Posts Tagged ‘education’

Your Own Personal (YouTube) Examiner: Part 2

Tuesday, March 20th, 2018

A couple of months ago I posted about TeacherSociology’s YouTube Channel and its AQA exam technique videos and on the basis that if, in these testing times, you just can’t get enough of Sociology Examiners (particularly Senior Examiners – I’m not altogether sure what the difference between these and Non-Senior examiners might be, but I’m sure it must be Important) walking your students through exam papers, Mr Blackburn’s new YouTube Channel does exactly that.

The format is a simple screencast focused on an on-screen exam paper, with Mr Blackburn highlighting, annotating and talking you through the questions. This includes:

• how to decode exam questions

• exactly what the examiner is asking you to do for each question

• how to write high mark answers that covers everything required by the examiner.

At the time of posting there are two screencasts available, each lasting for around 15 minutes:

1. AS Paper 1 (Education) , covering all the questions.

2. A2 Paper 2 (Global Development), covering both 10 and 20 mark questions.

If you’re teaching or studying either of these AQA Sociology Units, this Channel is well worth a little of your time.

Leave Nothing to Chance: An Education Simulation

Wednesday, March 14th, 2018

“Leave Nothing to Chance” is, unless I’m very much mistaken (and I probably am), my first real attempt at a “proper classroom simulation”.

I’d like to say I’m excited about it, but when all’s-said-and-done it’s only a simple simulation.

On the other hand, I very much hope you like it, use it, develop it and share it.

Not necessarily in that order, but you probably get the idea.

Aside from this, if you need a bit of convincing about the content, the sim is designed to illustrate differential educational achievement and uses the mechanism of a lottery – or to be more-precise, a series of Key Stage lotteries – to explore how differences in achievement are, for sociologists, the result of material and cultural factors that occur both inside and outside the school.

The lotteries, although a central feature of the game (there can only be one winner. Unless you decide otherwise), are the device through which students are encouraged to explore, with your help, direction and guidance (you know, the teaching stuff), how and why different social groups achieve differently in the education system. They are, in other words, the glue that holds the lesson together.


Sociology Sim: An Exercise in Inequality

Friday, March 9th, 2018

As you may have gathered, I rather like simulations and this is another one I’ve found that can be added to the expanding list.

This particular one was created by Chris Andrews and is interesting, at least to me, because its focus on social inequality means it has applications right across the sociological spectrum; you can use this sim just about anywhere you need to illustrate structured social inequality.

Apart from its flexibility, it satisfies what Andrews’ calls four criteria for running a successful in-class exercise. A sim should:

• be simple and easy to learn,
• sensitise students to central motifs or aspects of sociology versus specific theories or methods,
• involve minimal preparation and resources
• be usable within one-hour length class periods or less.

You can, if you want, download the original article containing the full documentation for the sim that:

• Provides a general overview of and rationale for the sim
• Describes how to run the game
• Includes a debate and debrief section that explores how the sim can be used to illustrate different aspects of structured social inequality.

Alternatively, if you just want to view the instructions for running the sim and view some short Notes I’ve added about using the sim to illustrate and discuss structured social inequality in the context of Education, I’ve created a short booklet for just this purpose…


Beat The Bourgeoisie: A Simulation

Tuesday, March 6th, 2018

Long-time readers of this blog may recall that around 18 months ago I posted a series of sociology simulations, under the general title “7 Sims in 7 Days”, one of which, Cards, Cakes and Class, focused on giving students a physical taste of social inequality. However, while I like the basic ideas underpinning the sim, it suffers from two major problems:

1. It takes a lot of time, effort and space to set-up and run.

2. It mainly focuses on economic inequality to the detriment of other dimensions of class inequality – specifically, cultural and social capital. While the former is, of course, an important dimension of inequality, students need to understand, discuss and, in this instance, experience other dimensions of inequality.

If you liked the basic idea behind “Cakes and Class” (and who doesn’t like to see their students suffer in the name of Education?) but were prevented from running the sim because you couldn’t commit to everything involved in setting it up, you might be interested in this variation by Dawn Norris (Beat The Bourgeoisie: A Social Class Inequality and Mobility Simulation Game). While it covers much the same area as Cakes and Class it does so in a way that’s:

1. Easier to set-up and run: you just need two groups of students and some questions.

2. Quicker to carry-out: Norris suggests the simulation itself should run for around 30 minutes, (with as much time as you like after for a discussion of content and outcomes).


Knowledge Organiser Updates

Monday, March 5th, 2018

For those of you who just can’t get enough of free Knowledge Organisers, Learning Tables or Activity Mats, here’s a quick update on new materials.

