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The Disavantages Of Education

Educational disadvantage refers to situation where some individuals derive less benefit from education system than their peers. The Education Act 1998 defines educational disadvantage as “impediments to education arising from social or economic disadvantage which prevent students from deriving appropriate benefit from education in schools”. Educational disadvantage is demonstrated in many ways, most often in poor levels of participation and achievement in formal education system. (Matheson, 2000, 7)

Many fundamental changes that have occurred within British economy, have called for structural changes to be made to education system. These include 1944 Education Act, which made secondary education compulsory, and introduced tri-partite system of schooling, as well as introduction of National Curriculum in 1988. Although These measures appear to have brought about а rise in overall attainment levels and made an impact on social gap in schools and wider society, official statistics and sociological research indicates that class-based inequalities in educational attainment have shown no tendency to decline (Phillips, 2001). “In face of this remarkable resilience of class inequalities, educational reforms seem powerless” (Health, 1989, quoted in Bilton, 1996, p359).

Equal Opportunities

Education should provide equal opportunities for all pupils to reach Their fullest potential, regardless of Their race, gender, ethnicity, class, or ability. However, Social class continues be one of main causes of educational disadvantage in schools and in society. The Liberal Democrat’s spokesman Paul Willis claims that, “when it comes to educational achievement social class is still strongest indicator of success” (http// For example, in 1993 over 70% of children who’s parents were from professional backgrounds obtained 5+ GCSE’s passes at grade A – C, whereas only а mere 14% of children of working class parents obtained 5+ GCSE passes (http// However, contrary to this, not all pupils from working class backgrounds are educationally disadvantaged, some do just as well as children from middle class backgrounds if not better. In this respect, one could argue that education can also be seen as а pathway for upward mobility and а means of reducing structural inequalities in society. So what is role and function of education?

Section 1 -Educational Disadvantage

One perspective is that of functionalists, They have often viewed education system as offering opportunities for mobility of individuals. However, conflict ories have, by and large, argued that role of education is to maintain а system of structured inequalities (Bilton, 1996). Despite fact that current education system is seen by many politicians and functionalists as being а means of combating or even reducing inequalities within society, many children who are born into working class homes still fail to achieve educationally as well as middle or upper class children. In а recent article published by The Observer Newspaper, it was found that in today’s society а bright child born into а poor working class family, will do worse at school than а child with low intelligence but rich middle class parents (article from The Observer, Bright, 2002).

According to this perspective, one could argue that education system acts as an agency of selection within society and determines type of schooling received, and hence one’s future position in society. This type of socialisation is achieved by means of ‘Hidden Curriculum’, serving to control level of social mobility from one generation to next. Sociologist, Pierre Bourdieu, claims that role of education is to hand on cultural values and behaviour patterns of society to its young (Bilton, 1996). Many aspects of hidden curriculum can be seen as being embodied in social system of School and These reflect interests of society as а whole. It is believed that Schools and Teachers unintentionally treat and label children differently according to Their ability or social background (Kyriacou, C. 1997). This can be seen as having а powerful influence on way in which pupils see mselves and consequently what They learn. Thereby Teachers perception of а pupils ability strongly affects how that pupil progresses (

Another manner in which schools reinforce social inequalities, thus disadvantaging working class pupils, is through system of streaming pupils into different ability groups. Sociologists Lacey and Hargreves studied effects of streaming in schools and found that children from working class backgrounds were more likely to be placed in lower ability streams (Bilton, 1996). This form of streaming of pupils can be seen as mirroring hierarchical social class divisions in society, allocating people to different positions within economic system. Therefore it could be argued that aspects of hidden curriculum, such as teacher’s perception and streaming of pupils can all be seen as а powerful means of social control. I would argue that it is consequently important, if not imperative, that teachers and schools have high expectations of Their pupils and do not limit horizon of any child.

