Links to posts on the sociology of education for A Level Sociology, including perspectives on education (Functionalism, Marxism etc.), explanations for differential educational achievement (class, gender, ethnicity), in-school processes (labelling etc.) and the impact of social policies such as the 1988 Education Reform Act. 


Education brief



A level sociology scheme of work

Sociology A-level scheme of work AQA education

An Introduction to the Sociology of Education

Education and schools in the United Kingdom – Key Statistics an overview of some of the most basic statistics on the UK education system, including the number of schools, school types, pupils and teachers, along with some comments on the validity of such statistics.

Education in America – an overview of key facts and stats of the American education system.

Education with Theory and Methods – A Level Sociology Paper 1 – an overview of the first of the three exam papers within A level sociology (AQA focus)

Education Key Concepts – brief definitions of key concepts relevant to the A-level sociology of education module.

The role and functions of education, including its relation to the economy and to class structure

Perspectives on the Role of Education – Knowledge Check Lista simple check list for this sub-topic, covering the five main perspectives you need to know (Functionalism, Marxism, The New Right, Feminism and Post/ Late Modernism), the key concepts and some selected short answer and essay questions

The Functionalist perspective on education – brief revision notes covering four key ideas of Functionalism on education: how school encourages social solidarity, teaching skills for work, school as a bridge between home and wider society and role allocation and meritocracy. 

Emile Durkheim’s view on the role of education in societyclass notes which take a more in-depth look at Durkheim’s view on the role of education in society. Including his views on education and the transmission of share values, education and social roles, and the role education played in the Division of Labour in society. 

Talcott Parson’s perspective on educationclass notes which take a more in-depth look at Parson’s views of the role of education in society. 

Evaluating the Functionalist view of the role of education in contemporary societydetailed evaluative post exploring a range of contemporary evidence which either supports or criticises the Functionalist view of education.

The Marxist perspective on education – brief revision notes covering four key ideas of the Marxist perspective on education: school as part of the ideological state apparatus, the correspondence theory, and the reproduction and legitimation of class inequality. Also includes a section on Paul Willis’ neo-Marxist study ‘learning to labour’. 

Bowles and Gintis – The Correspondence Principle detailed class notes on this classic piece of Marxist theory on education from Bowles and Gintis’ classic (1976) work ‘Schooling in Capitalist America’.

Evaluating the Marxist perspective on educationmedium length evaluative post focusing on a range of contemporary evidence which either supports or criticises the Marxist view of education.

The New Right perspective on education – brief revision notes covering the key ideas of the New Right, key New Right Policies and some evaluations. NB should be read in conjunction with the 1988 Education reform Act post. This just covers the theory. 

Evaluating the New Right’s perspective on education – a medium length post which looks at the long term trend in GCSE results, PISA international league tables, Stephen Ball’s work and Sue Palmer’s concept of toxic childhood to evaluate the impact (positive and negative) of marketisation policies on pupils in England and Wales.

Postmodernism and educationa medium length post outlining some of the ways in which education seems to have responded to the shift to postmodern society, by becoming more individualised and diverse, for example. 

Sociological perspectives on the relationship between education and work a brief summary post covering the Functionalist, Marxist, Feminist, New Right and Postmodern perspectives on education and work. 

Functionalist, Marxist and The New Right Views of Education  – summary vodcast comparing the three perspectives

Sociological Perspectives on the Role of Education in Society – Summary Grid summary revision grid covering Functionalism, Marxism, The New Right, and Post and Late Modern perspectives on education

Explanations of Differential Educational Achievement of Social Groups

Sociological Explanations of Educational Underachievementclass notes, and an introduction to the sub-topic 

Social class and educational achievement

The effects of material deprivation on education – revision notes 

The effects of cultural deprivation on education – revision notes

The effects of cultural and social capital on education – revision notes

Cultural Capital and Education – class notes 

Social Class and In school factors and differential educational achievement – revision notes 

To what extent do home factors explain social class differences in educational achievement? essay plan

Gender and educational achievement

What is the gender gap in education? – an introductory post outlining the extent of gender gap in education, focusing on GCSE and A-level exam results and degree entries by gender. 