The Hectic Teacher has added 30 new Beliefs in Society “Topic Summary Sheets” to the existing KO’s on Education, Family and Crime. This is for the AQA Specification, but a lot of the information can be applied to OCR, Eduqas or CIE (but this will obviously involve a bit of work on your part…).

These are all in pdf format but if you contact her and ask nicely they should be available as PowerPoint slides that can be edited to your particular lesson requirements.

Miss C Sociology on the other hand has been busy producing a new range of Organisers for both

A-level (Socialisation, culture and identity, Research Methods, Researching inequality, Globalisation and the digital world, Crime and deviance – all aimed at the OCR Specification but, once again, there is a degree of information cross-over with other Specs.) and GCSE (Key Concepts, Families and Households added thus far, with many more promised).

These are all available as PowerPoint Slides should you want to edit them in any way.

More GCSE Sociology Revision Stuff

Sunday, March 4th, 2018

While it’s possible to put-together a very reasonable – and reasonably comprehensive – set of revision resources from stuff that teachers have put on the web, there are a couple of things you should do before committing yourself to using these materials:

1. Check they are for your Specification – you don’t want to be revising the wrong Spec.

2. Check the Specification year / series to which they refer, particularly if it’s changed recently (over the past year or so). In other words, check the resources cover the newer required material and exclude older, newly-irrelevant material, from your revision.


These comprehensive resources combine things like notes, activities and advice and generally cover a number of different areas of the GCSE Specification. Three I’ve found are worth a look:

1. Whole Course Revision 2018: This is a serious, 100-page, GCSE Revision Guide, put together by Ian Goddard, that covers:

• Introducing Sociology
• Research Methods
• Family
• Education
• Crime and Deviance
• Social Inequality
• Power and Politics

Unlike a lot of the previous GCSE resources I’ve posted [link] this is primarily a revision schedule rather than a simple list of revision notes (although these are also included). In this respect the Guide covers:

• How to revise
• Revision schedule
• Personal Learning Checklist [link]
• Basic study notes to supplement other reading (the Guide refers to “Collins Revision GCSE Sociology” but if you don’t use this text substituting your usual textbook will be fine)
• Keywords
• How to answer questions
• Past question practice

2. Sociology Revision Guide: Although not as ambitious or comprehensive as the above – the focus is on key terms and Notes covering Methods, Family and Education, plus a short section in exam advice – this Guide by Debbie McGowan is nicely designed and makes a welcome addition to your revision armoury. Presupposing you have one. If not, you can start one with this.

3. Revision Guide for Students: A nicely-designed and cleanly laid-out hyperlinked pdf by Jonathan Tridgell that covers:

• Research Methods
• Socialisation, Culture and Identity
• Family
• Education
• Mass Media

While the focus is on brief revision notes the Guide also includes information on:

• Course structure
• Exam technique
• Revision Tips.


Learning Mats

Sunday, February 25th, 2018

Learning mats – originally laminated sheets containing simple questions, learning prompts and drawing spaces – have been around for some time at the lower (particularly primary) levels of our education system, but with the increasing interest in Knowledge Organisers, which in many respects they resemble, they’re starting to gain some traction at both GCSE and A-level.

Having said that, I’ve only managed to find a couple of examples of their use in A-level Sociology and none at all in Psychology. This may reflect a lack of knowledge about Learning Mats, a lack of interest in their application to A-level study or, more-likely perhaps, a lack of time to create them.


Knowledge Organisers: Media and Methods and Education

Tuesday, February 20th, 2018

Back by popular demand and with a brand-spanking new set of Tables covering media, methods and education. Each Unit is by a different author and the quality is, at times, variable.


These are pdf files so unless you’ve got a programme that will edit them you’re stuck with the information they have to offer. That said, they’re fairly recent (2015) and so are probably reasonably up-to-date and in line with the latest Specifications. There is, unfortunately, no indication of authorship…

Ownership of the mass media
New media, globalisation and popular culture
Selection and presentation of news and moral panics
Mass media and audiences
Representations of the body
Representations of ethnicity age and class


These are a little older (2009) and again authorship is a little hazy. On the plus side they’re in Word format so they can be easily edited if necessary.

Experiments and Questionnaires
Observation and Secondary Sources

Previous Tables you might find useful:

Table 1.

Table 2.

Table 3.


Again, not sure who created these or indeed when they were created. However, they are in Word format if you want to edit them.

Functionalism and Marxism
Feminism, New Right, Interactionism
Cultural and Material Factors

Previous Tables you might find useful:

Table 1.

Table 2.