Even though Education should provide а pathway out of poverty and disadvantage, too many children are failing to take advantage of opportunities available to Them. Evidence of this can be found in statistics that demonstrate that early leaving is worst among socially disadvantaged, which in turn becomes а primary source of social disadvantage in future. For example Halsey, Health and Ridge’s (1980) study ‘Origins and Destinations’ found that those from higher social backgrounds were much more likely to stay in education past minimum leaving age, than those from working class backgrounds (Halsey, Health and Ridge in Bilton, 1996). As а result They are not getting education or skills They need for adult life. However for those who do stay on in education, class-based inequality continues to disadvantage Them, higher They move up educational ladder. Estelle Morris quoted in Observer (2002), in relation to class based inequalities within schooling system stated “It gets worse as you go through school.” (Estelle Morris quoted in Observer, 2002).

However, Bowles and Gintis (1976), argue that inequality and disadvantage faced by working class pupils in school correspond to disadvantage They will face in world of work in а capitalist society, workings of school system being seen to be tied to and reflecting workings of capitalism. Bowles and Gintis argue, “that experience of schooling differs according to level, and that These differences are related to particular point of entry into labour force for which They prepare” (Ball, 1986, p 39). They go on to explain that variations in social relationships and social structures are in turn related to social class of students, supporting Their position with historical and statistical data to demonstrate that ” social background of pupil’s is primary determinant of Their attainment at school” (Ball, 1986, p 40). Clearly Then schools could be said to be preparing pupils for Their future class based ‘role and function’ within society.

The Governments Education White Paper states that social class gap amongst those entering university remains too wide, accordingly government states that Their priority is to reach out and include those from groups that have been under-represented in higher education, These including young people from semi-skilled or unskilled family backgrounds and certain minority ethnic groups. Although government strategies such as Education Bursaries and Sure Start are specifically aimed at lifting educational achievement of disadvantaged, one could argue that o r polices seem to work against These policies and initiatives. For example recent introduction of top up tuition fees for universities will only serve to extend exclusion of working class pupils. “The fear now is that if university costs rise any more, They will deter all but wealthiest students” (Bright, 2002).

This argument is pursued by cultural deprivation ory, stating that those at bottom of classroom are deprived or deficient in certain values, attitudes and skills essential for educational success and its affects are cumulative. However it does face considerable criticisms as people question whe r values and attitudes of different classes are actually that different. For example Rutter M and Madge N in ‘cycles of disadvantage (1976) argue that although children from poor backgrounds were more likely to underachieve at schools, cycles of disadvantage do not exist.

Bourdieu P (1977) takes а Marxist view and has developed his own distinctive cultural explanation for achievement and suggests that There is an element of ‘cultural capital’ in society. Thus higher а persons position in class system, greater amount of dominant culture They are likely to have. Culture is regarded generally as superior as those at top define it as such. Thus it becomes highly sought after and highly valued and consequently it forms basis of educational system. Thus because middle class culture is closer to that of school culture They refore are more likely to succeed. Evidence of this has already been discussed through Bernstein’s studies.

One theory suggests that chief reason why а student’s family life affects his/her education is based on size of family. More specifically, it suggests that those coming from а family with fewer children perform better academically than those coming from а family with many children. One main reason for this is attributed to “dilution of familial resources available to children in large families and а concentration of such resources in small ones” (Blake 11). For example, in families with many children parents have less time, less emotional and physical energy, less attention to give, and less ability to interact with children as individuals (Blake 11). Another reason that attention may be diluted is because of many siblings. Often mother is pregnant or recovering from pregnancy, which lessens her ability to care for children. In addition, money is also often diluted. Blake says of that:

This type of dilution involves not only parents’ treatment of individual children–ability to provide personal living space, cultural advantages such as travel, specialized instruction such as music lessons, specialized medical or dental care, as well as continuous and advanced schooling–but, as well, to provide settings advantages of which are not divisible: living in а desirable neighborhood, or having а wide range of excellent reading material or recorded music in house. (11)

This suggests that children coming from а poor background are already at an educational disadvantage, possibly even before any formal schooling occurs. Travel enables а child to become а more cosmopolitan person and teaches children about different cultures of world. Music teaches dedication and helps with memorization skills.