Explaining the Gender Gap in Education – External Factors – revision notes 

Evaluating the role of External Factors in Explaining the Gender Gap in Education – revision notes 

Explaining the Gender Gap in Education – In School Factors – revision notes

Gender and subject choice

Gender and identity – revision notes

Ethnicity and differential educational achievement

Material Deprivation and Ethnicity – revision notes 

Cultural factors and ethnicity – revision notes 

In school factors and institutional racism – revision notes

The relative importance of gender/ class and ethnicity in differential educational achievement

White Working Class Underachievement summary of a thinking allowed podcast

Relationships and Processes Within Schools

Teacher labelling and the self fulfilling prophecydetailed class notes covering the definitions of labeling and the self fulfilling prophecy, summaries of David Hargreave’s work on typing, Rosenthal and Jacobson’s classic field experiment, and C. Rist’s study of an American Kindergarten which focused on the relationship between social class and labelling, Also includes some evaluations of the labelling theory applied to education. 

Pupil subculturesdetailed class notes on pupil subcultures in school, covering pro and anti-school cultures and Peter Wood’s work on the range of subcultures in-between these extremes – such as retreatist subcultures. 

School Ethos and The Hidden Curriculum – brief revision notes focusing on how the ethos (basic values) of a school and the hidden (or informal rules) of a school advantage some students and disadvantage others. 

The Significance of Educational Policies for an Understanding of the Structure, Role, Impact and Experience of, and Access to Education in British Society

This section includes links relating to policies of selection, marketisation and privatisation; policies to achieve greater equality of opportunity or outcome, and the impact of globalisation on educational policy.

Education Policies in the UK – a very brief overview of the Tripartite System, Comprehensives, the 1988 Education Act and New Labour’s and the Coalition government’s policies of 1997 and 2010.

Social democratic perspectives on education – social democrats emphasize the important role which education can play in promoting equality of opportunity. Social democratic views lead to comprehensivisation 

The 1988 Education Reform Act – detailed class notes covering all of the specific policies introduced to implement the marketisation of education – namely GCSEs, league tables, formula funding, OFSTED and the national curriculum.

New Labour’s Education Policies (1997-2010)detailed class notes covering the  introduction of Academies, Sure Start, Education Action Zones. This post also analyses the impact of New Right or Neoliberal and Social Democratic ideas on Labour’s education policies. 

New Labour’s Education Policies – summary revision notes

2010–2015 – The Coalition Government’s education policiesdetailed class notes covering funding cuts to education, further acadamization and the pupil premium, among other things. 

2010-2015 – The Coalition Government’s Education policiessummary revision notes of the above topic.

Free Schools – Arguments For and Against – class notes

The Privatisation of Education – class notes

Selective Education Since Comprehensivisation – revision notes

Arguments for and Against Reintroducing Grammar Schools class notes

Assess Sociological Perspectives on Vocational Education essay plan

Joel Spring – Education Networks – Power, Wealth, Cyberspace and the Digital Mind – book summary

Essay Plans/ Revision Resources

Mega Bundle CoverIf you like this sort of thing, then you might like my A level sociology revision mega bundle – which contains the following:

  1. over 200 pages of revision notes
  2. 60 mind maps in pdf and png formats
  3. 50 short answer exam practice questions and exemplar answers
  4. Covers the entire A-level sociology syllabus, AQA focus.

Assessment Material

This section includes links to exam technique, and model answers for essays, the two types of 10 mark questions and the short answer questions you’ll find in the education section of the AQA’s A-level sociology paper 7192-1

How I would have answered the June 2018 sociology A-level paper 1covering the 4, 6, 10 and 30 mark questions on the education section of this paper. The post also covers the 2 theory and methods questions. 

How I would have answered the June 2017 Sociology A-level paper 1 – covering the education and theory and methods sections of the paper

Analyse two reasons why women remain economically disadvantaged compared to men despite the increase in the gender gap in educational achievement (10)

Possible 10 mark ‘analyse’ questions which you might get on paper one

Evaluate the Functionalist view of the role of education in society – essay plan, long version

Evaluate the Functionalist view of the role of education in society – essay plan, brief version

Evaluate the view that differences in educational achievement by class, gender and ethnicity are the result of in-school processesessay plan, long, bullet pointed


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