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1 Addressing working class underachievement: Multiverse resource for ITE No rocket scientist.

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Presentation on theme: "1 Addressing working class underachievement: Multiverse resource for ITE No rocket scientist."— Presentation transcript:

1 1 Addressing working class underachievement: Multiverse resource for ITE No rocket scientist

2 2 Every Child Matters: New Labour policy initiative aimed at improving the coordination of services for children identified as vulnerable and raising their educational attainment. It states that: Doing well in education is the most effective route for young people out of poverty and disaffection.

3 3 The wider context: The gap between the richest and the poorest has not decreased since New Labour came to power There is no greater social mobility now than in the 1950s

4 4 How do you measure social class? Explanations of social class commonly refer to occupation and income Being middle class is often equated with professional status and linked to educational success Various classification systems exist

5 5 The National Statistics Socio- Economic Classification: 1 Higher managerial and professional occupations 2 Lower managerial and professional occupations 3 Intermediate occupations 4 Small employers and own account workers 5 Lower supervisory and technical occupations 6 Semi-routine occupations 7 Routine occupations 8 Never worked and long term unemployed

6 6 Problems with classification systems: Where do women fit in when you assess a household? How do you take account of patterns of employment which may vary over time - for instance as a result of caring responsibilities?

7 7 Free School Meals (FSM) as proxy for social class: FSM data is readily available to researchers FSM measures child poverty rather than social class Some families are reluctant to take up their entitlement to FSM The number of pupils on FSM is a factor in setting a schools budget as it is seen to be an indicator of the level of deprivation in a school Pupils on FSM are already identified as a group vulnerable to underachievement

8 8 Postcode Data: Sometimes used to target additional resources at children and families living in areas identified as suffering from the effects of poverty, disadvantage and social exclusion. Projects include: Sure Start which focuses on 0-4 year olds The Childrens Fund which focuses on 5-13 year olds.

9 9 Social and cultural capital: Bourdieu identifies forms of capital held by individuals and which contribute to social advantage Individuals who possess or acquire these forms of capital are able to reproduce their own privileged positions within society Academic qualifications are one form of capital.

10 10 Social class as process: Social class can be understood as a way of positioning others in relation to ourselves Issues of perspective become very important Much of this process is played out at an unconscious level

11 11 Deficit models and stereotypes: Being working class is often associated with lacking something: Middle class parents very often have respect for teachers - in a way that working class parents will not. (Teacher)

12 12 More favourable stereotypes: Being middle class is often associated with the possession of a more positive attitude to education: Middle class students on the whole value ideas as they have been taught to do so before they even reach the school gates. (Teacher trainee)

13 13 Middle class parents are: Likely to be proactive in addressing concerns and are able to use their knowledge of the education system to their advantage Likely to make active choices when selecting a school and to be influenced by League Tables and Ofsted reports (a factor which Head Teachers take account of) Likely to be viewed as an equal when talking with teachers and other professionals and to make effective challenges to practice

14 14 Working class parents are: Likely to be as focused on the advantages of a good education as middle class parents Less likely to be viewed as an equal partner when dealing with professionals and teachers Less likely to have knowledge and experience of the education system to use to their advantage

15 15 Evidence of social class inequities in education: The top 200 state schools in the country have a level of pupils on FSM averaging 3% as opposed to a national average of 14% 77% of pupils in England and Wales with parents in higher professional occupations gained five or more passes at GCSE grades A* to C in This compares with a figure of 32% for pupils with parents in routine occupations The practice of using previous attainment data to predict future achievement is likely to contribute to low expectations of, and outcomes for, working class pupils

16 16 Further research evidence: Working class pupils are over represented in bottom sets. In one school with 18% of pupils on FSM, a top set Maths group had 13% of pupils on FSM and a bottom set Maths group had 33% of pupils on FSM Teachers of top sets may have higher expectations of pupils and may experience fewer difficulties with classroom management

17 17 Further research evidence: Working class pupils are more likely to be offered vocational and alternative curriculum pathways which often prepare them for working class occupations. These are often accessed after a pupil has failed to access the mainstream curriculum successfully Working class pupils are disproportionately excluded from school. Exclusion is likely to reduce a pupils future life chances and increase the risk of involvement in offending behaviour

18 18 Barriers to learning - identified by teachers: Poor attitude, lack of motivation, low self esteem Failure to produce work Disruptive behaviour Poor attendance Lack of concentration Poor social skills Lack of ability Aspects of the pupils home life

19 19 A working class pupil: Very limited No rocket scientist Bound to get herself in to trouble. (Teacher)

20 20 Barriers to learning - factors identified by pupils: Teachers shouting Disruption caused by other pupils Inability to access a task due to difficulty or poor explanation Being unwilling or afraid to ask for clarification Not being stimulated by tasks Inconsistent or intimidating teaching styles Having a preference for learning styles not favoured by the teacher Insufficient competence in literacy

21 21 The ideal teacher: A kind friendly person you could talk to if you need someone to talk to. Persuasive if you dont want to do something … a nice personality and a calm voice … doesnt get angry or shouting and helps you with your work and interesting and does fun activities once in a while and can control the class. (Working class pupil)

22 22 Class fractions: There is no one group - the working class. Working class pupils do not all experience the disadvantages faced by working class pupils living in poverty. Viewing all working class pupils and parents as disadvantaged perpetuates negative stereotypes Single parents, especially those on low incomes or who did not achieve well at school themselves, may face particular difficulties in advocating for their children in the education system and may be disadvantaged by a lack of emotional and practical support.

23 23 Class and ethnicity: Minority ethnic parents often have high educational aspirations for their children Working class pupils of Bangladeshi and Pakistani origin experience less social mobility than those from other minority ethnic groups Working class pupils from Caribbean, African, Indian and Chinese communities experience greater social mobility than white working class pupils

24 24 Class and gender: A focus on underachieving boys conceals the fact that boys come from different social class backgrounds and that some (middle class) boys achieve well and some (working class) girls do not The attainment gap between boys and girls is smaller than that between working class pupils and middle class pupils

25 25 What teachers said about the social class of pupils: Some identified the social class of pupils Many made assumptions based on impressions Some said they didnt know the social class of pupils Most were reluctant to talk about pupils social class One teacher said it was distasteful to identify a pupils social class A few refused to identify a pupils social class

26 26 Reflective practice: Trainee teachers Future teachers Social justice


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