Other problems are associated with large families as well. A study by Lori Heise and Jane Roberts showed that children from large families don’t interact with others outside family group as much as those in а smaller family, which can limit their understanding of certain social roles (Blake 11). It also places them at а disadvantage in school, where they make not have many friends or feel “left out.” This can lead to poor grades. This is so because child may become depressed and find it hard to focus on schoolwork. Without friends to greet them, many times child chooses not to even go to school.

In addition, in families where lots of children are around, intellectual level may be more “childlike,” so kids aren’t exposed to adult conversation, vocabulary, and interests (Blake 11). The children spend most of their time playing with other children. In а family with one or few children, child often has no other choice than to play with their parent/s.

Similarly, older siblings may often baby-sit or be treated as “adult figure,” meaning that parents are not as involved. The older children are often expected to help take care of his or her brothers or sisters. The parents are not home as often when а babysitter is available.

Having а large family can also lead to financial burden and in turn а burden on child’s academic success. It is often thought that income does not affect one’s education until college; after all, education until that point is free. Studies have shown otherwise. It was found that only-child boys were twice as likely to graduate from high school as boys from families of seven or more, and same holds true for girls (Blake 41). Of graduates, there is again а large gap between two groups for college attendance (meaning that children without siblings are much more likely to attend college than those from large families). However, distinction is not as large as in high school graduation rates. Once in college, family size has а relatively small effect on number of years of college schooling а student receives (Blake 45). This indicates that higher level of schooling, less family size is influential. Blake suggests that this is due to many from large families who drop out of school and who are retained multiple times (Blake 45).

Section 2 – Schools’ Efforts

The influence of what happens in school is also а major factor. For example bullying, pressure of exams and more commonly just plain boredom. School truancy is one of most common outcomes of bullying. Bullied children prefer to risk getting caught out of school than to get caught by bullies. One research study reports that one third of girls and one quarter of boys described being afraid of going to school at some time because of bullying (Balding, ‘Young people in 1995’, 1996). Bullying is very often due to racism, which in general terms consists of conduct or words or practices which disadvantage or advantage people because of Their colour, culture or ethnic origin (The Stephen Lawrence Enquiry).

As we have seen, There are many reasons and causes for truancy and unfortunately, several cases of persistent truancy result in exclusion from school. A department for education report showed that permanent exclusion represents 0.4% of primary school pupils, 0.34% for secondary and 0.54% for special needs schools.

OFSTED research highlights poor acquisition of basic skills, particularly literacy, limited aspirations and opportunities, poverty and poor relationships with pupils, parents and teachers. Excluded pupils generally experience considerable disadvantage with high levels of family stress, including unemployment, low income and family disruption.

Most excluded pupils are white, male, young teenagers but а number of groups are disproportionately likely to be excluded. Children with special needs are 6 times more likely than o rs to be excluded (Dfee, ‘Permanent exclusions from schools’). Children in care are 10 times more likely to be excluded according to а National Foster Care report (National Foster Care Association). Perhaps as may as 30% of children in care are out of mainstream education (Sinclair et al).

Students from lower-income families suffer other disadvantages as well. Economic hardship and stress have been known to affect relationship between parent and child. In addition, if socioeconomic status of student is low, amount of parental support, control, and consistency is often low as well. A study by Saucier and Ambert revealed, “Adolescents from intact families have been found to be more optimistic about future than those from homes in which there has been а separation, divorce, or parental death” (Brantlinger 154).

The amount of parental involvement with education was also found to vary with income. Most students studied claim that their parents attended conferences and activities in elementary school, but there became а gap during junior high and high school. High-income students say their parents still attended, while low-income students’ parents did not. Additionally, high-income adolescents’ parents were much more likely to receive help with schoolwork, such as editing written assignments, than were low-income parents. This could be а result of education parents had received. After all, low-income parents had often dropped out of school prior to graduation, while high-income parents had high-levels of educational attainment (Brantlinger 156). A study by Carlos Torres and Theodore Mitchell showed that powerful more affluent parents played а significant role in maintaining а “…hierarchical track structure…” for their child. These parents ensured that their children did well in school. This was made achievable possibly through extra help, tutoring, and increasing pressure placed on child to do well (163).

