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Material Deprivation in a Working Class

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    Material deprivation is the lacking of material goods; which is normally due to a lack of money e.g. poor housing and lack of school equipment. This is normally suffered by the working class as they may bring in little or no income. Therefore, Material deprivation can affect the achievement of working class pupils because they cannot afford the necessities needed to do well in education. One way in which material deprivation may lead to underachievement for working class is because of poor quality housing. This is because they are unable to afford good quality housing due to their little income, normally from manual jobs. Poor housing could mean a small and cramped house. This could be because they are unable to afford a bigger house or are living in a council house; which is very small. If the pupil is living in a small house with a lot of people, they may have nowhere to do their homework or revise. This could therefore lead to them being constantly behind on the work and then underachieving.

    Poor housing can also affect the achievement of working class pupils, if they live in a catchment area with schools that are not highly ranked on the OFSTED league tables. As the working class have little money and therefore suffer from material deprivation, they may be unable to afford a house in the catchment area of a good school (one ranked highly in the league tables). Therefore, they are forced to go to a school that will not help them into reaching their full potential and therefore underachieve. Diet and health is another way in which material deprivation may lead to underachievement for working class pupils. As the working class suffer from material deprivation the parents may work more or work two jobs. This means that they have less time to cook healthy and nutritious food and are more likely to give their children ready meals or fast food; which is lacking nutrients. Howard (2001) notes that working class people have lower intakes of energy, vitamins and minerals. Poor nutrition affects health and the brain and therefore could be a reason for underachievement. This is because if a pupil is lacking in nutrition, they are not able to concentrate as well and will underachieve because they haven’t learnt anything. Also, as it affects the health, working class pupils are more likely to be off school due to illness (as lack of nutrition weakens the immune system). Therefore, the pupils would fall behind on work which would lead to underachievement.

    Material deprivation can affect the achievement working class pupils because working class families do not have as much money as middle class families. This would affect them because money is needed to buy the equipment which is necessary for the pupil to do well. This includes things such as revision books, folders and notebooks. Without these, a working class pupil is more likely to underachieve. Furthermore, if the child is not doing as well and is not achieving to their full potential, working class parents would not be able to afford extra tuition, unlike middle class people. This therefore leads to underachievement. Although material deprivation can lead to working class pupils underachieving, there are other factors that can affect underachievement. Cultural deprivation can also lead to working class pupil’s underachievement. This can include language codes. The importance of language for educational achievement is highlighted by Bereiter and Engelmann. They claim that the language used in working class homes is deficient. This is known as the restricted code and consists of gestures, single words and disjointed phrases. As a result, their children fail to develop the necessary language skills.

    They grow up incapable of abstract thinking and unable to use language to explain, describe and compare. Because of this, they are unable to take advantage of the opportunities that school offers. Therefore, working class pupils are more likely to underachieve in education because they are unable to achieve to the best of their ability. Overall, material deprivation can lead to the underachievement of working class pupils because of poor housing, diet and health and the costs of education. These are all due to a lack of money because working class parents only earn a low income. These factors affect the child’s progress in education and therefore lead to underachievement, as they cannot reach their full potential. However, material deprivation isn’t the only factor that affects underachievement of working class pupils. Cultural deprivation, such as language codes can also be a factor.

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