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Mumbles Sea Defence – Have your say!

mumbles sea defence

Swansea Council are in the process of strengthening the sea defences around Mumbles and require input from the public to help in the project.

Fill out the surveyThe aim is to reduce the risk of flooding to homes and businesses that are increasingly threatened by rising sea levels brought about by climate change.

Funding for new defences has been secured from the Welsh Government – and we want the thoughts of the public, business and others to help shape this significant project.

Fill out the survey
Complete the survey online now

Coed Gwylym Park receives £89,000 to build a new club house

From Coed Gwylym Park:
We have just received some fantastic news that we are delighted to share with you. The National Lottery Community Fund have just confirmed a grant of £89,000 towards our Project to build a new ‘Community Club House’ at the top end of the park near to the carpark, the Heritage Centre, the Canal Society Building, and to one side of the bowling green.
We are now working with the council to finalise the lease of the designated Club House site. Our ambition is to open the Club House in Spring 2022.
The building, which will cost £194,514 to complete, will occupy a focal point in the park, with most park users passing by it when they use the park facilities.
The pavilion-style Club House will include two changing rooms, a multi use toilet, a gents toilet, a store room, a small kitchen and a club room of some 65 square meters.
Our new Club House building will significantly enhance the facilities in the park and satisfy many of the community requests for facilities that we have identified through recent surveys.
These facilities will include a place to meet in the park, a place to shelter, toilet facilities for all, a place to have light refreshments, changing facilities, a place to socialise and to chill out and relax, and even host some social events, as well as providing a venue for school activities.
We also plan to put in a Dog Parking Station so that those out walking their dogs can kennel them outside the club house while they come in for a tea/coffee and a chat.
The club house will be run by volunteers and there will be a rota system for opening, closing and cleaning the facility and replenishing toilet accessories and tea/coffee supplies.
The New Club House facility is being built for the benefit of the whole community with the existing park organisations benefiting with new accessible toilets, changing rooms for some sports, a facility to make tea/coffee and a room to have meetings, a room to undertake activities, provide teas for visiting organisations and bowls teams and a facility to socialise in with the wider community in particular.
This is really great news for our community, and for our park users. We still have work to do to complete this marvellous project and we thank you all for your continued support.
And obviously, we extend a huge thank you to the National Lottery Community Fund.
Friends of Coed Gwylym Community Park has a facebook group here: www.facebook.com/CoedGwilymPark

Mayhill Riots

Following a vigil for a local man, fireworks were thrown and hundreds of people joined in violence in the Mayhill area. Ethan Powell who died on Monday 10th May had been watching Swansea City Championship with his grandfather when he fell ill. He was later found unconscious by his grandmother, he was flown to Morriston hospital where he died on Werdnesday from cardiac arrest / multiple organ failure.

A vigil was organised in Mayhill for the evening after his funeral where balloons were to be released. After the release of balloons, fireworks were then thrown and the crown erupted into violence which attracted more rioters.

The family of Ethan have spoken out against the rioting saying that Ethan would not have wanted this to happen. They have also requested any other vigils to be cancelled.

One resident who asked the rioters if they would move away from his house because he has a baby and small children was met with threats and then rocks thrown through the windows of his home. A resident living on the street where cars were set ablaze and rolled down the hill spoke of his fear for himself and his family, being couped up in their home but ready to instantly leave if their house caught on fire from nearby burning cars. Another resident said they were now living with worry and fear and intends to be leaving the area for the safety of her family.

The Home Secretary Priti Patel said the situation was “absolutely disgraceful”, posting on twitter saying her thoughts are with the residents affected.

Seven Swansea police officers were injured. South Wales Police say they are doing all they can to identify those responsible for the riots. Assistant Chief Constable Jenny Gilmore said the police force is confident it will identify those involved and initiate criminal proceedings against them.

There has been a lot of criticism on social media about the police doing nothing to stop the rioting. This is in despite of the fact that a police presence was visible and attempts were made to quell the riots, however the number of police was not sufficient against the hundreds of rioters who had gathered. Some residents were still left anxious and worried as felt vulnerable despite police presence in the area.

Jenny Gilmore (Assistant Chief Constable) defended the police actions saying: “We saw disorder, violence and criminality on the streets of Mayhill, that is something that we’re not used to seeing here on the streets of south Wales. What we saw last night was disgusting behaviour, utterly unacceptable and caused a great deal of distress, alarm and fear amongst the local community. The numbers of people who were involved last night were significant, we had up to 200 people involved at some points in time. The priority of our officers is always going to be to keep people safe, everything else can be picked up later.The numbers of officers to break up a crowd of that size is far in excess of what we were able to deploy last night. So I’m confident the right decisions were made.”

Mark Drakeford (First Minister) thanked the police for bringing the situation under control and described the rioting as “completely unacceptable and will not be tolerated anywhere in Wales”

Live Blog Updates:
A fundraiser has been started here: www.gofundme.com/f/may-hill-riot

A petition to install CCTV cameras has been started here: www.change.org/p/swansea-council-south-wales-police-swansea-council-install-swp-monitored-cctv-cameras-on-wuan-wen-hill

www.thesecretswansea.co.uk/ The Secret Beach Bar & Kitchen has offered free lunch delivered to any resident who had been affected by the riots.

www.facebook.com/Nicky-Tees-patios-and-drives-106032034947608/ Nicky Tees – Patios & Drives has offered free assistance to any resident needing help.

www.windowdoctorwales.co.uk/ Has offered free assistance to any resident needing windows boarded up / repaired.

Swansea City A.F.C. paid tribute to Ethan today (22th May 2021) via social media.

 

 

This is a live blog. Further updates may follow. 

Oystermouth Castle conservation work

Contractors are preparing to move on site to carry out crucial conservation work to help preserve one of Swansea’s most historic landmarks.
Specialists will be removing invasive vegetation and fixing areas of unstable masonry at Oystermouth Castle in preparation for it reopening to the public this summer.
The Norman built Grade 1 scheduled ancient monument is owned by Swansea Council and run day to day by the volunteer group, Friends of Oystermouth Castle and supported by a Council Castle Development Co-ordinator.
The Friends group successfully applied for part funding from the Welsh Government’s Cultural Recovery Fund to help pay for the work and to prepare social distancing measures for when visitors can tour the castle again.
The oldest part of the current castle is the South Keep which was built in 1107 but much of the work will be centred around Alina’s chapel which was first made accessible to the public following a multi-million pound investment 10 years ago.
The current project aims to slow down the decay of 14th Century paintings located inside of the chapel by carefully removing and replacing the layer of turf, known as softcapping, on top of the chapel walls.
The softcapping acts as a thermal blanket protecting the walls from excess water ingress and frost that can damage the mortar.

Cllr Robert Francis-Davies, Swansea Council’s Cabinet Member for Investment, Regeneration & Tourism said: “Although the castle is closed at the moment, there is a lot of work going on behind the scenes to protect and conserve this important landmark.
“The Friends group, who do a great job bringing this medieval monument to life for visitors, successfully secured funding from the Welsh Government and I’m pleased the council has also contributed in order to maximise the work that is vital to protecting the castle.”
Erika Kluge, Castle Development Co-ordinator, said: “With managing all Grade 1 monuments of such significance, there is always the difficult balance of conservation need yet operating it as a viable visitor attraction at the same time.
“This grant has been crucial in such a strange and unpredictable climate because as well as helping us conclude this second phase of work to the chapel, it has also allowed us to make repairs that have increased security to the castle whilst it has been empty for all these months. It has also enabled us to provide social distancing measures to slowly prepare our volunteers for re-opening when we are able.”
Paul Griffin, Chair of the Friends of Oystermouth Castle, said: “This conservation project is vital to the continuing preservation of this historic monument. We look forward to welcoming visitors back as soon as the work has been concluded.”
It is planned to reopen the castle to the public once the £155,000 project is completed and in line with any Welsh Government restrictions at that time.
Oystermouth Castle © Mel hartshorn cc-by-sa/2.0 :: Geograph Britain and  Ireland

Toothache? Problems finding a dentist? Have your say!

Since the outbreak of COVID-19, we’ve heard from many people about the difficulty they’ve had and continue to have, when trying to book an NHS dentist appointment. We’ve heard that some people are being told that although NHS appointments are not available, they can be treated privately. Others have told us they are waiting in pain. What’s been your experience? Visit this link to share your experience with us: ow.ly/ezsy50ER6ZG
Ers dechrau COVID-19, rydym wedi clywed gan nifer o bobl am yr anhawster maent wedi’i gael, ac yn parhau i’w gael, wrth geisio trefnu apwyntiad gyda deintydd y GIG. Rydym ar ddeall bod rhai pobl wedi derbyn gwybodaeth nad oes apwyntiadau’r GIG ar gael ond y gallasant gael eu trin yn breifat. Mae eraill wedi dweud wrthym eu bod yn aros mewn poen. Beth oedd eich profiad chi? Ewch i’r ddolen hon i rannu’ch profiad gyda ni: ow.ly/GQW250ER7eF
Toothache - Free of Charge Creative Commons Medical image

UKIP Swansea elections – Dan Morgan & Stan Robinson FAIL!

Congratulations to the people of Swansea in showing a complete lack of support for the far right arguably racists Dan Morgan & Stan Robinson. Both failed to gain the votes they were expecting and it is said that they were inconsolable after the results given.