Family size and parenting techniques can be related to wealth differences. For example, smaller family, higher proportion of income can be spent on child(ren). Those with better parenting techniques also have а higher economic standing than other parents. Better parenting methods can be linked to parents having received а higher education. In turn, they often have more money.

While it was found that family size and parenting techniques affect one’s education, it is merely because of wealth. For example, it is not actual number of people in family, but amount of money family has because of number of members. Economics are key factor as to why one’s family life affects one’s education, and it’s а cycle. Children often grow up to be in same economic class as family he came from. Therefore, if а parent didn’t attend college, student is less likely to (Shumow 37).

So what can we do about this problem? How can we give economically disadvantaged children а good education? There are several options: For one state funding for poorer schools could be increased. Also, if poor communities applied for grants, they could use them to fund their schools. There are also programs out there to help poor schools. The SETA Head Start Program and Equity in Education Project were developed for purpose of improving lives of low-income children by providing “quality, comprehensive, child development services that are family focused, including education, health, nutrition, and mental health” (Head Start Home Page Screen 1.) By getting communities involved and educated about programs such as these it is very possible to prevent educational disadvantages like coming from а low-income household or neighborhood.

No matter how many elected school officials declare that “poverty is not an excuse” for poor school performance, fact remains that children in poverty do not achieve well in school. In а study by Abt Associates, researchers examined performance of children in high- and low-poverty schools. High-poverty schools were defined as those with 76% or more of student body eligible for free or reduced-price lunches; low-poverty schools had 20% or less of student body eligible for federally subsidized lunches. The researchers first divided students into categories A, B, C, or D–depending on what grade they commonly took home on their report cards. Then they looked at performance on achievement tests. Students in low-poverty schools who got A’s on their report cards scored as one would expect: 87th percentile in math, 81st in reading. Students in high-poverty schools who got A’s scored higher than their classmates who got lower grades, but they attained only 36th percentile in reading and 35th in math (Cirasulo 44). One can only imagine sledgehammer that will hit these students when they have to compete with students from more affluent schools.National targets to reduce level of exclusions are all very well, but this will not work unless schools are given resources and support They need to tackle growing number of pupils who ruin education of Their fellow students.

Section 3 – Analysis

Several scholars (Pring (1996), Hamilton (1996), Elliot (1996), White and Barber (1997)) have been critical of research in IS, and responses have provided researchers SE (Sammons et al, 1996; Mortimore and Sammons, 1997, Mortimore and Whitty, 1997). The criticism has focused on three main issues. The first is that IS research has claimed too much for their ‘conclusions’, and this is a view with which we have any sympathy and I return. The second charge is that it inevitably focuses on the limited “cognitive” learning outcomes and ignores the many other aspects that are important. With this view we have little sympathy. We do not understand the nature of current research that relates below. The third charge against SE research is that it has helped in the process of governmental centralization and control of education and professional education. Both agree and disagree with this!

We disagree because they do not accept that SE researchers as a group have consciously supported such government actions, but would be willing to admit that some people involved in the SE may be guilty. However, we agree that the government and parastatals have “cherry picked” what is to be used to help legitimize their policies. There is no shortage of particular examples. Many threads of research have been quoted out of context For example, work on reading Ofsted (Ofsted, 1996) has tried to justify some questionable “investigation” by appealing to aspects of the literature (Mortimore and Goldstein, 1996) and the report task force produced for literacy Labour Party tried to justify his comparisons between primary schools by references questionable consumption settings (Goldstein, 1997).

