Dave Spencer explores the reasons for working-class under-achievement in the British education system.
There is an iron law in the sociology of education which states that the working class in Britain do badly in the education system. A recent study by the Sutton Trust should therefore come as no surprise. It found that over 2007-9 five elite private schools sent 946 students to Oxbridge whereas 2,000 comprehensives sent 927 between them. No surprise too at the recent UCU survey of educational attainment in various parliamentary constituencies. They found that 12.1% of people have no qualifications and 29% have degree level or above. But this varied considerably from area to area with some working-class areas having over 30% with no qualifications.
The basic question of course is – why do the working class do so badly? At one time there was a straightforward argument between Nature and Nurture, genetics or environment. It is difficult to argue these days, as some psychologists did in the 1960s, that the reason women and blacks did badly in the education system and society in general is because they are less intelligent. But many people still assume that the reason working class children do badly in the education system is because genetically they do not have the ability. Elitism or the idea that the people at the top of our class hierarchy are there because they are more intelligent is still alive and well. Just look at the smug buggers on the Coalition front bench! Continue reading “why is there class in the classroom?”