The idea that working-class children will most likely under-achieve due to a lack of culture, also known as cultural deprivation, refers to children lacking the norms, values, beliefs, skills and knowledge that a society would regard as important and necessary. The attributes that these children should know and learn are, in most cases, taught by their parents and are passed to the next generation through socialisation. All children are socialised differently, and the social class of the parent has a huge impact on the child and may affect their achievement in education. According to the cultural deprivation theory, some working-class parents fail to communicate and instil the appropriate norms, values, beliefs, skills and knowledge needed for educational success. However, there are other factors that can determine how well a child does within education. For example, material deprivation, cultural capital and economic capital can also have an impact on how well some children will attain, therefore cultural deprivation is not the only factor and may not be the most important reason to why working-class children under-achieve.
Cultural deprivation theorists, such as Douglas (1964) argued that working class parents offer less encouragement and support towards their children's education. However, others such as Tizard (1981) argue that the apparent lack of interest of working class parents may mask their lack of confidence or knowledge in dealing with schools. Nonetheless, theorists believed that there are three major factors that are responsible for working-class under-achievement: a lack of intellectual stimulation, the restricted speech code and working-class subcultures.
A lack of intellectual stimulation refers to the development of analytical and thinking skills, such as the capability to decipher a difficult problem and use new ideas and concepts.