To What Extent Does Parental Occupation Determine Educational Success Essay

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To what extent does parental occupation determine educational success?

The impact of the occupation and social class of an individual’s parent on their educational success has long been a focus of sociologists. Success in the educational system in the UK is measured by longevity and qualifications. Sociologists have for many years been concerned with why the attainment gap appears to be so large between working and middle class children. This is as relevant today as ever due to the recent Education Act 2011 where one aim was to ensure higher education was accessible to children of all social backgrounds.

A study measuring the level of pupils achieving 5 or more GCSE grades A*- C in 1989 and 2000 demonstrates that children
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This is a decision based not on their educational achievements but on their family's economic abilities to keep them in education." (, 10th May 2012).

Having explored internal and home factors as possible explanations to the attainment gap it is important to consider also external factors and the schools and teachers role in this.
There is an Interactionist theory to explain educational failure in the working classes, which looks at labelling pupils, which turns into a self fulfilling prophecy and tries to explain bad behaviour by the working class children in classrooms.
Becker (1971) carried out a study on 60 high school teachers and found they judged & treated students differently depending how closely they fitted their idea of an ‘ideal pupil’. The teachers felt the middle class children fitted their ‘ideal pupil’ idea closest based on their work, conduct and appearance. This type of labelling has shown to have a negative impact on children’s achievement and can often be a self fulfilling prophecy. If a teacher is making a judgement that the middle class child is very bright and treats them accordingly, that student will receive a higher standard of work and therefore achieve a higher standard. On the flip side if the working class child is labelled as unintelligent the teacher is likely to give them a