Already their youtube channel has been banned from racism, yet they both run a website and social media platforms called “The Voice Of Wales”.  Certainly they are not the voice of wales despite their claims and this is evidenced due to a low number of supporters within their social media in addition to an even lower number of supporters who voted for them during the local elections.

Both Morgan and Robinson had high hopes for the election, they even went to observe the counting of the votes. An account from their day obtained from their chat room is below. Notice that they all claim they are exempt from wearing masks (possible Covidiots as well as idiots) and had the audacity to potentially put other people at risk due to their inability to wear masks. Account from their chat room below:

 

A day in the life of VOW 
it’s been long overdue, but i finally met Dan and Stan today and got to walk in their shoes for the day. as you know, both Dan and Stan, are standing in the local elections for UKIP in the Swansea area and today, is ballot counting day and this is just a small insight of the day. as soon as we walked into the counting area, you could feel the eyes of other candidates staring at us. there were two police officers in the middle of the room, which took interest in us. when we walked round to a far corner to observe a count, the police decided to approach us for a chat. as none of us were wearing a mask (all have exemptions), they started by asking us the usual “why are you not wearing a mask” etc questions and we informed them of our exemptions. when they started to repeat the questions, they were then reminded, that they were interfering with an election count and they soon left us, so we could continue observing the count. when we started a 2nd walk round of the counting tables, two more police had turned up and all four were watching us. before we arrived at the some corner as before, a local MP walked passed by us and left a snide passing comment. the lads, professional as always, just brushed it off and didn’t rise to his comment. the MP was then observed, talking to a person and this person made a beeline for us. when he approached us, he introduced himself and he was from trading standards. and again, we had the same mask questions as from the police. he had the same reply as what the police did. he too left sharpishly. after a while, we left this counting area, to go into a 2nd counting area. after leaving the 1st room, two of the police followed us into the 2nd counting area. not sure why they followed us, but either police officers wouldn’t stop staring at us. if it was an intimidation tactic, but it wasn’t working.
when the count was quieting down, we left to go to the 3rd counting area in a different venue. when we stopped to observe a count, another trading standards person came to speak to us and said “i know you’ve just come from another counting venue, but is there a reason for you all not wearing a mask?”. again, we informed him, that we are all exempt and when he was asked “how did you know we were at the other venue?” he soon changed his comment to “i said, if you have come from the other venue”. knowing he was caught in his own lie, he soon left us. but it was obvious, that the two venues were talking to each other. we continued to observe the counting. due to other commitments, my day with Dan and Stan , sadly had to come to an early end. and what a day it was. i witnessed first hand, intimidation tactics not only from the police, a (supposedly) trusted elected MP and trading standards. but above all of the tactics, the lads were not fazed by it all and were up beat all day long. people rarely get to see what i witnessed today and i tip my hat to Dan and Stan, for what they have to go through, on a day to day basis and still look at the positives in people and life. thanks guys for having me join you today.

 

Further reading:

UKIP’s Wales leader Neil Hamilton has defended their Senedd election candidate Stan Robinson who sent deeply offensive tweets about Muslims, BBC Wales reports www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-wales-politics-56732799. In the BBC Wales report The Muslim Council of Wales says Stan Robinson’s Twitter account is a “collection of hateful, bigoted and deeply worrying misinformation and conspiracies”. The Swansea based Robinson (pictured left) is number three on the UKIP South Wales West list in the elections to Wales’ Parliament on May 6th. Robinson is also contesting a council by-election for UKIP taking place on the same day in Swansea’s Castle Ward.
BBC Wales reported that on his Twitter account Stan Robinson has in the past fortnight posted several derogatory messages about Islam and Muslims. He retweeted a message labelling migrants “parasites” who should be “arrested” or “shot” to “stop the invasion”. One graphic image was tweeted at the end of last month, depicting the Prophet Muhammad and suggesting child abuse.
Last year we revealed that Robinson made a islamophobic video in Swansea with leading figures on the British far right – Anne Marie Waters and the former BNP organiser Eddy Butler www.facebook.com/FRWWales/posts/957556328092648 Robinson also made national headlines when he called for the castration of a Sky news presenter, made unfounded claims about Muslims being behind a major knife crime and promoted bogus claims that people from Pakistan were responsible for the spread of coronavirus in Britain www.walesonline.co.uk/…/facebook-swansea…
Robinson also managed a YouTube channel which was recently banished from the platform for hate speech www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-wales-56280227 . Before being shut down for violating YT’s ToS the so called ‘Voice of Wales’ channel had hosted interviews with the US domestic terrorist group the Proud Boys and promoted efforts by racists to disrupt player’s BLM solidarity gestures ahead of Swansea City games at the Liberty stadium
The channel’s co-manager Dan Morgan (pictured right), who featured in ukip’s Welsh Parliament election broadcast on television last night and who is standing in Swansea East for the party, was previously involved with the extreme right wing ‘street movement’ the DFLA and he helped organise their rally in Swansea a couple of years back with leader of the neo fascist For Britain party Anne Marie Waters.
Readers may also recall that Morgan promoted that infamous event with leaflets calling the three local labour MPs ‘traitors’. This was a deplorable choice of words and which as we pointed out in this facebook post at the time was no accident www.facebook.com/FRWWales/posts/662924020889215. Jo Cox’s murderer, the neo nazi Thomas Mair, used the word ‘traitor’ when he shot the Labour MP to death outside her constituency office in the run up to the EU referendum in june 2016 and also gave his name as ‘death to traitors’ when appearing in the dock for her savage murder
Also featured in the kipper’s election broadcast last night was their Wrecsam candidate Seb Ross. In this post last month we revealed that Seb Ross has links with anti semitic politicians and is the deputy of the uk chapter of Poland’s far right KORWiN party www.facebook.com/FRWWales/posts/1127053281142951
At yesterday’s manifesto launch Ukip unvieled a raft of hard right policies it would introduce in the unlikely event it wins enough seats to form the next Welsh government (the party presently has one Senedd member – Neil Hamilton). Pledging to reintroduce divisive grammar schools in Wales, end Wales’ proud status as a nation of sanctuary for asylum seekers and refugees, scrap laws designed to foster and preserve the Welsh language by requiring councils to provide services in English and Welsh, abolish the Senedd and return Wales to direct rule from Westminster and a bizarre promise to lift the ban on smoking in pubs in Wales www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-wales-politics-56719845

Songs Of Praise – Liberty Church (Siloh Chapel)

Mark Ritchie, Pastor of Liberty Church Swansea, describes the moving moment when one of the last members of the old chapel handed over the keys to enable the new church community to begin and start a new chapter in the life of the building.
Songs of Praise Sunday 9th May BBC Two 1.15pm
bbc.in/3ekvRbW

Help Dorian & Louise get married

Catherine John started a fundraiser to help Dorian and his long term partner Louise get married. Dorian who was recently diagnosed with terminal cancer has previously worked throughout the pandemic in order to help others. He has also spend nearly 2 decades of his life working for the ambulance service.

Please consider donating to this fundraiser to help with the wedding costs and provide a memorable day for both Dorian and his future wife Louise. You can view the fundraiser and donate here: www.gofundme.com/f/lets-get-dorian-louise-wed

Hi everyone,

This is Dorian, he is 44 years of age and up until a fortnight ago working hard and living life like the rest of us. There are no words that could possibly be written to explain how is family, friends and colleagues are feeling right now, after learning that Dorian has been diagnosed with terminal cancer.
Dorian has dedicated almost 20 years of his life working for the ambulance service, helping others and saving lives. He has worked tirelessly and selflessly throughout the pandemic doing the job that he loves. Dorian is a very popular person and is well respected by everyone who knows him.
Dorian’s wish is to marry his long term partner Louise, of whom he shares 3 children with.
This is a message to all that know Dorian and would like to do their bit to help, we would like to make his dream of getting married a reality. Let us give Dorian and his family a day filled with love, a day that they had dreamt of but in different circumstances, a day of celebration and also a day that memories can be made that will last a lifetime.
Please help us to make this happen, lets help Dorian get married to his soulmate Louise.

Thanks everyone.

COVID Christmas: Was it truly like no other?

The Lord Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby. Photo by Roger Harris. CC BY 3.0.

By Ian Inkster

It’s clear enough—COVID-19 did not stop for Christmas. If anything, its presence and its potency both accelerated, with new, more persistent and infectious strains identified. On Christmas evening the number of cases rose by 522,664 to a total of 80,257,970, one of the highest daily increases since February. Deaths rose by 8,621 to a total of 1,757,249. This last number is greater than the combined war deaths of the USA, Britain, and France during World War II. In the most numerous of Christian nations, the USA, cases rose by 149,049, around 50 per cent of total American casualties throughout the whole of World War II.

Hunger and violence do not stop for Christmas. Most violent death since 1945 has centred in poor nations. This is, indeed, true of the Second World War (1937-45), as well. In those years, more people died of war casualties or associated starvations and ill-health in China and Russia than in the rest of the world put together—by far. If we take the entire 20th century, there were possibly as many as 180 million deaths by war across our world. But we cannot estimate the indirect war casualties, those that arose from starvation, exposure and infection. Nearly all such war and death crossed over Christmas without a qualm.

