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Inequality, Social Mobility and Education Graham Downes.

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1 Inequality, Social Mobility and Education Graham Downes

2 Key questions 1.Who is achieving in school and what are the reasons for this? 2.Who are the losers in the process and why might that be? 3.What does the Spirit Level tell us about, social mobility, inequality and education?

3 Separating inequality and social mobility

4 Inequality Is the range between the richest in society and the poorest. Poverty in this country is measured in relative terms. In this country inequality is high i.e. the ga between the richest 10% and the poorest 10% is higher than most economically developed countries. You are defined as poor if you earn less than 60% of median earnings.

5 Social mobility People may move up or down the social ladder within their lifetime or from one generation to the next. That everyone has the same chance of moving up is what lies behind the idea of equality of opportunity. Social mobility can relate to an individual’s life opportunities or opportunities in relation to parents (inter generational)

6 Inequality A Marxist interpretation : Money = exchange value of labour. Profit= additional value added to exchange value. Workers cannot afford the cost of that which they produce. ‘Army of surplus wage earners’ (keep labour costs low). Case that unregulated markets cause inequality is contested by some economists.

7 The rise in inequality: an inevitable outcome?

8 Social mobility and markets Emphasis on competition and individual choice. Individuals responsible for the choices they make. Most able survive and generate wealth and opportunity for all. Perpetual revolution-individuals move up and down the social ladder according to the choices they make. Efficiencies of ‘frictionless market’ create greater wealth for all.

9 Linking Inequality and Social Mobility Increased social mobility creates greater competition and fairness. But, according to Marx, unfettered capitalism leads to greater inequality Keynesianism-state should provide ‘safety net’ to compensate those people who lose out in capitalist system. Is inequality acceptable in society that is socially mobile? Is the state morally responsible for providing security for all?

10 Inequality/Social mobility Yet inequality remains high, social mobility low. Rather than being ‘engines of social mobility’ (Gove, Sept 2010) schools mirror wider social patterns.

11 Correlations Between poverty and academic success: Eligibility for Free School Meals is strongly associated with low achievement. Between early achievement and academic success: Poor reading and writing scores at primary school are significantly associated with later low achievement. Disadvantage and quality of education: Disadvantaged students are more likely to attend poorly performing secondary schools. Between gender and academic success: Nearly half of all low achievers are white British males.

12 Access to HE “Private school students are 55 times more likely to win a place at Oxbridge and 22 times more likely to go to a top-ranked university than students at state schools who qualify for Free School Meals” Sutton Trust Dec 2010

13 Attainment “These stark university participation gaps are driven by significant gaps in attainment at GCSE level and before: pupils at fee- paying schools were three-and-a-half times more likely to attain five GCSE with grades A*-C including English and maths than the pupils from the poorest homes.” Sutton Trust Dec 2010

14 Complex relationships There is no correlation between ethnicity and attainment but there is between poverty and ethnicity. Between attainment and single parent families, unemployment and low parental qualifications but there is also a link with poverty.

15 Inequality’s early impact Children’s early cognitive development affected. Limited resources (buying books, visits, educational toys). Languages skills: less use of abstract language, less reading, singing, painting. Less likely to attend pre school (positively linked to attainment). Poverty and educational achievement (Anne West)

16 …early experiences at school don’t help Poorest bright children: 88 percentile to age 3 to 65th percentile at age 5. Richest least able children 15th percentile age 3 to 45th percentile age 5 Predicted children from affluent backgrounds who are doing poorly at age 3 would overtake the poorer but bright children age 7.

17 ….and it gets worse.. ‘The experiences of school for children from poorer families were narrower and less rich. For example, children in disadvantaged schools had limited access to music, art and out-of-school activities that children in advantaged schools generally took for granted.’ Source: The impact of poverty on young children’s experience of school (Horgan 2007).

18 ….and worse ‘All of the children agreed that education was important, but for different reasons. In advantaged schools, children saw education as a way of ensuring a good life as an adult. Children in disadvantaged schools were more likely to view education as a way of avoiding problems in the future.’ Source: The impact of poverty on young children’s experience of school (Horgan 2007).

19 …and worse ‘Children and parents identified the main costs of school as uniform (including shoes), lunches and school trips. Children in disadvantaged schools were very aware of all the costs and of the difficulties parents faced in finding as little as 50 pence or a pound for school events.’ Source: The impact of poverty on young children’s experience of school (Horgan 2007).

20 ….and worse Boys as young as nine in disadvantaged schools were disenchanted with school and starting to disengage. They are being particularly failed by the education system due to the interaction of: educational disadvantage faced by children growing up in poverty; the difficulties faced by teachers in disadvantaged schools; and differences in the ways that boys and girls are socialised Source: The impact of poverty on young children’s experience of school (Horgan 2007).

21 Why?

22 Social reproduction: Inequality reroduces inequality. Bourdieu’s three forms of capital: Economic capital: money, machinery, property, people. Cultural: pictures, books, dictionaries, instruments, curriculum, qualifications. Social: membership of a group defined by cultural capital. Market failures-monopolies, cartels etc.

23 Resistance Theory: Repression and Counter Culture ‘The difficult thing to explain about how middle class kids get middle class jobs is why other let them. The difficult thing about how working class kids get working class jobs is why they let themselves’ Paul Willis: Learning to Labour (1977).

24 Does Willis have a point? ‘Even though schools appear to reproduce the division of labour along class, sex and race lines, education shows greater equality than other major social institutions’ Carnoy and Levin (1986)

25 And what about the bits we can’t see? Discourse: spoken language is part of socially constructed activity. Discourse is predicated on socially constructed assumptions. Reification takes place. Assumptions create. Different social realities. Dominant discourses are predicated on power. chav parenting globalisation riots

26 Who is driving discourses on poverty? Identifiable characteristics of working class social groups: Mothers more likely to stay at home Families closer geographically Wider social support networks Children less ‘protected’

27 The Spirit Level: Does inequality matter? No - upwards mobility means a better quality of life: Life expectancy in Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Somalia, Malawi less than 50. Average earnings less than $10,000. Life expectancy in USA and UK over 70. Average earnings over $30,000 Spirit Level (p6)

28 The Spirit Level: Does inequality matter? Yes- all of us are becoming increasingly unhappy and performing less effectively: Average life expectancy not improving. Increased status differentials have impact on difference between life expectancy of rich and poor GDP slower than pre-neoliberalism. Performing badly on wellbeing indicators: wellbeing/ wellbeing/ The more unequal a society, the poorer it performs in international comparisons of education.

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