Academic Performance of Underachieving Students

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A literature review identifying group of learners within society and providing reasons for their possible underachievement.

Educational setting, without a doubt, should work in collaboration with families, local communities and above all, should aim to provide stimulating environment where every student is given the same opportunity to achieve.

There is however general concern regarding academic performance of underachieving students and various reasons behind it.
This assignment will address some issues associated with low attainment as well as identify a group of students who are particularly prone to underachievement.
Those could include students who do not perform well in a specific subject area, do not show interest in gaining qualifications or perhaps are limited by poor language skills or culture from doing well academically at school.

There have been many explanations for low attainment and some of them include: * Natural differences between sexes,
* Natural intelligence,
* Home background,
* Type of schooling,
* Different teaching styles (stereotyping by teachers), * Material factors (Hammersley-Fletcher, Lowe & Pugh, 2006).
Halsey performed a survey of the working class and found that material factors were central to whether learners stayed at school beyond the age of 16 (Halsley cited in Hammersley-Fletcher, Lowe & Pugh, 2006).

Department for Education also states that the gap between the best and worst performers in our system actually widens as they go through education; and it is both significantly wider and more closely related to socio-economic status in this country than anywhere else (DFES, 2004). In education, the relationship between schools and social inequality is often explored by looking at the test and examination scores achieved by different groups of children and young people, and other monitoring data. According to Molly Warrington by the age of 11, girls in many primary schools are performing better than boys, particularly in English, and this pattern of differential achievement is sustained and exacerbated throughout secondary education (Warrington and Younger, 2006). This is a particular concern for white working class boys which is the reason why we should evaluate it further trying to establish possible reasons for their underachievement.

BBC reported that government figures from January 2008 show only 15% of white working class boys in England getting five good GCSEs including maths and English. (BBC News, 2008).
Above view is also supported by the chief inspector of schools who stated that white boys from poor families were worst affected and achieved the worst results aged 16 at school. White British boys who qualify for free school meals achieve the worst results of any apart from gypsy and traveller children – with just 29 per cent getting good marks. (Daily Mail, 2012)

Why is this happening then in a modern world where we seem to have unlimited access to books, resources and other forms of help towards achievement?
There is no doubt that to be able to achieve we must have the desire to learn and aspirations to perform well academically. Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs outlines the necessity of satisfying the basic physiological and safety needs before the ones on upper levels like achievement, understanding and approval make students realise their potential.

Unfortunately white working class households often undermine the values of schooling, academic achievement and aspirations. Boys from very early age associate manual labour with ‘masculinity and toughness’ therefore do not find academic learning relevant to them as it is not based on what they have been told or taught at home. Department for Education confirms that ‘schools where socio-cultural strategies were most transformative were those where head teachers recognised that there were sometimes conflicts between the cultural contexts of home...
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