Posts Tagged ‘education’
The relationship between social class – or socio-economic status (SES) if you prefer – and differential educational achievement is well-known at A-level and students are expected to discuss and evaluate a range of possible factors / explanations for this relationship; these are usually grouped, largely for theoretical convenience, into “outside school” and “inside school” factors, each involving a range of material and cultural factors. The latter, for example, conventionally include things like:
- Type of School (private, grammar, comprehensive…)
- Teacher Attitudes that involve ideas about labelling and self-fulfilling prophecies
- Ability grouping – practices such as streaming, setting and banding.
- Social inclusion / exclusion – for example, physical exclusion / suspension as well as self-exclusion (truancy).
- Pro-and-anti school subcultures.
Although each of these is arguably significant, they reflect a rather piecemeal approach to explaining educational achievement differences, particularly those of social class.
One way of pulling some – if not necessarily all – of these strands together is through the concept of school climate; this encompasses a range of material and cultural organisational factors focused on “the school” that, proponents argue, foster academic achievement.
I recently came across this interesting set of guides for the AQA Spec., written by Lydia Hiraide of The BRIT School.
The guides are dated 2013 – and although I’m not sure how they might fit into the latest Specification, I’m guessing there’s going to be a lot here that’s still relevant.
You can download the following guides in pdf format:
As you might expect from a Sociology department consistently ranked as outstanding by Ofstead their approach is:
- Thorough – the booklet includes a comprehensive set of revision notes.
- Informative – the document is annotated with helpful suggestions about how to demonstrate various assessment objectives in written exam answers.
While it’s probably fair to say that teacher-created GCSE revision resources are a bit thin on the ground (and take a bit of finding), there are useful resources “out there” if you’re prepared to do a lot of searching. To save you the time and trouble, here’s some I found earlier (the quality’s a bit variable, but needs must etc.):
Unit 2 Topics – keywords / concepts
Unit B671 (Sociology Basics) Revision: Methods / Culture / Socialisation / Identity
And if you want something to add to your classroom walls, they’ve also produced some basic Sociology posters:
Distil topic notes into key knowledge points, add illustrative examples and brief overviews of advantages and disadvantages, throw in some exam tips and short “test yourself” questions, call it a factsheet and sell it at a very reasonable price to teachers – which is exactly what the Curriculum Press (http://www.curriculum-press.co.uk) has done.
If you want samples of the various factsheets (their web site lists around 160), there are a few scattered around the web that I’ve cobbled together and presented here for your viewing pleasure: (more…)
A few more pdf pages from the inestimable pen of Mark Peace that, in no particular order (and with no particular logic), cover the following:
- A basic structure for students to follow when making notes about the different kinds of evidence they can use to support or question theoretical explanations for differential educational achievement.
- A standardised format for sharing information around the class electronically (using Padlet / Google Drive for example).
- A basic structure for students to follow when examining different theories of differential educational achievement. It allows them to record information in a simple, consistent, way.
- If you’re sharing information around the class electronically (using the Padlet / Google Drive options I suggested, for example) the summary sheet represents a standardised format that will be consistent across all students.
- identifying a range of theories that can be used to explain differential educational achievement across and within categories of class, gender and ethnicity.
- identifying and collecting evidence that can be used to test (support or refute) the various theories examined.
The accompanying PowerPoint is designed to help you develop this structure and while it’s not essential it can help to both set and explain the scene by introducing the idea of suspects, theory development and evidence gathering at the core of the sim.
These short files provide brief coverage of the main signposts in the history of English education, from the first Education Act in 1870 to the major curriculum reforms introduced by the Thatcher Conservative government in 1988 (the Act came into force in 1990).
As you might expect, the rapid – and I do mean fast – educational changes that have taken place since 1988 have made some of this Stuff outdated in the sense of having been discarded or replaced by more-recent changes, and if you use it you’ll need to point-out to students Stuff that’s no-longer current; it is, however, generally useful as an important part of our understanding of the historical development of the education system in our society.
A long, long, time ago, when the Internet was still young, there existed a web site, created by Mark Peace, called Sociology Stuff. This web site specialised in producing high quality sociology stuff (hence the name. Probably. I’m guessing) for a few years before Mark got bored or went off to do a PhD or something and the site just disappeared, along with all the stuff it contained. Which was a shame.
Luckily, someone who shall be nameless (but we’ll call “Chris” because that’s actually his name) saved a lot of this stuff onto one of his many hard drives and forgot about it. Either because he was Very, Very, Busy (the official version). Or because he was just a little bit jealous and wanted to keep all the Stuff for himself (the version I’m leaning toward).
The development of Academy schools and Multi-Academy Trusts (MATs) to oversee the management of such schools has been a well-documented dimension of the marketisation of education in England and Wales over the past 20 years. As such, when writing about the New Right and / or marketisation in an exam this is an obvious example to note.
What may be less obvious, however, is an idea noted by Warwick Mansell (Is reputation a touchy subject for chain?) when he suggests branding – how “the public” perceive a particular chain of schools and the impact this might have on student recruitment – has become a significant factor in relation to the management of some schools.
“An academy chain considered declining to take over a struggling school because of the potential risk to its “brand”, a document released under freedom of information reveals.
The minutes of a meeting in February of the E-ACT trust’s audit and risk committee show senior staff and trustees worrying that the unnamed Bristol school’s “poor exam results could trigger an Ofsted inspection”, which would lead to a “requires improvement” judgment after the takeover “resulting in damage to E-ACT brand”.