At Sunday Mass on December 27, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, the head of the Church of England, labelled this Christmas as “a Christmas like no other.” What could he have meant? Even in the greatest of cathedrals, Anglican Christians surely recognise that Christmas Day occurs across our globe, in regions of Christianity, in non-Christian cultures, and in those that get by without the aid of any recognised religion at all.

The visitation of COVID was all but universal, even the sparseness of Western Sahara has seen 10 cases and one death. But in poor nations, the visitation of human violence merely continued as usual. Among the many millions who constitute the poorest of the poor, often on the frontiers of huge tracts of land, or as the unseen denizens of the undergrounds and the invisible economies of huge cities, Christmas is always brutish. In many such places, COVID-19 travels by almost unnoticed.

Violence by national states against other states has focused on the poor nations of Asia, Africa, South America, and Eastern Europe. Since World War II notable bloody conflicts have begun just before and continued across Christmas in all variety of poor regions, often instigated or supported by Christian regimes, killing through firepower or starvation Christian, Jew, Muslim, Hindu and Buddhist peoples, the great majority as innocent as any of the adults of the original Christian nativity. We might name the 36-nation Gulf War of 1990-91, or Afghanistan from October 2001.

It is hardly surprising that most expert global analysts have long argued that starvation on our earth is not primarily a result of our inability to produce enough food to feed 7.5 billion people. It is a function of our unwillingness to distribute food to those in greatest need. This, in turn, is not due to the ill-will of any ordinary citizen of the USA, or of Europe, or of Australia, Japan, Canada, or Taiwan or China or even of any of the small, new rich nations of the Middle East.

It is, however, a result of the inept violence of political regimes in such nations, and of the insufficient power, humanity or compulsion of such international organisations as the United Nations. It is wars that stop flows of food and medicines, either as aid or in markets, and it is citizens of supposed democratic nations that continually allow this to happen. All the prayers of Christmas make no difference, for they have as much effect on warfare as on COVID-19. But whereas COVID-19 might now be stopped by the scientific willpower of modernity, the urge to war and destruction has not been hampered by Christian goodwill.

A long time ago Francis Galton (1822-1911), wrote a statistical comic masterpiece, an article entitled “On the Efficacy of Prayer.” It has never been surpassed. He argued that if it were indeed, true that there existed an imminent all-powerful Christian God who answered the prayers of His [sic] worshippers, then surely as they were then the most common recipients of such prayers, Royal families, all clergymen and members of charitable committees should be in receipt of prayerful well wishes and pleas for long life and happiness. Yet the analysis showed that royalty and clerics lived no longer than lawyers and slave traders, so how efficacious could prayer possibly be?

We now have an even better laboratory than Galton’s—The Global COVID Lab. And in it, the power of goodwill at Christmas is shown to be of little importance.

While we might for all sorts of reasons celebrate Christmas “as best we can” (the injunction of our politicians), do not let us fall into the Archbishop’s gambit—for our world and the faiths we have in it, this has not been a “Christmas like no other.” For many millions, it has been like all others that they have known—painful, often sordid, sometimes deadly.

So, for the Londoners who attended services at Christmas in a highly restricted manner, or for the many millions who celebrated virtual services and rituals, for all those who shared richly wrapped presents and reciprocated their sweetly illustrated Christmas cards, I might allow that this has been a “Christmas like no other.” But for many millions, Christmas has passed by pretty much the same as usual. Hunger, violence and COVID-19 did not stop.

Professor Ian Inkster is a global historian and political economist at SOAS University of London, who has taught and researched at universities in Britain, Australia, Taiwan and Japan. He is the author of 13 books on Asian and global dynamics with a particular focus on industrial and technological development, and the editor of History of Technology since 2000. Forthcoming books are Distraction Capitalism: The World Since 1971, and Invasive Technology and Indigenous Frontiers. Case Studies of Accelerated Change in History, with David Pretel. Follow him on Twitter at @inksterian

Article licenced under creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/ Source: globalvoices.org

Analysis of teachers’ perspectives on how social class affects children’s academic outcome and overall experience of school

Analysis of teachers’ perspectives on how social class affects children’s academic outcome and overall experience of school

Danielle Joyce BA (hons.)
Swansea University

2020

 

Acknowledgments

Firstly, I would like to start with thanking my supervisor Dr Ceryn Evans and my personal tutor Dr Cathryn Knight.  Throughout my three years at university these two lecturers have ensured on going support, comfort and encouragement and I could not have achieved this without them.

I would also like to express my gratitude to each of the participants for giving their time and sharing their personal stories and views with myself. Particularly those who continued to participate despite a global pandemic. This research would not have been possible without these teachers and their experiences.

Lastly, I would personally like to thank my family and friends who have offered support and help throughout my university career.

 

Abstract

This paper reports the findings of an investigation into teachers’ perceptions of social class;
the ways in which it manifests within the education system and its’ affects upon pupils in
terms of both educational outcomes and experiences. This study employs qualitative
methods of data collection and thematic analysis throughout. The COAH ethics’ protocols
were respected throughout this study.
The participants were recruited using a convenience sample and comprised six teachers and teaching assistants, drawn from a broad spectrum of differing socio-economic backgrounds within West Glamorgan, The findings from the interviews involving this sample conclude that class often – although, not always – proves to be a significant determining factor which impacts upon a student’s academic outcome and experience. Interestingly, a number of the individuals within the sample were also able to identify methods that could be utilised in order to redress this inequality, to ‘close the gap’, as it were, between students from differing social classes. The evidence from this study indicates that social class often has an impact on a child’s educational outcomes and/or experiences, and that teachers are often aware of this factor. It was identified from the evidence that those from working class backgrounds are often disadvantaged and are subject to certain inequalities within education- primary examples being a limited access to resource material and/or additional tuition.

Table of contents

Acknowledgements                                                                                                     i  Table of Contents                                                                                                        ii  List of Appendices                                                                                                       iv Abstract                                                                                                                       v

Chapter one: introduction                                                                                           1

Chapter two: Literature review                                                                                  2  2.1 Introduction                                                                                                          3

2.2 The impact of social class on children/young peoples’ educational                              3    attainment and experiences

2.3 Explanations for the relationship between social class and education                          6

2.4 Teachers’ perceptions on ‘ability’, temperament, ‘teachability’ or school readiness        8

2.5 Conclusion                                                                                                             9

 

Chapter three: Methods and methodology

3.1 Introduction                                                                                                         10

3.2 Research design and method                                                                                 10

3.3 Sample and setting                                                                                              11

3.4 Ethical considerations                                                                                           12

3.5 Data analysis                                                                                                       13

 

Chapter four: Findings/analysis

4.1 Introduction                                                                                                         15

4.2 Teacher influence and school support                                                                     15

4.3 Parental and family influence                                                                                 18

4.4 Teachers perceptions of academic achievement                                                       20

4.5 Conclusion                                                                                                           22

Chapter five: Discussion/Conclusion

5.1 Discussion                                                                                                           23

5.2 Conclusion                                                                                                           24

 

Bibliography                                                                                                               27

 

Appendices

Appendix A                                                                                                                    Appendix B                                                                                                                  Appendix C                                                                                                                    Appendix D

List of appendices

Appendix A: Interview questions

Appendix B: Consent form

Appendix C: Participant Information Sheet

Appendix D: Research Diary

Chapter 1
Introduction

This research study will focus specifically on the way in which teachers perceive the impact of social class upon the academic outcomes and experiences, within education of their pupils. In order to gain a properly contextualised understanding of the role of class as it reveals itself within the education system, this paper will take into account recent research and academic discourse that comments on the broader questions of the interrelationship between contemporary society and social class. It will also consider the importance of the subjective experiences and perspectives of educators (teachers and teaching assistants) and the way in which this might be crucial to both education and education policies within the United Kingdom.

The decision to focus on this important issue stems, in part, from the personal experience of having been raised in a working-class household in social housing and, as such, the insight gained from the lived experience of the way in which class impacts upon educational experience and outcome. In a broader social context, there is evidence of an obvious increase in class inequality. In terms of education this is reflected and regularly highlighted in the media with reports of disadvantaged pupils being ‘stuck’ 18 months behind those from a more affluent background. This is a point endorsed by Coughlan who insists that for each year that a child spends in education, the gap between rich and poor grows wider (Coughlan., 2019; Coughlan, 2018). Using this as a starting point for discussion, this study will examine the attitudes and perceptions gathered from the convenience sample of educators in order to gain some insight on the way in which class difference, and the perception of class difference, influences educational opportunities and outcome.

The United Kingdom has the fifth largest global economy. Yet, a UNICEF report, looking at educational inequalities throughout 41 countries, ranks the ranks the United Kingdom as 16th from the top in terms of educational inequality during the secondary school years. Still worse, in terms of primary education the UK came 23rd (Chzhen., Rees., Gromada, Cuesta & Bruckauf., 2018). This is clearly unacceptable and clearly demonstrates a drastic need to address the situation; urgent improvements must be made to ensure equality throughout our education system. Consequently, this study aims to identify specifically what, in the opinion of teaching staff, need to be done.

