There are many reasons for differences in achievement between the social classes and ethnic groups that arise internally from school. Two of the reasons for internal differences in achievement for social class are labelling and the self fulfilment prophecy. Some of the reasons for the achievement differences in ethnic groups could be the ethnocentric curriculum and the institutionalised racism.
Labelling is when a meaning or definition is placed on a person. In education labelling takes place when a teacher labels a pupil as both bright and hardworking or the opposite. Many studies have been done on labelling which have found that teachers often place a label on a student based on stereotypes about their background. Working class students are often labelled negatively and working class students are labelled positively. Howard Becker carried out a study about labelling, he interviewed 60 high school teachers; Howard found that the pupils were being judged on how close they were to the teachers idea of a perfect student. Also students appearance and conduct were factors in how they were judged. Generally teachers saw pupils from middle class backgrounds as closer to their perfect students and were regarded as better than their working class peers.
Cicourel and Kituse’s study of educational councillor found evidence that labelling harmed and held back those labelled negatively, mainly working class students. The counsellors were seen as important because they helped the children in secondary school get on to courses at higher education. The study found that, although it was claimed that the counsellors judged on ability, it was not the case.
Studies were also conducted into the different statuses of knowledge, these studies found that labelling can be applied to the knowledge that they are taught. For instance the lower streamed pupils on the ‘C/D borderline’ were taught in a different way to those in the higher grade sets. In this stream the knowledge given to them is low status, common sense and related to everyday experiences. In these sets were more working class children and this different teaching style meant that the difference in achievement between classes was growing. A study in 2011 showed that schools use teachers judgements to decide which pupils are likely to achieve 5 A*-C in GCSE. This study found that working class children had less confidence placed in them and found themselves being entered into lower tier gcses. This also means that they were denied the opportunity to get the knowledge that is needed to get higher grades.
The second reason for the differences in social class achievement is the self fulfilment prophecy. The self fulfilment prophecy works like this. Step one, the teacher labels a student as either intelligent or very unintelligent. On this label predictions will made about their achievement. Step two, the teacher then treats that pupil according to how they have labelled them. For instance they might give more attention to pupils who are going to achieve higher. Step 3, the pupil realises the teacher’s expectations of them and this becomes part of their self image l, leading to them fulfilling their label. If the pupil is labelled as very unintelligent then they will lose confidence and stop revising or trying.
A study as a community school in California by Rosenthal and Jacobson showed that this prophecy works. They told the school that they had a test specially designed to identify those pupils who would achieve higher than others. This was not true and the test was just a plain IQ test. The researchers picked 20% of the pupils, at random, and then told the school that they were the most intelligent ones. When they returned a year later they found that about 50% of those identified as intelligent and high…