More Sociology Knowledge Organisers

Wednesday, February 14th, 2018

Knowledge Organisers, you may or may not be surprised to learn, are the classroom requirement de nos jours and while some (looking at you Michaela Community School) may like to casually lay claim to the concept / format as being something radically new and different they’ve developed, it really isn’t.

Here, for example, is one I made earlier (about 20-odd years earlier…) and if past experience is anything to go by I probably stole the idea from someone else (or, as I like to think, my efforts were influenced by those of others).

Be that as it may, if you’ve landed here looking for Knowledge Organisers, here’s another batch I’ve managed to find using my finely-tuned Sociological Sensibility (or “typing stuff into Google to see what I can find” as it’s more-commonly known. Probably).

These KO’s are slightly different to the various Learning Tables (LT) we’ve previously posted, but they are, to-all-intents-and-purposes, the same in terms of what they exist to do.

You will find, if you compare the two (otherwise you’ll never actually know), this batch is a little less ambitious in scope and design than the previous LT’s, so it may be a case of choosing which suits you and your students and sticking with those. Or not as the case may be.

Although the original files I found were in pdf format, I’ve converted them to Word so that you can more-easily edit them if you want to. The only difference between the two files is that rounded bullets in the pdf file have been converted as square bullets in the Word file.


Your Own Personal (YouTube) Examiner

Tuesday, January 30th, 2018

Although there’s quite a fair bit of a-level sociology on YouTube (some of which we’ve contributed…) it’s probably fair to say most of it concentrates on Specification content – by-and-large the “stuff you need to know”.

While this is also, to some extent, true of the TeacherSociology Channel – there are Video Tutorials on areas like Family Life, for example – what caught my passing eye – and makes the Channel a little bit different from all the other’s vying for a piece of your precious time – are the short films on exam technique.

For these the basic idea is a simple one: create a screencast, narrated by an experienced a-level examiner, that hones-in on what students need to know / do / demonstrate in an exam to score the best possible mark for different question types.


Restorative Justice: An Educational Dimension

Thursday, January 4th, 2018

You may – or as is probably more likely, may not – recall a post a while back that outlined some ideas on Braithwaite and Restorative Justice  as they relate to crime and criminal behaviour – a fact I mention only because I came across an interesting short video on how a school in Colorado (and no-doubt others in America) have introduced a form of restorative justice as an alternative to the more-traditional forms of punishment generally meted-out in such schools.


Learning Tables: Education

Thursday, December 21st, 2017

The latest batch of Tables (again created by Miss K Elles and a couple of others) covers some of the main themes in the sociology of education.

The focus is mainly on analysis and evaluation and this set of Tables is particularly text-heavy for some reasons. There’s nary a picture in sight and some Tables run to two or three pages of text.

If you can live with that, the following Tables are available:

Role of Education
Class Differences in Educational Achievement
Gender Differences in Educational Achievement and Subject Choice
Ethnic Differences in Educational Achievement
Selection, Marketisation and Privatisation Policies
Policies for Equal Opportunities (Miss G Banton)
Researching Education (Issac Carter-Bown)

AQA Education Questions Exam Pack

Thursday, December 7th, 2017

The current (2017) AQA Education exam structure asks 5 different types of question:

• Define
• Using one example, briefly explain
• Outline three
• Outline and explain two
• Applying material from item and your knowledge, evaluate

If you’re in the market for a handy pack that gives your students lots of practice at planning and answering these different types of question then you’ll be wanting to take a look at this Education Exam Pack created by – as far as I can tell from the document metadata – Miss K Elles.

The original file was in Word format (handy if you want to add or modify questions) and I’ve also converted it to pdf format for some reason that now escapes me.

How useful – or otherwise – this pack might be for teachers following alternative Specifications I’m not sure, mainly because I couldn’t be bothered / didn’t have time to check (please delete as you feel applicable).

However, since much of the content will, no doubt, be similar across different Specifications it might be possible to modify the questions to suit your particular exam structure (or not, as the case may be).

GCSE Sociology Notes

Friday, December 1st, 2017

Although this site describes itself as the UK’s leading educational website for GCSE and A-level it’s a little odd because it looks unfinished – loads of placeholder ”awaiting image” graphics, a Facebook page not updated for a year and the same with its Twitter feed.

However, if you and your students can live with this you’ll find a range of Notes here that are relatively short, to-the-point and cover a number of different Specification areas and topics:

• Introduction to Sociology
• Families
• Education
• Media
• Power
• Social Inequality
• Crime and Deviance
• Sampling techniques

While the material isn’t going to replace your textbooks, it’s a handy resource for students that complements, rather than detracts from, whatever sources you use.