It is evident that the government’s attempts to ensure equality, such as the Equality Act for schools (Welsh Government., 2014) and the pupil deprivation grant (Welsh Government., 2019), meant to provide support for those from low income backgrounds, have not been successful.  Moreover, there is an urgent need to uncover why, even with these government guidelines and aid in place, there is still a persistent issue of educational inequality. It is significant to note how this class-based disadvantage has tended to pertain even within schools where there is a pro-active emphasis on equality and equal opportunity.

It is intended that this study will contribute to the pre-existing body of knowledge in this field of research, by focusing on the insight gained from the opinions of both teachers and teaching assistants from the primary and secondary sectors, in order to shed new and illuminating professional insight into the function of parental roles, government influence and achievement levels throughout the social classes.

The study is structured as follows: chapter two will discuss  some of the key texts from the pre-existing body of research in relation to the impact social class on children’s academic outcomes and achievements, the possible explanations for the relationship between social class and education and also, teachers’ perceptions of social class and how it affects children’s abilities and outcomes. Chapter 3 outlines and explains the methodological approach involved in this study. Chapter 4 will discuss and analyse the findings – specifically, teacher influence and school support, parental and family influence, and finally, teachers’ perceptions of academic achievement. In conclusion it will be argued how and why the findings of this paper might usefully influence future decisions within schools and how it might constructively affect current government policy.

Chapter two
Literature Review

2.1 Introduction

This research aims to explore teachers’ views of social class and its consequent impact on children and young people’s academic attainment and outcomes. The literature discussed in this chapter provides a theoretical framework for the study: Identifying the attainment gap that exists amongst pupils from differing socio-economic backgrounds it both informs and confirms the findings of the present study. Importantly, these texts offer a properly contextualised and informed background discussion of government policy, family influence and pupil experience thus facilitating a broader understanding and response to the overarching research topic.

2.2 The impact of social class on children/young peoples’ educational attainment and experience

The relationship between social class and educational attainment is well documented. For example, according to Andrews, Robinson and Hutchinson (2017), the gap between disadvantaged pupils and their peers nationally, at the end of secondary school, is at 19.3 months. It is thought that throughout secondary school more advantaged students tend to advance on those who are disadvantaged by approximately two months every year. If this situation were allowed to continue, it is estimated that it would take around fifty years in order to completely close this gap. This is clearly unacceptable. The introduction of tougher exams throughout England in 2019 has clearly, for the present, disrupted any moves to narrow the attainment gap as only 456 of the 143,000 of pupils who were considered to be from a disadvantaged background (meaning they received free school meals or were in Local Authority care) achieved top grade 9s in English and maths. Comparing these figures with the 6,132 pupils of the 398,000 who were not considered to be from a disadvantaged background, the disparity is shocking. Similarly, and in the same year, just 36% of students who received free school meals achieved a grade 4 in maths, while more than two-thirds of their peers achieved this grade. It is evident from these results that there is still an enormous and disturbing attainment gap between children from differing social backgrounds (Department of Education., 2020). Many schools have now opted to focus on children’s individual progress, as opposed to just on those who receive top grades, to identify the most academically affluent children. ESTYN have collated a number of more encouraging reports from schools such as Ysgol Bro Gwydir (ESTYN., 2018) and Maendy Primary School (ESTYN., 2017). These schools have been pro-active in choosing to encourage pupils’ personal development and educational outcomes by using tools such as intervention groups which focus on important issues such as pupil’s well-being and overall educational experience.

Archer, Hutchings, Ross and others have consistently argued that those from more affluent, middle class families are in a position of advantage from the moment they first enter education; significantly, this advantage seems to increase as they progress through the system.  (Archer, Hutchings, & Ross. 2005; Bathmaker, Ingram, & Waller, 2013; Andrews, Robinson, & Hutchinson. 2017). Worryingly, this is often seen to be at the expense of less socially and economically privileged peers.  Parental influence often leads to lower aspirations amongst those from the working class which, combined with the ne obvious influence of place and limitations of space pace, often work negatively to further undermine the educational possibilities available to these children. Whilst the government would seem to be working to eliminate such inequalities, the reality is that little has changed in real terms. For example, the devolved Welsh Assembly introduced a pupil development grant (Welsh Government., 2019) which aimed to improve students’ academic achievement by providing more funding per pupil. This includes £125 made available to low income families for the purchase of school uniform. However, a review found that although this funding would indicate some narrowing in the gap, this gap was already shown to be closing. Moreover, the government has not met the full demands needed in order for the grant to reach its full potential (Children, Young People and Education Committee, 2018). This shows that more still needs to be done to enable equality and sufficient aid for those from lower income households in order to address the attainment gap.

This study focuses its attention in primary and secondary education as the period shown to be most likely to influence future life choices. However, it is worth noting that class difference and its’ related privileges and advantages persists through to higher education also. Historically, and in contrast to those from a working-class background, the tendency has been for those of the middle and upper middle classes to progress to higher education and beyond (Archer., Hutchings, & Ross, 2005). It has been said that those from more privileged backgrounds are more likely to achieve a sought-after graduate position at university as they have been conditioned to ‘play the game’. (Bathmaker, Ingram. & Waller., 2013) Furthermore, they are shown to be at a significant advantage in terms of career prospects that, in turn, both confirms and perpetuates a class bias. Wiseman has posited that one reason for this might be the tendency in working class households to encourage immediate rather than deferred earning potential. Indeed, in situations where poverty is a real determining factor this might be a necessity (Wiseman et al., 2017).

It is important to understand that class impacts not only on a child’s educational outcome but also, and perhaps even more importantly, on his/her overall educational experience; the way in which it shapes the perceptions of others towards that individual. Think, for instance, about the ways in which a child’s socio-economic positioning might contribute to victimisation and bullying, or how it might highlight a child’s difference because of a limited access to extra-curricular activities. This illustrates what DeAngelis has observed as the widening gap between classes which seems to negatively affect ‘health, well-being, self-image, relationships, stereotyping and prejudice’ (DeAngelis., 2015). This goes some way to explaining why there is often bullying between children from differing social classes. Moreover, it has been shown that socially and economically disadvantaged pupils are most likely to be involved within ‘bully culture’ – either as perpetrator or as a victim (Jansen et al., 2012).  Further confirmation of this phenomenon can be seen in the fact that, as one study specifically demonstrates, countries with high levels of income inequality often results in an increased incidence bullying amongst school children (Elgar, Craig, Boyce., Morgan. & Vella-Zarb., 2009).

An important, and related concern highlights the marked difference in social interaction both with peers and with teaching staff. It has been found that socially disadvantaged pupils are far are more likely to experience unstructured social situations, spending time with peers in the absence of any authority figure (Mahoney., Larson., & Eccles., 2005). Although somewhat controversially, this kind of unsupervised socialising has been linked with higher rates of deviance that, it is said, will inevitably bear upon both educational experience and outcomes. (Bachman, Wallace, O’Malley, Johnston., Kurth., & Neighbors.1991). Yet, in contrast, it has been argued, interestingly, that those pupils from a less privileged background display significantly more empathy than their socially and economically advantaged peers who tend to be motivated more by self-interest and who appear to excel in terms of confidence and independence. This appears to have a cumulative affect and ultimately enhances both the educational and employment opportunities made available by Higher Education (Manstead, 2018). Of course, this highlights the urgency of the need for government and policy makers to address the underlying issue of inequality within the education system and to establish the provision of a broad-based skills set.

As has already been mentioned the divergence in educational experiences amongst pupils also extends to after school activities. A study that focuses specifically on extra-curricular activities has concluded that the students who did not participate tend to fall into one or more of the following categories: those whose socioeconomic status was lower, those who received lower grades, and attended larger schools (Feldman, & Matjasko, 2007). This indicates educational experiences throughout school. There is often a similar difference within young people’s social lives since males from a working-class background are more likely to inherit a more toxic view of education and the experiences that go with it. Ward (2015) discusses masculinities within working class men and how they are influenced by their surroundings. He says, ‘Young working-class masculinities are not just shaped by place, but masculine identities shape and influence the specific character of places themselves’ (p.34). This could have a drastic influence on young males’ educational experiences as they could see education in a negative light and change behaviours, therefore adapt the character of the place, leading to a lack of positive experience’s for other students.

2.3 Explanations for the relationship between social class and education

Although social class is immediately linked with wealth or occupation, there are often differing connotations when linked with education. Social class can have a range of impacts on children’s’ education, such as their access to materials and also, access to social and cultural resources or capitals. A key example here of the way in which class informs a child’s educational outcomes is the material resources to which hey and their family have access to. These resources include the books children have access to, the additional help available (such as private tutors), clothes that are worn, trips that are taken and even down to the food which children eat (Weis & Dolby, 2012). This could therefore have a dramatic impact on students’ educational attainment as children from a higher-class background could have access to relevant books and additional support which those from a lower-class background might not afford. It has been said that factors such as additional tuition is ‘detriment to the public good’ as it disrupts the intention of education which is to create equal opportunities for children from all backgrounds and social classes (Heyneman, 2011). Therefore, students from a more affluent background are more advantaged when it comes to educational development as they can afford additional help and tuition.

