According to Bynner and Joshi (1999) class differences have persisted since the late 1950’s. It can be seen that all studies carried out by various theorist came to the same conclusion that middle class pupils tend to do a lot better than working class in terms of educational achievement. Pupils from middle class backgrounds tend to pass more exams, stay on at school for longer and are five times more likely to go to university. This gap in achievement widens with age as right from nursery school to university, processes like labelling or the self fulfilling prophecy take place which insure that the working class are always at a disadvantage.
When analysing the influence of social class on educational achievement it’s crucial to examine both internal and external factors.
Many sociologists like the interactionist Howard Becker (1971) chose to explain their views to why there are differences in class achievement in relation to processes which take place within schools (internal) as mentioned above.
Labelling is a common process within schools where teachers attach a meaning to a pupil for example middle class are labelled as the ideal pupil however this in itself acts a stereotype as it assumes all middle class fit the description of the perfect pupil. However this can act as a positive or negative label as those labelled negatively may aim to prove the person in question wrong.
In addition to this the concept self fulfilling prophecy takes the process of labelling a step further as based on the label teachers make prediction about pupils which usually come true simply by the fact they were made. The reason it interacts with labelling is that it changes the pupils self image by bringing it in line with the expectation others expect him/her to fulfil.
However there are also sociologists who