In the end, E-ACT did take on a Bristol primary it now names Hareclive academy, approved by the DfE. It says the discussion about its brand was all part of its “due diligence” and it was pleased to have received the department’s vote of confidence.
But the concentration on “brand” may be seen by some as another manifestation of increasing commercialisation in schools. And some might wonder why E-ACT was allowed to expand after Ofsted warned, just weeks before the meeting that it was providing too many of its pupils with a “not good enough” education. The chain lost control of 10 schools in 2014 after an earlier Ofsted report, so its reputation may be a touchy subject.”
The final offering in what no-one’s calling “The Wonderful Week of Sims” is designed to give students practical experience of social inequality based on the unequal distribution of economic resources (wealth) – the eponymous “cake” of the title. While this can be an end in itself – a central part of the sim is the physical segregation of students within the same classroom – it can also be the building block for an examination of the possible consequences of such inequality.
I’ve long been interested in the idea of using simulations (and games – see Disclaimer below) as teaching tools – see, for example, a couple of online efforts I created many moons ago when the Internet was still young and frames seemed such a good idea:
- Education and Differential Achievement: The Sociological Detective http://www.sociology.org.uk/revtece1.htm
Although the game is incomplete it should convey the overall idea that “studying sociology” at A-level can be a bit like being a detective – you identify “suspects”, develop theories to explain social phenomena and collect / evaluate different types of evidence.
- Crime, Deviance and Methods: The Great Chocolate Bar Theft http://www.sociology.org.uk/game1.htm (be aware the email answers part of the sim will not work for technical reasons that are just too boring to bother explaining)
One of the problems, aside from having the time and ability to think them up, has always been the difficulty of finding materials that not only delight, surprise and occasionally befuddle students but which also have teaching content that repays all the time and effort required to set-up and use them effectively in the classroom.
The Internet has, to some extent, made this easier in terms of finding stuff and it has to be noted that just about everything that’s presented here has been invented by someone other than myself. Where I know who created the materials they’re given appropriate credit but in some instances I don’t have the first idea about the identity of their creator, so if you are that person I’d just like to say “Sorry”, “Thank You” and “I’ve hidden all my money in off-shore trusts, so don’t bother suing”.
Labelling is a staple theory in the sociology of crime – both in its own right (Becker’s concept of the Outsider, for example) and in terms of its incorporation into other theoretical explanations (Radical Criminology, for example) – and in this ShortCut Professor Sandra Walklate outlines some of the theory’s key ideas:
- Social interaction and shared understandings
- Labelling process
- Social contexts
- Social reaction
- Primary and secondary deviation
- Tolerance levels
- Deviant labels
- Self-worth and self-identity
Differences in UK educational achievement are normally categorised across three main dimensions – class, gender and ethnicity – of which the former is generally seen by sociologists of education as the primary determinant of achievement differences (as measured by exam grades), while gender and in some instances ethnicity is generally preferred by politicians and media commentators – Our schools are failing boys, which is bad news for Britain – for reasons that shouldn’t be too difficult to understand (although that, perhaps, is a story for another time).
Ken Browne (Sociology for AQA, Vol. 1: AS and 1st-Year A Level), for example, captures this often-complex hierarchy by structuring achievement in terms of class (the primary determinant), with gender and ethnicity as secondary determinants. As can be seen from this graphic the argument here is that differences in educational achievement are primarily class-based (upper class children achieve more than working class children) with gender / ethnic gradations within each class.
This graphic is helpful because it provides a simple visual representation that allows students to understand not just within-class differences, (between for example boys and girls) but also cross-class differences; upper class boys, for example, generally achieve more than working class girls. By understanding this students should be able to construct more-nuanced answers to questions about differential achievement.
Taking It Further? (more…)
Our handy round-up of all the sociology and psychology links we think you’ll like. Probably.
All the links that caught our eye this past week in one handy post…
Wealth, Poverty, Welfare
- Talk the Walk
At this point students need to get to grips with learning the basics of research methods. How you organise this is up to you, but one way is to get students to take ownership of their learning:
• Brief overview of the method
• Primary / secondary data
• Quantitative / qualitative source / data
Virtual Research in a Real Location
The idea here is that we use students’ knowledge of a real location as the basis for virtual research: while the scenario is real – a location such as a high street, shopping mall, school or college – students aren’t required to carry-out any real (time-consuming) research. Rather, they use their knowledge and experience of a real-world location to inform their understanding of research methods.
- Walk the Talk
How to prepare the ground for the Border Walking and subsequent teaching is something for individual teachers, but a couple of things can be usefully observed.
In this short (10 minute) interview, (recorded in 2009 in what looks and sounds like a cupboard somewhere…apologies for the less than pristine sound quality and video), Professor Becky Francis talks about her research into educational achievement.
Explanations for differential educational achievement across different class, age, gender and ethnic categories are many, varied and complex, so it’s unlikely any single explanation taken out of the context of the lived experiences of different social groups can fully explain these differences. However, this is not to say it’s not a useful exercise to get students to consider (and evaluate) “single-issue” explanations.
In this respect this article – White children ‘falling behind other groups at GCSE’ – suggests that parental engagements (what parents actually do to support their children’s education) are a more-significant factor in achievement than “parental aspirations” (what parents hope and encourage their children to achieve) and it can form the basis for a some useful classroom exercises: