Explain what is meant by the ideal pupil

In classrooms, many teachers labelled and classified certain students to their ethical and academic backgrounds. Becker concluded the common image of the ‘ideal pupil’ as being intelligent, well behaved, motivated and usually from a middle class background. Suggest three reasons why students from the upper social classes and those who have attended independent schools are more likely to gain places at elite universities such as LSE and Oxbridge even when they have the same A levels as students from state schools

One of the main reasons is cultural capital which is used by Marxists to explain cultural influences on educational influences. Bourdieu and Passeron (1977) suggested that middle class culture is as valuable in educational terms as material wealth. Schools are run by middle class and therefore they will support middle class students whose form of knowledge, values and ways of interacting and communicating are practiced and taught by their parents.

Working class students and ethnic minorities however are likely to lack qualities such as playing an instrument and being in a band or an orchestra or be able to express themselves through the language that middle class students use. This therefore decreases their chances of success. Middle class students also don’t suffer from material deprivation which means they are able to learn to play many instruments and join many extra-curricular activities which will look better on their applications whereas working class students may not be able to afford all these extra advantages.

Further supporting the idea of working class and middle class differences in educational attainment, Ball et al (1994) showed another reason for why upper class students performed better than working class through his studies which showed how middle class parents were able to play the system by using their cultural capital and thus ensure their children are accepted into the best schools and throughout their studying their parents will continue to use their advantages such as interview and speaking and language skills to ensure their children are in the best classes with the best tutors and therefore will perform better overall than a working class student whose parents don’t have these advantages therefore the students must stay in wherever they are placed and work harder to achieve. West and Hind (2003) found that interviews were also often used to exclude working class and ethnic minority families or make the process more difficult for them whereas middle class families had the cultural capital to negotiate and make their interview successful. Another reason which supports this theory of difference in educational attainment between middle and working class is Social Capital which