The social class of children is almost always linked to their parental social class and societal upbringing. For example, when examining learned behaviours amongst adolescents involving smoking and drinking, it is thought that gender and social class derive a large involvement on the impact from parental influences. Those from a lower-class background are more likely to smoke if their parents do (Green., Macintyre, West, & Ecob, 1991) and therefore, it is important to take social class into account when analysing children’s learned behaviours as both social class and parental influences often overlap, including throughout education. According to the department for children, schools and families (2008), it is thought that parents have the most important impact on children, along with the people and places they are associated with. Often, young people from more deprived areas are less likely to develop ‘ambitious, achievable aspirations’, this can be related to the experiences and influences from their parents and social class experiences, However, this is not the case for all deprived areas as some young people grow up with strong aspirations and aim to escape their societal disadvantages and background (Roberts, & Evans, 2013). I aim to obtain the opinions of teachers on the influence in which social class and parental roles have on children’s educational outcomes.

A key factor that contributes to children’s educational outcomes and experiences is that of social and cultural capital. Throughout the 1980’s and 1990’s government policy attempted to tackle this by encouraging higher parental involvement with their children’s academic experience through the introduction of quasi-markets within educational settings. These markets were implemented to ensure factors such as parental choice surrounding their children’s education along with the publication of information on schools to influence these decisions and encourage schools to provide diversity (Croxford, & Raffe, 2007). However, many parents from a lower socioeconomic background will have sociological understanding and ability to make effective decisions. Whereas, those from a more middle- or upper-class background tend to utilise ‘the market’ and their contacts to ensure they can maintain the class advantage and make appropriate decisions to ensure the best educational possibilities for their children (Ball., 2006). This creates an automatic disadvantage for children from a lower socioeconomic background.

A study carried out in 2008 (Vincent., Braun., & Ball), compared interviews with mothers from both middle and working-class backgrounds. The findings indicated a difference both in their respective understandings of appropriate childcare and in their experiences of social networking. The suggestion is that a lack of social capital amongst working class parents would most likely result in missed opportunities regarding childcare, schools and support. Class difference then can be said to have an influence on child development and, importantly on the accessibility to education and knowledge. This is endorsed by Garcia and Weiss (2017), who have demonstrated the way in which the performance gaps determined by social class tend to develop within the early years of childhood, thus confirming social class as a principal determinant in the prediction of a child’s educational success. The research also illustrates how children who begin their education from a position of social and economic disadvantage tend to be dis-equipped and rarely outperform more advantaged peers. This is further confirmed by the consistency of data between 1998 and 2010 and it will be of interest to examine the attitudes of teachers in regard to tackling this persistent issue.

2.4 Teachers’ perceptions on ‘ability’, temperament, ‘teachability’ or school readiness

It has been proven that positive teacher-student relationships have a significant and positive impact on pupils’ experience of education and confirms the importance of that fundamental relationship and its relevance to influencing and nurturing a positive attitude towards education. (Danielsen., Samdal., Hetland., & Wold., 2009). A study involving secondary school teachers also showed that most teachers view themselves as subject matter, didactical and pedagogical experts (Beijaard., Verloop., & Vermunt., 2000). A further study showed that a teacher involved recognised that understanding students’ culture would enable her to become a better teacher and recognises how much of an impact culture has on children’s academic outcomes and experiences (Allard., & Santoro., 2006).

However, it should be noted that there is often a subconscious bias amongst teachers in terms of class, gender and ethnicity, which often comes as a shock to teachers who rarely harbour any conscious bias (Clark., & Zygmunt., 2014). An example of this kind of bias shows how in one multi-racial school, black teachers viewed the white children as middle class and ‘good’ students. On the other hand, white teachers viewed these students as low income and ‘unremarkable’ within this context (Morris., 2005).

Regrettably whilst there has been some study of teachers’ attitudes and perceptions of identity, there is a profound absence of serious recent research specifically evaluating teachers’ attitudes to class as it relates to educational experience and outcome. There has been some evidence to suggest  that teaching staff  tend to have more positive perceptions of their relationships with White and Hispanic parents and pupils, than their relationships with A study in which looked at the teacher-parent and teacher-student relationships identified that teachers perceived their relationships with white and Hispanic pupils and parents more positively than those with their African and black American counterparts (Hughes., Gleason., & Zhang., 2005). This shows that there is still a palpable racial inequality at work in education. One might argue that this, in many ways, echoes something of the class difference as it manifests within the British education system.

2.5 Conclusion

The aforementioned texts all highlight and expose a continuing socio-economic gap that persists within our education system. Moreover, this body of literature confirms this class divide continues to grow, the poorest fifth of the population accounting for a shocking 4% of the country’s wealth. (Kidd, 2019). This is a shocking statistic, and well documented since these studies all confirm the urgent need to redress this inequality. There is however a significant gap in the literature in regard to teachers’ personal and subjective perceptions of social class and its relationship to educational outcomes and experiences. It is this gap in the pre-existing body of research that this paper aims to address

Chapter three
Methodology

3.1 Introduction

Teachers have a singularly important role in so far as they have the first-hand experience that places them in a unique position to offer solutions for combatting the inequalities suffered by pupils from socially and economically disadvantaged back grounds. Taking this as a basic premise, this study aims to answer the following questions:

  • What are teachers’ views on the role of social class in children’s academic progress?
  • What are teachers’ views on working with and supporting children from different social class backgrounds?
  • How can teachers be equipped to support the academic progress of children from ranging social class backgrounds?

It is believed that in attempting to explore these issues, this research will influence and facilitate future policymaking in a way that will benefit disadvantaged pupils.

Throughout this study, the method of data collection used was that of semi- structured interviews. This method enabled and allowed for a deeper insight into the teachers views and understanding of social class (Fylan, 2005). This was made possible by the specificity of the questions whilst still allowing for the freedom for more in depth discussion if it were felt that the participant might have more to say on the topic. The data collected from each of the interview was then compared with other interviews from the sample and also with reference to previous research surrounding this topic (Cohen & Crabtree., 2006). The study is positioned in the interpretivist perspective, thus enabling the examination and interpretation of the implicit meanings that the participants attach to their lives and social experiences. (O’donoghue, 2006) This epistemological approach along with the social constructivism and ontological approach is fitting for the study of social class, its construction and impact on educational outcome and experience (Husserl,1965).

 

3.2 Research design and method

The semi-structured interviews took place within familiar settings for the participants in order to ensure that they felt safe, and comfortable to answer these questions ‘face to face’. The decision to conduct these interviews face to face, instead of other means of communication, ensured a positive understanding between interviewer, and interviewee. Moreover, there is evidence to suggest that face to face interviews provide a clear understanding of questions and that participants are more likely to provide more in-depth answers (Irvine., Drew & Sainsbury., 2013).

I conducted six interviews with teachers and teaching assistants located in schools within the South Wales area. Each one lasted between twenty and thirty minutes and was recorded on a mobile phone. The recording enabled me to later transcribe the data, and thus ensure it was accurate, whilst also allowing me to analyse the questions and evaluate the way in which they were to reflect the research aims. To ensure the participants were able to inform me of their views and any additional information on the topic, they were offered the opportunity to do so outside of the interview questions thus allowing for any additional information, they deemed necessary.

The use of semi-structured interviews as opposed to more formal questionnaires had the additional benefit of allowing for a more personal interaction with the participants, and as such encouraged them to share personal information and experiences that would have proved difficult to obtain from a questionnaire. One disadvantage of this method of data collection was that it precluded the analysis of macro patterns amongst the sample setting, that a survey would have made possible. (Fielding., Fielding., & Fielding., 1986). However, I did not intend to explore specific macro patterns.  Rather, I wanted to gather rich and detailed accounts of teachers’ views and perspectives, and therefore it was decided that the semi-structured interviews were the most suitable approach.

3.3 Sample and setting

This primary purpose of the study is to focus on teachers’ perspectives of social class, and how it affects children’s academic outcomes and experiences; therefore, the sample included a variety of six teachers and teaching assistants from both primary and secondary school settings. The study was carried out within three primary schools and one secondary school within the West Glamorgan area of South Wales. Each school was chosen specifically because of its location within an area where there was evidence of class difference and deprivation. Specifically, the schools were each located within the catchment area of both social and private housing, thus ensuring the necessary presence of sociocultural diversity that would inform the participants’ individual responses. Each school was an English medium, state school. By using a range of participants from differing settings, year group and level, I was able to gather a broad overall opinion that reflected the teaching profession. Access to the individuals that comprised this convenience sample was obtained, initially, by emailing teachers from a number of schools with which I already had a prior relationship.

Each of the participants acknowledged the experience of class differences within their schools. I chose to include teaching assistants within my research as they often experience more one on one contact with children and, as such, are more likely to notice any underlying issues or problems that perhaps the class teacher would miss. The participants included the following:

Table 1: Participants in sample

Pseudonym Role Number of years teaching School year groups they teach within their organisation
Miss Bond Teacher 11 years 7 – 13.
Miss Brown Teacher 18 years 7, 8, 11, 12 and 13.

Also, head of year 11

Mr Davies Teacher 28 years 7-13.

Also, head of English.

Miss Smith Teaching assistant 11 years Year 2 but spent 11 years teaching reception.
Mr John Deputy head teacher 25 years No specific teacher responsibilities but often covers year 6 for PPA.
Miss Palmer Teaching assistant for ALN children 3 years Foundation phase.

 

The interviews took place within the teachers own classroom space to ensure ease of access. This familiarity of surroundings was intended to encourage the teachers involved to open up more within the interview itself. Also, importantly the surroundings were more likely to trigger relevant memories.

