaries within

the Middle Class

Vegard Jarness



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