Spaced Study: Free Resources

Tuesday, November 28th, 2017

Spaced Study or Spaced Practice is a theory of learning that argues, in a nutshell, that students study more effectively and retain more of the information they learn if the study period is “spaced” – or spread out over a number of hours / days – than if studying is “crammed” into short intensive blocks.

Interestingly, unlike so many “contemporary study techniques” this technique not only sounds like it should be effective, there’s also a lot of scientific research both historic and contemporary, that actually supports the basic idea.

If you can’t be bothered to read this document (or, as I prefer to think, you’ll take my word for it…) the Very Wonderful Learning Scientists have helpfully distilled the basics into a teacher / student friendly form.

While this is all-well-good-and-worth-a-try, you might be thinking, do you have the time – spaced or otherwise – and, more-importantly, resources to convince your students that Spaced Study is more effective than something like Cramming?

If you don’t – and I’ve a feeling you’re probably not alone in this – the equally-wonderful Hectic Teacher has come riding to your rescue because she’s produced a range of completely-free Spaced Study Booklets so you don’t have to.

Which is nice.

As you’ll find if you click the link there are 5 booklets available on her Blog covering some of the most popular AQA A-level Units (Family, Education, Beliefs in Society, Crime and Deviance, Theory and Methods).

Visual Sociology: Picturing Inequality

Tuesday, November 14th, 2017

Equality of Opportunity?

As regular readers of this blog will know, I’m a big fan of using graphic material (pictures and illustrations rather than examples of extreme physical violence) to both illustrate sociological ideas and encourage students to think a little more deeply about such ideas and how they can be applied to increase their depth of sociological knowledge and understanding. I’ve tried to use this technique to good effect in:

• blog posts – visualising strain theory is a particular favourite
• teaching – one of my favourite “visual lessons” was to use optical illusions to introduce and illustrate the idea of different sociological approaches – how could people look at the same thing (“society”) yet see it so differently?
• my work as a video producer.

In this respect my argument is that the right picture can be a simple and evocative way of getting students to both understand and think about the ramifications of certain ideas across a range of sociological areas:

• Education and differential achievement.
• Deviance and rates of arrest / imprisonment.
• Social inequality and various forms of discrimination.
• Theory and concepts like economic, cultural and social capital.

The picture above, for example, can be used to get students to think beyond relatively simple and straightforward ideas about class, gender or ethic discrimination (it’s morally wrong…) in order to explore more complex sociological ideas about the concept of equality of opportunity: what, for example, does it really mean and can it be used by powerful groups to actually embed greater inequality into social structures?


Chinese Parents’ Involvement in Children’s Education

Monday, October 9th, 2017

Regular readers of this blog will be aware that from time-to-time we’ve been able to feature research done by Richard Driscoll’s Sociology A-level students at the Shenzhen College of International Education in China and the latest study to come our way, by Ma Jia Ying, looks at the involvement of Chinese parents in decisions made by their sons and daughters about what to study in higher education.

The research should be interesting to UK teachers and students for a couple of reasons:

Firstly, it gives a comparative cultural insight into family relationships and educational processes in an area that will be familiar to many UK students – the extent to which family pressures impact on the choices made by individual students in terms of their future educational careers.

Secondly, another interesting dimension is the construction and implementation of the research itself: this is made manifest in areas like the choices made by the researcher in terms of sampling, research methods, reliability, validity and so forth, their awareness of methodological uses and limitations and their evaluation of the strengths and weaknesses of their research.

If you want to get in touch with Richard about this research, his students or maybe to make a fruitful contact between your school / college students and his – you can contact him via his Twitter account

15 | Youth: Part 4

Monday, October 2nd, 2017

Although the concept of “youth culture” – a ‘shared way of life’, with its own distinctive roles, values, norms, beliefs and practices, common to young people and different to other generational groups (such as the elderly) – has a certain face validity, it’s not one that has a great deal of sociological currency in contemporary societies (for reasons we’ve previously outlined and explored).

Similarly, the concept of youth subcultures is one that has, it’s probably fair to say, fallen out of the sociological mainstream in recent times, partly because of the dramatic decline in its “spectacular” forms (the mods, hippies and punks of your parents (and possibly grandparents) generations), but mainly because even in these spectacularly overt forms there is actually very little evidence of subcultural organisation – such as the ability to socialise new members or reproduce the group over time, for example.

While “youth subcultures”, in other words, are seen as behavioural forms that are, by definition, defined by the overwhelming presence and participation of “young people”, there’s arguably little evidence they constitute subcultural groupings in the generally-accepted use of the term.

It’s Dead, Dave. They’re all Dead

Youth culture and subculture are, in this respect, sometimes called “zombie concepts” -explanations that, while they once had some form of life, have long-ago ceased to have any real meaning, currency or relevance for our understanding of young people’s behaviour. They’re dead, but they just don’t know it (although they can still be dangerous because they cloud the way we think about youth).


BBC “Analysis” Podcasts

Tuesday, June 27th, 2017

Over the past 10 years BBC Radio 4’s Analysis series has created a range of podcasts “examining the ideas and forces which shape public policy in Britain and abroad, presented by distinguished writers, journalists and academics”.

There are over 200 podcasts to trawl through, many of which won’t be of any interest or use to sociology teachers and students, but a relatively smaller number just might. To save you a lot of time and trouble (there’s no need to thank me, I’m nice like like) I’ve had a quick look through the list to select what I think might be the sociological highlights.


Education and the New Right: The 3 “C’s”

Thursday, May 25th, 2017

Working backwards in the alphabet, as you do, the second element to Boyd’s (1991) characterization of new Right approaches to education (the first is here if you missed it) focuses on the “3 C’s”: Character, Content and Choice.

1. Character refers to the notion of moral character and, more-importantly from a New Right perspective, how to encourage and develop it through the education system. In this respect the socialisation function of education means schools have an important role to play in both producing new consumers and workers and also ensuring children have the “right attitudes” for these roles. Part of this process involves (in a similar sort of argument to that used by Functionalists’) instilling respect for legitimate authority and the development of future business leaders.

More recently, a refinement on the notion of moral character has focused on what Duckworth (2007) have called grit, something they define as “perseverance and passion for long-term goals”.

The idea here is that the combination of passion for educational goals coupled with the desire to achieve them is a key indicator of educational achievement – one they claim is a more-important predictor of “future success” (an idea you might like to subject to critical evaluation) than any other notable variable).

This claim does, of course, open up a range of critical possibilities for students – from Crede’s (2016) conclusion that “the higher-order structure of grit is not confirmed, that grit is only moderately correlated with performance and retention, and that grit is very strongly correlated with conscientiousness” to why it should be an attractive idea to New Right approaches.

2. Core Content: The emphasis here is the establishment of a curriculum designed to meet the needs of the economy, an idea that links neatly into discussion of the role and purpose of the education system. From this perspective the main objective for schools is to adequately prepare children for their working adult lives in ways that benefit the overall economy. This generally involves the idea that there should be a mix of academic and vocational courses and qualifications open to students; in the past this has meant the New Right championing Grammar schools (an idea currently (2017) being revived in New Right political circles) that provided an academic type of education for a relatively small elite (around 20%) of children and Secondary Modern / Technical schools that provided a vocational type of education.

Currently the vogue is to provide different types of academic / vocational qualifications (such as “ordinary” GCSEs and “vocational” GCSEs) within the same school. For the majority of students the curriculum emphasis should be on some variety of training with the objective being to ensure schools produce students with the skills businesses need (“Key Skills”, for example, such as Maths, English and ICT).

The New Right is, as might be expected, keen on “traditional subjects” (English, Maths and History) and antagonistic to subjects like Media and Film Studies – and, of course, Sociology.

3. Choice of school: Parents should be free to choose the school they want their children to attend – whether this be State maintained or private. The basic model here is a business one: just like with any business, those that offer the customer good value will thrive and those that offer poor value will close – or in the current case, “underperforming schools” are forcibly converted into Academy Schools run by a variety of Trusts. When parents exercise choice “good” schools will expand to accommodate all those who want a place and “bad” schools will close as their numbers decline.

Education and the New Right: The 5 “D’s”

Wednesday, May 24th, 2017

If you want a simple, straightforward and memorable (possibly) way to sum-up New Right approaches to education, you could do worse than adopt Boyd’s (1991) characterisation of the “5 Ds” of the New Right perception of the role of education and training in contemporary English / Western societies:

1. Disestablishment: The school system should be decoupled from State control; private businesses should be encouraged to own and run schools, just as private companies run supermarkets or accountancy firms. The government doesn’t, for example, tell Tesco how to organise and run its shops so the New Right see little reason for governments playing such a role in education.

2. Deregulation: Within certain broad limits private owners should be free to offer the kind of educational facilities and choices they believe parents want; schools should be “freed” from Local Authority / government control.

3. Decentralisation: Control over the day-to-day decision-making within a school should fall on the shoulders of those best-placed to make decisions in the interests of their clients – something that involves giving power to those closest to individual schools (governors and headteachers) rather than decision-making being in the hands of those who are remote from the specific needs of such schools (governments, politicians and the like).

Power, in this respect, is seen to be most efficiently exercised by those furthest away (school leaders) from the centre of government power (because they know and understand particular local conditions and circumstances and can respond quickly to change in a way government bureaucracies cannot).

4. Diminution: Once each of the above ideas are operating the State has a much-reduced role to play in education and hence national education spending should fall (to be replaced by a variety of localized initiatives – including private, fee-paying, education, local forms of taxation and so forth). This idea dovetails with the idea of “consumer choice” in education and general New Right thinking about the size and role of the State; if education takes a smaller part of the national tax budget people pay less tax and are free to spend that money on the education of their choice.

5. De-emphasis: With each of the above in place the power of government is diminished (or de-emphasised) with the power to make educational decisions focused at the local level of individual schools.

Connecting Walls Collection

Monday, April 24th, 2017

CBSC Sociology has been busy creating and posting a huge number of revision Connecting Walls on Twitter and, in the spirit of “pinching other people’s stuff and sharing it with a wider audience”, I’ve pulled all their tweets together into one handy blog post for your – and your students’ – greater convenience.

So, if you’re looking for a fun way to spice-up classroom revision with a bit of competitive tension, try some or all of the following:


Education Wall 1

Education Wall 2

Education Wall 3

Education Wall 4  

Education Wall 5


School Climate: A different dimension to differential educational achievement?

Tuesday, February 14th, 2017

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.


    GCSE AQA Sociology Revision Guides

    Friday, January 13th, 2017

    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:




    Crime and deviance

    Social inequality


    A-Level Revision: Education

    Friday, November 25th, 2016

    ghrevAs an addendum to the Revision Booklets post, here’s one I missed earlier – an extensive revision booklet for AS Education produced by Greenhead College.

    As you might expect from a Sociology department consistently ranked as outstanding by Ofstead their approach is:

    1. Thorough – the booklet includes a comprehensive set of revision notes.
    2. Informative – the document is annotated with helpful suggestions about how to demonstrate various assessment objectives in written exam answers.


    GCSE Revision Resources

    Thursday, November 24th, 2016

    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 1 Revision Guide

    Unit 1: Education

    Unit 2 Topics – keywords / concepts

    Crime and Deviance

    Mass Media Revision Booklet

    Unit B671 (Sociology Basics) Revision: Methods / Culture / Socialisation / Identity



    A-level Revision Booklets

    Thursday, November 24th, 2016

    If you’re looking for revision ideas / inspiration check-out this set of AS Sociology Revision booklets produced by the Tudor Grange Academy:booklet


    Booklet 1

    Booklet 2

    Booklet 3


    And if you want something to add to your classroom walls, they’ve also produced some basic Sociology posters:






    Social Action


    Sociology Factsheets: To Buy or DIY?

    Tuesday, November 22nd, 2016

    fsheetLike all good ideas, this one is simple but effective.

    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 ( 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…)

    Yet More Sociology Stuff: Education

    Thursday, November 10th, 2016

    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:

    Natural Intelligence

    Introduction to education

    Vocational education

    Private education 

    Class and DEA – inside school factors

    DEA – Cultural difference theory

    Sociological Detectives: Evidence Summary Sheet

    Wednesday, November 2nd, 2016

    sctv_evidenceTo complement the Theory Summary sheet you can combine it with the Evidence Summary sheet that performs a similar function within the Sociological Detectives sim. In this respect it provides:

    1. 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.
    2. A standardised format for sharing information around the class electronically (using Padlet / Google Drive for example).



    Sociological Detectives: Theory Summary Sheet

    Tuesday, November 1st, 2016

    Iftheory_summary you’re using the Sociological Detectives sim you might find this simple Theory Summary sheet useful because it provides a couple of helpful things:

    1. 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.
    2. 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.


    The Sociological Detectives: DEA

    Monday, October 31st, 2016

    In splashthis sim students take the role of “sociological detectives” investigating the reasons for differential educational achievement. Broadly, the sim involves:

    • 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.


    More Sociology Stuff: History of Education

    Saturday, October 29th, 2016

    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.

    1870 Foster Education Act

    1944 Butler Education Act

    1965 Comprehensivisation

    1988 Education Reform Act

    Sociology Stuff: DEA

    Friday, October 28th, 2016

    Istufff you’re sitting comfortably, I’ll tell you a story.

    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 Marketisation of Education: Branding

    Tuesday, October 25th, 2016

    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.”

    7 Sims in 7 Days – Day 7: Cards, Cakes and Class

    Monday, October 3rd, 2016

    sim_cakesThe 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.


    Seven Sims in Seven Days: The Introduction

    Monday, September 26th, 2016

    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:

    1. Education and Differential Achievement: The Sociological Detective

    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.