3.4 Ethical considerations

Throughout my research and interviews, I was faced with multiple ethical issues much like any other researcher. The main considerations I ensured to take are that of informed consent, confidentiality and also anonymity.

According to BERA (2018) consent must be given by participant at the start of the study and the researcher must understand that if the participant chooses to withdraw consent at any time the research with said person must not continue. I ensured I provided each participant with an information sheet, via email, explaining what the study required of them, prior to any agreement from the participant to provide consent. Each participant was then able to make an informed decision; to consent and sign the consent form, thus agreeing to take part and to allow me to record their interview session. At the beginning and end of each interview I clarified that the participants were still willing for me to use the data collected from their interview sessions within my research study.

Participants in this study had, and still have, a right to confidentiality and anonymity throughout (BERA, 2018). I have ensured I have complied with this throughout the research, to the best of my ability. I have done this by using pseudonyms for the names of participants I informed participants that they have confidentiality by means of protected identity, however, that this cannot be completely guaranteed as in extreme cases some people may carry out research to identify participants. The data I collected from each interview was deleted from my mobile phone and transferred to a password protected laptop to ensure access is as restricted as possible.

 

3.5 Data analysis

To analyse the data collected from my research, I first transcribed each interview accurately to ensure the themes and opinions were clear throughout. I then used key concepts from my literature review including the role that parents play within children’s academic life; the support provided by the government for schools to code the transcripts. By coding the transcripts, I was able to identify the most important points that answered my research questions. Following this, I further analysed my qualitative data by conducting thematic analysis on the data which I had collected, thus enabling me to identify specific themes and patterns (that were noted across multiple interviews (Braun & Clarke., 2006).  The themes which emerged from the data are as follows:

  • Parental and family influence
  • Teacher influence and school support
  • Teachers’ perceptions of academic achievement

These themes were crucial to the proper evaluation of the evidence gathered and helped fully formulate my own questions.

 

Chapter four
Findings/analysis

4.1 Introduction

Using thematic analysis this chapter will present the findings from the interviews in terms of the key themes that emerged from the analysis of the data:  teacher influence and school support, parental and family influence and finally, teachers’ perceptions of academic achievement.

4.2 Teacher Influence and school support

A strong theme to emerge from the data was that of teacher influence and school support. A number of participants alluded to the influence of good teaching practice, professional development and personal knowledge of those children from disadvantaged backgrounds. It is suggested that these factors are crucial in determining the successful support by schools of children from socio-economically disadvantaged backgrounds.

Each of the six interviews, placed significant emphasis on the importance of good teachers, their professional development and teachers’ awareness of their students’ social backgrounds. Specifically, they identified how a level of openness within the teacher/pupil relationship ensures a level of understanding of the circumstances of children’s home lives and socio-economic backgrounds. For example, Miss Bond and Miss Brown, both from secondary schools and, similarly, Miss Palmer from a primary school highlighted this:

Miss Bond: If you teach them one year and you carry on teaching them, you get to             know them more and more. And, you know, we’re not like robots. They do talk about         their lives and their family and things like that. So, you do get to know a bit more

       Miss Brown: Talking to children or having conversations about their lives and what’s           going on in their lives or what’s happened last night. You kind of piece together                   information sort of as you go along. You know, the odd comment here and there                 doesn’t necessarily mean someone’s got a terrible social background, but then you             might hear something else and something else is something else and then all that               together, then you start to think that things are a bit worse than you thought.

       Miss Palmer: I know a lot about the children’s background in my class because we like         to communicate well with the families and the children we work with.

Each of these teachers emphasise the importance of strong relationships and non-academic based conversations within both primary and secondary school organisations. This illustrates how a positive teacher/student relationship encourages openness and discussion of social class and any issues they have. This often leads to a positive experience of school, therefore impacting on academic attainment and educational experience. This correlates with the findings of research published by Danielsen, Samdal, Hetland and Wolds (2009) findings that posits a positive teacher/pupil relationship as fundamental to educational satisfaction.

The six participants involved within this study were of varied professional experience that ranged between 3 and 28years. Interestingly, however, each individual had apparently noted an increased emphasis on an increased emphasis on class difference within education. For example, Mr John said:

It really has changed, there has been more of a focus from governments in trying to          support and raise the standards of these children who come from deprived areas or            cultural areas. And schools now are more accountable on how these children are                supported, which was never the case, really, in the past. You know, you were just              left up to it to get on with it.

This would indicate that teachers feel that the efforts of both schools and government, such as the introduction of the pupil deprivation grant (Welsh Government., 2019), are important in attempting address class difference and related educational outcomes. Funding was a recurring theme in this context. For example, Mr Davies discusses further professional development and the positive impact this has had on more socially disadvantaged pupils including those in receipt of free school meals:

We have an EFSM [eligible for free school meals] series of continuing professional               learning sessions, where the latest research was shared with staff where we all                   agreed to try all different strategies including being aware of who our FSM students             were by positive discriminating for FSM students by actively rewarding and praising             FSM students in class and that’s had a big impact.

Previous research has shown that teachers often exert subconscious biases, often unconsciously perceiving those pupils from differing cultural and socio-economic backgrounds as less able within school and academic settings (Morris., 2005; Clark., & Zygmunt., 2014). However, as we can see from Mr Davies’s interview extract, having an awareness of children on FSM, and hence from socio-economically disadvantaged backgrounds, could have positive implications, especially if practices such as positive discrimination are used.

It has emerged from the set of interviews that government funding is utilised in both primary and secondary schools to encourage the educational development and academic experiences of children from less socially affluent backgrounds This funding has been used in each of the schools that participated in this study. For example,

Miss Bond: We provided every pupil who had free school meals with like a resource             pack. So, they had like an art book, they had a pencil case full of stuff and like the             school, spent a lot of money on that, but because the pupils, some of them would               sort of used to having nice things and they sort of didn’t take care of them

Miss Brown: Free school meals kids in school, obviously, get free school meals, they           can go on free trips, they don’t pay for trips, they can get free study guides, they get         given equipment, they can be given uniform, so all those sort of physical things can           be done.

Miss Smith: Children have access to free school meals and breakfast clubs.

These activities and additional aid can begin to positively influence a student’s wellbeing, health and relationships which have previously been said to be negatively impacted by the increasing gap between social classes within education (DeAngelis, 2015). These interviews further support the previous data and evidence that emphasises, for instance, the importance of support and also of the teachers’ awareness of children who receive free school meals. This shows a strong feeling on this topic is present across all interviews. Factors such as free school meals and funded trips offer children from the most deprived backgrounds the opportunity to achieve within education and to receive a positive education experience.

A further form of government funding that was frequently discussed by the participants was the pupil deprivation grant. This grant was implemented to provide more funding per pupil in an attempt to close the gap between students from differing social classes (Welsh Government., 2019). Both Mr Davies and Mr John alluded to the PDG in their respective interviews, commenting on its impact from their individual professional perspectives:

Mr Davies: I’ve worked in some schools where we’ve used PG pupil deprivation grants         to provide additional tuition for some students. That’s been successful in some                   schools. But then the pupil deprivation grant isn’t a limitless fund.

Mr John: The majority of it goes on teacher and support staff salaries to help those             children. We use it to employ an attendance officer. Because obviously attendance is           really important for children, and if they don’t turn up to school, then they’re not               going to make the progress … We’ve employed a family liaison officer … And we have         sort of our well-being officer that deals with the sort of well-being side of children               because we are finding that it’s becoming more and more of an issue now with                   children’s mental health, and things like that.

Mr Davies and Mr Johns accounts highlight the ways in which how the pupil                        deprivation grant, PDG, is being utilised to benefit children from all social backgrounds        and to improve their academic outcomes and experiences. However, both were keen to        point out that there was insufficient funding to ensure equality and appropriate aid is          available for each and every child. This coincides with the findings of the Children,              Young People and Education committee (2018), which concluded that more needed to        be done in order for the grant to reach its full potential.

 

4.3 Parental and family influence

Participants tended to emphasise the importance of parental and family influence and discussed how a positive support network has an impact on children’s academic experiences and outcomes. The participants highlighted a number of specifics including adopting an open-door policy for parents and the importance of engaging parents and the significance of a family background where both parents are in employment.

A related concept that was raised by Mr Davies is that of parents in professional and high-income roles and the considerable advantages that this affords a pupil. Previous research has confirmed this (Ball, 2006; Weis & Dolby., 2012). According to Mr Davies:

If you’ve arrived from an affluent background, you can get your way your parents,             both maybe highly educated, so they’ll be able to help you in the first instance. But             even if they’re not able to help you, then they’ll be able to afford to get someone who         can help you, which makes a massive difference.

Similarly, Miss Smith, Miss Brown and Miss Palmer also comment on the way in which parents’ own social and educational backgrounds often prove to be instrumental in influencing the educational outcomes and academic engagement of their offspring.