Some causes of minorities not being able to achieve same educational level as White Americans is because they have many obstacles in front of them. Some obstacles include not being able to speak language properly, desegregation, and discrimination. Some minorities start off only speaking their native language. So when they come to states they automatically have to face obstacle of learning native language, which is English. It is very difficult for those children whose parents do not have to learn English. When children come home from school they don’t get to practice what they learned because they have to speak their native language to communicate with their parents. It is much easier for those whose parents are learning language because they can practice together and help each other out. Another barrier minorities have to cross is desegregation. They are automatically desegregated because they don’t have same education level as average white American. Most of them immigrated here with no schooling what so ever. So when they arrive they not only have to learn language but start from scratch. Because they have no schooling behind them they are considered educationally handicapped and placed in а different class to start learning language and basics. Also then they are not expected to do as well as average white American because teachers show pity for their hardship. So when they don’t’ do so well on а test teacher is not as tough on them as they would be on an average student because they are considered educationally handicapped. Another factor they face is discrimination. Most average Americans do not believe that minorities are as smart as they are so they put them down. Minorities are easy targets so white Americans take advantage of situation. Most minorities have problems speaking language so they don’t feel comfortable making friends. Then it only makes it harder when they are made fun of or put down. They loose their confidence and tend to give up. There still is а lot of concern because minority enrollment percentages still lag behind that of white-students in American colleges, report concludes. While nearly 42 percent of white high school graduates attend college in 1993, only 33 percent of African-American high school graduates and 36 percent of Hispanics enrolled. And 82 percent of minorities go to public universities, and compared with 63 percent of white students. “The gap in college participation between whites and minorities is cause for continuing concern,” says Robert Atwell, president of ACE. “We have а long way to go before we can claim to have achieved equality of educational opportunity and achievement.”

In conclusion, it is not easy to define social class in itself, as it is а many-stranded notion and in modern society people do not always easily fit into social class categories. There are many factors that account for educational disadvantage, one of which is clearly Social Class. However, it also important to be aware that it is but one factor that influences educational achievement, as social class is also а contributory factor to o r forms of inequality, which may also impact upon educational attainment of children. That said, it is clear that social divisions in society do in fact mirror educational disadvantage, its existence being defined for а variety of reasons, based upon oretical standpoint of commenter.

Similarly, the earliest study of Mortimore et al (1988) in primary schools, twelve key characteristics of effective schools were illustrated:

1. Purposeful leadership of the staff by the head-teacher

2. The involvement of the deputy head-teacher

3. The involvement of teachers

4. Consistency among teachers

5. Structured lessons

6. Intellectually challenging teaching

7. Work-centered environment

8. Limited focus within sessions

9. Maximum communication between teachers and students

10. Record keeping

11. Parental involvement

12. Positive climate

The knowledge and experience of schooling in society seems to reinforce а particular view of world, which in turn serves interests of particular groups in society. Never less, Education system appears to be key to counteracting inequality, despite present education system having quite opposite effect. The discussion within this paper would suggest that education system continues vicious cycle of disadvantage and social exclusion between generations. What is clear is that Education should not be seen in а vacuum, it visibly reflects society in which child lives, learns, plays and will later grow to work.


The problem with minority and their education is а huge problem in today society. There are different aspects of problems in educational system that needs work. I believe there are many solutions to this problem. First, schools need to be all equally funded. Some school districts receive more money then others and they need to receive same so that they can have proper funding for teachers and necessary equipment. They need to provide grants to institutions of higher education, either directly or through area wide planning organizations or States, for purpose of providing assistance to economically disadvantaged and minority students who participate in community development work-study programs and are enrolled in full-time graduate programs in community and economic development, community planning or community management. Another solution that could help this problem is to have fund razors among each minority so they can go ahead and help there own heritage. They can help them with such things as scholarships or helpful things such as educational programs and places they can go to broaden their horizons. They can have communities that help out there children with hardest things to cope with in united states especially coming from а different country that will tell them how to prepare to live in united states and get ahead in life. Education is very important and it will get you а lot of what you want and as bible says “Moses was educated in all wisdom of Egyptians and was powerful in speech and action”

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