Working Class Kids and School Qualifications: An Investigation of Scottish Education Using Longitudinal and Administrative Social Science Data

Gayle, V. (2017) Understanding Society Scientific Conference 2017, University of Essex, UK, 11 - 13 July 2017 [SLS]

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Abstract:

There has been a long running negative association between social class and outcomes in school examinations. Pupils from less advantaged social classes have generally had poorer performance. In this paper we investigate contemporary social class effects using data from the Scottish Longitudinal Study and newly available linked administrative data. The resounding finding is that working class pupils have less favourable outcomes in school qualifications. The effects of social class can be observed net of gender, parental education and household type. Parental education plays an important role in filial (i.e. their child’s) educational outcomes but there is no interaction with parental social class. A more subtle finding is that the outcomes of pupils with parents in lower supervisory and technical occupations share close similarities with children of parents from both semi-routine and routine occupations. This is important because sociologists have previously theorised parents in lower supervisory and technical occupations as a blue collar intermediate class, but in this analysis their children’s educational outcomes are more similar to pupils from the wage-earning working class. We observe some occupation-level differences within social classes. For example the children of teachers have good outcomes whereas children with parents in catering and hospitality occupations perform worse than counterparts in the same social class. This work is innovative because it analyses administrative records linked to an existing longitudinal dataset. The findings are important as they provide up-to-date evidence that can directly inform policy debates in the areas of education and social mobility.

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Output from project: 2014_005

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