Miss Smith: Education attainment is far greater if the parents have a good standard           of education. These parents tend to engage with their child’s education and provide             additional resources to support and encourage their child’s education. Whereas                   children with parents with poor education tend to be disengaged with learning as they         feel they are unable to enhance their learning and have little confidence in learning             and this reflects in the child’s abilities to engage in education. Nevertheless, some               participants felt that it also depends on how the parents themselves engage with               education, no matter the social class, they said:

Miss Palmer: A parent who works all time and a parent who doesn’t work at all can             have the same effect on a child’s education. I feel it all depends on parenting skills             and how a parent engages with education themselves

Miss Brown: I think it’s just basic things like if you grow up in a house where you               know one or two parents are working, those children are used to seeing somebody             get up for work in the morning they are used to seeing somebody get up and get               ready, they are used to seeing somebody have to wear a uniform. You know, go to             bed at a sensible time because you have got to get up in the morning for work. If a             parent is up for work themselves there’s a very good chance that they’re kind of                 getting up making breakfast for their children. They’ve got enough money to buy               uniform or the equipment, and they have that parental role model, so I think you’re           massively disadvantaged through school you know if you’re less well-off.

Often, teachers struggle to make a strong connection with parents and families from differing social and cultural backgrounds (Hughes., Gleason., & Zhang., 2005). However, data from this study seems to indicate that the teachers involved did not hold any bias. Moreover, it seems that they regarded the parent/teacher relationship as fundamental to the pupil’s educational development.

Mr John: If there are any issues that have occurred outside the school, nine out of 10         times, the parents will actually come in themselves, we tend to operate an open-door         policy. And what we have found is that developing good relationships with the parents         is paramount really. Because you need to work with them, obviously in partnership.

Miss Brown: I think we probably could do more with engaging parents. I think that             might be something that could be looked at, but again, that you know, it’s time and           money and relying on parents to want to be engaged as well. And I don’t know                   maybe with some parents if the will is actually there.

Both these comments confirm and illustrate the importance of parental involvement, and emphasises a contention held by many educators who believe that increased parental involvement can support and further encourage children’s academic experience. However, it also highlights the plight of those pupils whose parents have not really engaged in their child’s education.

4.4 Teachers perceptions of academic achievement

Historically, it has been argued that children from less privileged socio-economic backgrounds tend to underachieve in primary and secondary school (Andrews., Robinson., & Hutchinson., 2017; Department of Education., 2020). Developing this line of inquiring, this paper attempts to define and identify teachers’ subjective perceptions of just what it means to be a high or low achieving student and, consequently, to examine how class differences goes some way to explaining academic outcomes. Each participant in this study described a child who is high achieving as someone who consistently achieves high grades, but also the child that typically overachieves in terms of his/her own personal targets.

Miss Palmer: High achieving is when a child does work which is over the expected               level that they have been targeted for, either by age or abilities.  For example, a child         who is 5 their expected reading level is stage 2 but they are reading stage 4, they are         high achieving.

Miss Brown: So high achieving pupil in terms of progress is someone who is getting             very good grades, probably across the board. It’s not just like all they’re really good           at English, they always get an A, but everything else is like a D, they’re getting good           grades and everything. But you could also be high achieving if you’re achieving those         things, despite having like a lot of challenges in the way so for somebody that could           be high achieving getting a C, which maybe doesn’t look like a high achievement, but         if they’ve got a lot of circumstances and things to come get to get over to get that C           then for them that is like high achievement.

This is revealing, for it seems to suggest that teachers do not simply identify high achievers as those students who receive top grades, who have fewer obstacles with which to contend and who come from a more privileged background. In fact, it demonstrates that they take on board personal goals and circumstances. On the other hand, Miss Smith and Mr John identify a low achieving child thus:

Miss Smith: A low achieving child has low ability and there is a limit to their learning.         This type of child would not meet the expected outcomes of the age group.

Mr John: You often get children who are disengaged from the curriculum, who refuse           who will walk out of lessons, we’re seeing a lot more of this. Now. Some people say,           children are more aware of their rights nowadays and we are a rights resecting school         and our children know that their rights and responsibilities. If they don’t want to do             something, they will now turn around and say no or they will just walk out to the               lesson, and we’ve never had that before. So you do have children who are low                   achieving, who do manifest in those behaviours, and yet, you have some then who             are low achieving in terms of academic outcomes, who will try their utmost and put in         110% in the day to only get maybe 20% of the work done.

This change in focus is influenced, in part, by government policy and ESTYN, a point that emerges in the data drawn from the interviews with Mr John and Miss Brown:

Mr John: For the last 10-15 years, the Welsh Government have been very data                   driven, and what schools are being judged for performing at certain levels for certain         children. And there are sometimes that you’ve got children in your school that will               never reach level four at the end of Key Stage two or level five. And yet the progress         that they have made has been phenomenal. And yet, because they haven’t reached           that level, you are then classed as a failing school or whatever. But that has changed           recently now. And there’s been a much bigger focus on the progress of children,                 which is really nice.

Miss Brown: ESTYN have just come into us and they were less concerned with possibly        the high achieving pupils and what the A grades were, and they were very concerned          about what we’re doing for the welfare of the children at the lower end

This view of progress and academic achievement has already been seen to work in some schools previous (ESTYN., 2017; ESTYN., 2018).  It is evident that the teachers who participated in this study also felt that adopting this approach benefits students from all backgrounds and levels of academic achievement. Mr Davies made an important point when he identified certain inequalities in examinations and assessments. This is especially relevant to the experience of secondary education:

I think the biggest difference and then this problem is with it, not examination assessments, is it advantages the more affluent student because they can get a tutor to work with them on the controlled assessment. They can book three sessions a week, so that the child may draft work with them, have it marked them, we can’t mark their work, just give advice. And then they can redraft them and when they come in, they’ve learned a really good essay and they get a piece of work that may give them an advantage will tip them over into an A or into a C that the other student haven’t got to It’s not fair. Non examination assessments for assessment need to go because they are the advantages of the rich.

Mr Davies’ interview draws attention to these inequalities as they relate specifically to socially disadvantaged pupils in relation to academic achievement of students from a lower social class. Access to tutors, for instance, is a very middle-class privilege (Weis & Dolby., 2012) and can lead to a very unfair advantage for students from a more affluent background, creating and contributing to a culture of academic inequality (Heyneman., 2011). This including access to economic resources and culminates in the more sort after roles within higher education and the job market (Ball., 2006).

4.5 Conclusion

The purpose of this chapter has been to present the data and findings obtained from this study. It is evident, as has been shown, that teachers are acutely aware of their pupils’ social backgrounds.  Class difference remains a persistent and pervasive factor in the failure of these socially disadvantaged pupils to achieve their full potential within academic scenarios and more needs to be done to ensure students from a lower socioeconomic class can reach their full potential within their academic outcomes and experiences. The evidence suggests that a significant increase in funding is urgently needed if these pupils are to reach their full potential and take advantage of the academic opportunities made available.

Chapter five
Discussion and Conclusion

5.1 Discussion

This study set out to explore teachers’ perceptions of class difference and its’ influence on a child’s education. As expected, each of the participants involved in this study demonstrated an understanding and awareness of their pupils’ socio-economic background. It is hardly surprising that each of the teachers were able to relate examples of the way in which social class impacted on education, since the schools involved were each chosen because of their socially and economically diverse catchment areas. Previous studies have identified that social class as a key determining factors in education (Garcia., & Weiss.,21017). This, coupled with an increasing gap between the rich and poor and rich within our economy, makes it clear that there will be implications for children throughout their academic experience. Nevertheless, the teachers who were interviewed emphasised that good teaching and parental involvement and encouragement can often lead to higher pupil engagement across all social classes. Research has already shown that parents are, generally, the most significant influences within children’s’ lives and on their learned traits and behaviours (Green., Macintyre., West., & Ecob.,1991; Department for children, schools and families., 2008). As such, it can be argued that children with a strong support network can often outperform expectations. Another factor to emerge from the data gathered was the importance of positive teacher-student relationships. Having a positive role model is especially pertinent to young working-class males, as it can help counter their toxic view of education. (Ward, 2015) These findings offer critique to the works of Morris (2005) and Hughes, Gleason and Zhang (2005) who agree that teachers are likely to be less favourable to students from differing socio-economic and cultural backgrounds. In contrast the findings of this paper points to an awareness of social contexts that allows and, indeed, encourages teachers to adopt specific practices to positively support these children.

An additional point that was emerged from the data related to the availability of government funding that has enabled schools and teachers to offer additional support, free school meals and extra resources for children identified as being socially disadvantaged. The Welsh Government’s (2019) introduction and improvement of the Pupil Deprivation Grant has increased the spend per capita. Yet, despite these state interventions it is generally agreed amongst educators that these pupils continue to encounter deprivation and fall behind due to their lack of important social and developmental experiences (Weis & Dolby., 2012). It was the general consensus amongst the participants from this study that an urgent increase in funding was needed since the pupil deprivation grant had not been completely successful in combatting the inequalities that persist within education (Children, Young People and Education Committee., 2018)

As the findings of this study suggest, social class is still a persists with regards to educational outcomes and experiences.  This is specifically highlighted in terms of the debate around examinations and assessment. Significantly, all participants welcomed the recent change in focus, both within schools and from assessment boards such as ESTYN, that takes a broader, more holistic view of pupils’ achievements and takes into account  health, wellbeing and self-image This new approach has the  potential to prevent the extending gap between social classes in relation to these factors (DeAngelis., 2015).

5.2 Conclusion

This purpose of this study has been to examine teachers’ perceptions of social class within education. This includes their opinions and experiences of the way in which class difference influences children’s academic progress and explores viable options that might address this imbalance. It is evident from the findings of this study that a professional awareness of the varied social circumstances of their pupil’s backgrounds enables the participants to act positively to help students realise their potential.

It seems that social class is still a predominant factor of influence within children’s academic lives and experiences as students from more affluent backgrounds are able to experience more academic learning, even within their home. Parental social class and educational experience has a large part to play in this with regards to the trips in which families take and also their income as this influences access to additional educational learning, such as tutors. Teachers’ within the study felt that by combating the inequalities within assessment and impact that a tutor can provide for a more upper-class student, there will be space to ensure a more equal educational examination method which can provide equal opportunity for all. Schools could offer support for students from less affluent backgrounds by providing economic and cultural resources which they would not usually have access to. Many upper-class families utilise their economic and social resources (Ball., 2006; Garcia., & Weis., 2017) to ensure their child has a good education. Therefore, if schools have sufficient resources, they should provide these things for children whose access to these resources, such as tutors and laptops, would normally be limited. This would create a level of equality throughout education.

Both previous research and my own have identified that white working-class males are often the most disengaged within education, this could be due to their behaviour or their view of education and the ‘need’ for it. It is however apparent from my findings that teachers feel that creating a stable pupil-teacher and parent-teacher relationship has a positive influence on a child’s educational outcomes and experiences, as they feel more comfortable and willing to learn when the teacher provides an open and safe space.

Throughout this research, there have been a number of limitations which have occurred. The study involved just a small sample group and therefore it is important not to generalise the findings. However, whilst my research did not intend to gather findings that could be generalised, nevertheless, it still provides important insights into teachers views on the role of social class in children’s lives, and these views may be common to many other teachers and they are highly important given what we have learned from this. An additional limitation was that some teachers might not have felt comfortable consorting on such a private matter such as social class and so, next time I would use a mixed methods approach and incorporate questionnaires as well as face to face interviews to ensure the participant is comfortable. The area in which I chose to base my research is very broad as social class and background can be impacted by so many factors. I feel that future research would benefit from exploring key areas, perhaps specific year groups, on a bigger scale to provide data that could be generalised and use by the government and officials.

Social class is an issue which affects many children and their academic outcomes and experiences, and I feel that this study has identified a number of suggestions for the government to take on board in order to introduce policies to create an equal educational experience for all. The first suggestion would be that more funding needs to be distributed in order to enable the pupil deprivation grant to reach its full potential. This would insure productive professional development for teachers, ensuring they are trained to aid students from deprived backgrounds to the best of their abilities, and also ensure that every family in need of financial aid can be helped. The second suggestion in which I feel can be taken from this study to influence future governing decisions and policies, is that student achievement should be evaluated on a case by case basis. Organisations such as ESTYN have begun to adopt the view that children who do not achieve ‘top grades’ need more attention and that their progress should be celebrated. However, I feel this should be a policy implemented by the government to ensure each child is celebrated and given the opportunity to flourish within education. An additional suggestion I would make to the government would be that there needs to be a continual increase of teachers’ awareness of the impact of socioeconomic background on children’s engagement with education and their academic outcomes, as well as who within their class comes from a more deprived background.

Despite the findings of this study offering suggestions and awareness of social class within education, there is a gap within the literature as there is limited research specifically looking at teachers’ perceptions of social class. This information can be used to influence governing policies, just like teachers’ views were taken on board to develop the new curriculum. The findings of this study have succeeded in answering the research question on how teachers feel social class affects children/young people’s academic outcomes and experience. It can be taken from the data that teachers feel social class has become a large focus within their institutions, an improvement since they first began teaching, and this has enabled teachers and students alike to perform to the best of their abilities. The participants in this study all agreed that social class has an influence on children’s academic outcomes and experiences, however, they proposed that this can be managed by adopting an openness between teachers, parents and society.

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Appendix A
Interview questions

How long have you been teaching?
What years do you teach within school?
I’m interested in finding out about the social backgrounds of the children you teach. Please
can you
tell me about the children you teach in terms of their social backgrounds (without
identifying
individual children, in general terms, what is the social profile of your class like)?
Prompt
– Would you say you have children from a range of social backgrounds in your class?
– Are you aware of their social/family backgrounds?
– How do you become aware of this?
How do you feel that children’s social or cultural background effects their learning or
achievement in school?
When you think of the term ‘high achieving’, how would you describe a child who is high
achieving?
How would you describe a child who is ‘low achieving’?
Do you think that children from different social class backgrounds engage with education
differently?
How do you think that children from different social class backgrounds can be better
supported in education?
In your opinion, do you feel that the level of support available for children from differing
social or cultural backgrounds have changed throughout your time teaching?
– Prompt – is this good or bad
Prompt- is there anything specifically that you think could support students (i.e. resources,
extra support etc).

Appendix B
Consent Form

Consent form – Please provide a signature next to the statements below. 

Please tick 
1.      I confirm that I have read and understood the information sheet for the study.            
2.                  I understand that my participation is voluntary and that I am free to withdraw at any time, without giving any reasons.
3.                  I am happy for the information I provide to be used (anonymously) in academic papers.
4.                  I am willing for the interview to be audio recorded.
5.                  I agree to taking part in this study 
6.          I agree to the researchers processing my personal data in accordance with the aims of the study described in the Participant Information Sheet.

 

Participant signature………………………………………………………………………………………………………

Date……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

 

Appendix C

Exploring Teachers views on social class within Education

Information sheet for participants

 

Who am I and what is the purpose of my study?   

My name is Danielle Joyce and I am a student at Swansea University, studying Education.

My research aims to understand, from a teacher’s point of view, the role of social class in young people’s academic achievement and experiences in school. I feel it is important that we, as educators, understand the impact social class has within young students’ everyday lives and how inclusion can be ensured for all within education.

Why have I been invited to take part in the study? 

You have been invited to partake in my study as I am extremely interested in teachers’ points of view on this subject. As a teacher, your experiences of working with young people of all ages and backgrounds within different settings will be invaluable to my project. I hope that by talking with you I will be able to gain a greater understanding of issues relating to the role of social class and socio-economic disadvantages in young people’s school experiences.

What will participation in the study involve? 

If you agree to take part, you will be invited to take part in a one to one interview with myself. The interview will last around thirty minutes and you will be asked about your views on topics relating to the role of social class and socio-economic disadvantage in young people’s educational experiences and inclusion in education.  You will also have an opportunity to add any information you feel is relevant. I will record the interview using a digital voice recorder and I will make some additional handwritten notes during the interviews.

Do I have to take part? 

No, participation in this study is entirely voluntary. If you change your mind throughout the study you can also decide to withdraw at any point, without supplying a reason.

What will happen to the interview recording? 

The recording of the interview will be transcribed by myself. All electronic data will be stored on a password-protected computer file located on a personal laptop. The audio recordings on the device will then be deleted and your personal information will be kept separately from the recordings. The data will be stored up until June 2020 and deleted after this date. Your data will only be viewed by myself and my supervisor.

Will the focus group discussion be anonymised? 

Yes, I will make every effort to ensure that any identifiable information about you, or information you provide during the interview is anonymised and kept confidential meaning that it cannot be traced back to you. Your name and any names mentioned during the focus group (for example, names of students/pupils, staff at the school) will be anonymised. Your consent information will be kept separately from your responses in order to minimise risk in the event of a data breach. This means that if I discuss my research, I will ensure that you cannot be identified.

What will the information be used for?

The information provided in the interviews will be used for my Education (BaHons) dissertation and for any researchers who are also interested in this topic. Therefore, the information provided (which will be anonymised) could be discussed with people who are interested in this.

Are there any risks associated with taking part?

The research has been approved by the College of Arts and Humanities Research Ethics Committee. There are no significant risks associated with participation.

Data Protection and Confidentiality

Your data will be processed in accordance with the Data Protection Act 2018 and the General Data Protection Regulation 2016 (GDPR). All information collected about you will be kept strictly confidential.

Please note that the data I will collect for my study will be made anonymous as soon as the data is transcribed, thus it will not be possible to identify and remove your data at a later date, should you decide to withdraw from the study. Therefore, if at the end of the interview, if you decide to have your data withdrawn, you must let me know before you leave

Additional information:

The data controller for this project will be Swansea University. The University Data Protection Officer provides oversight of university activities involving the processing of personal data, and can be contacted at the Vice Chancellors Office: dataprotection@swanseauniversity.com.ac.uk.

Your data will be processed in accordance with the Data Protection Act 2018 and the General Data Protection Regulation 2016 (GDPR).

Who can I contact for more information about the study? 

If you would like to find out more information about my study before taking part please feel free to contact me (Danielle Joyce) by emailing daniellejoyce2@icloud,com.  I’m really happy to answer any questions you might have about the project. Participants can also contact my supervisor, Ceryn Evans at Ceryn.Evans@swansea.ac.uk.

Appendix D

Research Diary

 

 

 

 

Note from www.wales.press – The above dissertation is from Danielle Joyce who has kindly agreed that we can republish her work on our network of websites. Whilst most articles on our network are licenced under Creative Commons (meaning that you can republish on your own platform), this article remains the property of Danielle Joyce. If you would like to republish or for any other information, please contact Danielle directly via email: daniellejoyce2@icloud.com