    1. Crime, Deviance and Methods: The Great Chocolate Bar Theft (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”.


    Sociology ShortCuts: Labelling Theory

    Wednesday, September 21st, 2016

    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:

    • Outsiders
    • Social interaction and shared understandings
    • Labelling process
    • Social contexts
    • Social reaction
    • Primary and secondary deviation
    • Tolerance levels
    • Deviant labels
    • Self-worth and self-identity


    Mapping Differential Educational Achievement

    Wednesday, September 7th, 2016

    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…)

    SCTV Weekly Round-Up

    Tuesday, June 14th, 2016

    A little late, but worth the wait. Probably.

    Our weekly round-up of the sites and stories that are hot.

    Or not.


    Weekly Round-Up

    Thursday, May 19th, 2016

    This week’s round-up of all the sites, scenes and sounds that piqued our interest…


    Weekly Digest

    Thursday, May 12th, 2016

    All the links that caught our eye this past week in one handy post…



    Failure discourse: Govt must launch royal commission into ‘failing’ state system, says private school head”

    Methods in Context Mark Scheme

    Government backs down over plan to make all schools academies

    Thousands of supply teachers could lose out on more than £200 a month owing to changes to tax relief rules

    Professionalisation of governance: “Without parent governors, schools face uphill battle to engage families”

    The impact of longer school days

    I’ve seen the future and it doesn’t look good: “I Teach At A For-Profit College: 5 Ridiculous Realities”

    Students who use digital devices in class ‘perform worse in exams’

    Genes that influence how long you stay in education uncovered by study


    Manchester’s Heroin Haters – Vigilante violence?

    Insecure working as social harm? Some thoughts on theorising low paid service work from a harm perspective

    Revealed: London’s new violent crime hotspots

    Chief Constable confirms election expenses probe involves 2 Cornish MPs, and his own boss

    Street crime resources

    Extending the Web: “Legal highs brought low as councils use banning orders to curb use”

    Tough talk on crime has led to a crisis in Britain’s prisons

    Corporate / White-collar crime “David Cameron to introduce new corporate money-laundering offence”

    Wealth, Poverty, Welfare

    Poverty by Design? “Sink estates are not sunk – they’re starved of funding”

    Top 25 hedge fund managers earned $13bn in 2015 – more than some nations


    18 Baffling Tropes Hollywood Can’t Stop Using

    Selling Shame: 40 Outrageous Vintage Ads Any Woman Would Find Offensive | Mental Floss UK

    The General Strike to Corbyn: 90 years of BBC establishment bias

    How to Fabricate Front Page News

    Social Inequality

    Class, Culture and Education – a good discussion piece for students: “Why working-class actors are a disappearing breed”

    Example of different type of discrimination: “Blacklisted workers win £10m payout from construction firms”

    Tax havens have no economic justification, say top economists

    A Sandwich and a Milkshake? Interesting discussion point for UK inequality / tax cuts for wealthy


    Statistical Artefact: Useful research Methods example “Fewer people die in hospital at weekends, study finds”


    Childhood / sexualistion  /media: “Magazine under fire for swimsuit tips for pre-teen girls”


    Epigenetics: “Identical twins may have more differences than meet the eye”

    Esteller study: “How epigenetics affects twins” | The Scientist Magazine

    The uses and misuses of “growth mindset”


    The way you’re revising may let you down in exams – and here’s why

    A psychologist reveals his tips for effective revision

    Britain at a glance – lots of lovely data in easy-to-read formats!

    How to create better study habits that work for you


    Teaching A-level Research Methods: Part 3

    Monday, April 25th, 2016
    1. 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:

    If there are sufficient students, split the class into groups and give each group responsibility for one research method. Give the group a broad outline of how they should proceed in terms of:walk_template

    • Brief overview of the method

    • Primary / secondary data

    • Quantitative / qualitative source / data

    • Strengths

    • Limitations

    One way to do this is to use an evaluation template (this is for Focused (Semi-structured) Interviews – if you want a blank template download it here).


    Teaching A-level Research Methods: Part 2

    Monday, April 25th, 2016

    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.

    1. 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.


    Educational Achievement: Professor Becky Francis

    Monday, April 18th, 2016

    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.


    Differential Educational Achievement: The Home, The School and Emotional Labour…

    Monday, April 4th, 2016

    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: 


    A Modest Proposal for Structured Sociology Teaching: Part 1

    Tuesday, February 16th, 2016

    It’s a fair bet that sometime within the first few weeks of teaching you’re going to be talking, if only in very basic terms, about the distinction between structure and action and its significance in Sociology.

    I’ve done this a number of ways in the past, using something like Meighan’s concept of “haunting” as a relatively simple way to get students thinking about these concepts in their immediate, educational, context – sometimes expanding it as necessary to get them thinking about the structure of their course; how, for example, the exam board has determined what will be taught, how it will be tested and validated (through a range of performance criteria such as knowledge, interpretation and evaluation) and so forth.

    On a more practical level it’s also a good bet most teachers apply, at least implicitly, ideas about structure to help students fulfil these performance criteria in their examination work through the use of simple mnemonics, such as PEEL, that help students construct clear paragraph structures in line with performance criteria.


    A Modest Proposal for Structured Sociology Teaching: Part 2

    Tuesday, February 16th, 2016

    Part 1 looked at what we might think of as the bare bones of a structured sociology teaching schema and in part 2 we can start to add some visual and verbal flesh to this skeleton.

    What we’re aiming to do here is create a structure that’s simple enough for students to remember and easy for teachers to apply; on the one hand it must be flexible enough to accommodate things like different teaching styles, but on the other it can’t be so loose that it fails to function effectively as a teaching and learning structure. In other words, while the general structure must be simple it must also be robust enough to accommodate the “messy complexities” of classroom teaching.

    In this post, therefore, we can start to see what such a structure might look like and I’ve chosen the Module “Differential educational achievement of social groups by social class, gender and ethnicity in contemporary society” as a way of illustrating how it might work – mainly because it’s reasonably clear and straightforward and therefore easy to illustrate using the schema. In a later post I’ll go through a “worked example” based around this topic and also look at examples that might not appear quite so straightforward – but for now it would be useful to just introduce the structure.

    This consists of 5 related categories – although the fifth category (Evidence) might simply be seen as an extension of the fourth (Theorise):

    1. Problematise: Each teaching section always starts with a sociological problem, one that might conveniently, but not necessarily, be expressed as a question – an easy way to get students thinking. In addition, framing modules in this way sets an overall teaching theme: everything that follows is focused on the problem in some way.
    2. Contextualise: Once the problem has been stated we need to provide an interpretive context within which it can be explored. This may involve, among many other possible things, statistical evidence that can form the basis for later expschema1lanation.
    3. Conceptualise: Once we have a general context – one that probably outlines different types of empirical evidence – we can narrow the focus by identifying conceptual ideas that can be used to structure and explore the initial question in slightly more depth and detail.
    4. Theorise: In this category we introduce a range of explanations focused on “the problem”. These can be linked to conceptual categories in the sense that the concepts we’ve identified (such as, for the sake of illustration, class, gender and ethnicity) can be illustrated by related theoretical explanations.
    5. Evidence: Whether or not this is used as a discrete category, it contains the various forms of evidence that derive from the theoretical explanations used. It might, for example, include evidence for and against particular explanations drawn from different studies.

    To help you get a handle on the above we can represent these ideas through a couple of visual representations of structured delivery that, while covering the same ground, potentially have slightly different visual impacts.


    A Modest Proposal for Structured Sociology Teaching: Part 3

    Tuesday, February 16th, 2016

    The previous post identified and briefly outlined the 5 categories that make-up the Structured Teaching scheme and in this post we can look at each category in a little more detail by way of a “worked example” based around Differential Educational Achievement.

    We can start with a visual example of what a mind-mapped structure might look-like, keeping in mind it’s just a simple representation of part of an overall structure for what is quite a large Module (it covers Outside School factors and Social Class).

    If you’d like a more-interactive version of this graphic you can download a pdf version that includes some sample Notes to schema3accompany each of the Items I’ve included in the example.

    1. Problematise: The questions we could ask here are many and varied; this is a particularly wide issue that can, if it’s more convenient, be broken down into a number of different, specific, questions. However, for illustrative purposes we could specify something like “How is class, gender and ethnicity related to differential educational achievement?” as a very general way of framing the problem.
    2. Contextualise: The general purpose of this category is to generate links between how the problem is framed and how it can be explained and as with different possible questions there are a range of ideas that could be examined as part of the contextualising process. These include:
    • how achievement is defined: this is significant because different definitions impact on how we understand and explain achievement differences.
    • how achievement is measured: this conventionally involves looking at exam grades, such as GCSE and A-level in the UK, but this is not the only measure of achievement. Different measures, therefore, will similarly impact on our understanding and explanation of different achievement.
    • statistical evidence based on categories like class, gender and ethnicity. This may, for example, involve using a range of Key Stage data (including GCSE and A-level) to highlight achievement differences that can then be examined trough different theories / explanations.