A-level Sociology of Education Key Word List from Specification
the role of education
functions of the education system,
differential educational achievement
the hidden curriculum
the organisation of teaching and learning
policies of selection,
policies to achieve greater equality of opportunity
experience of education
access to education globalisation
Make your own exam questions!
All you need to do to design your own questions is cut and past this list into this random word generator, click ‘create random anything’ and then you’ve got the basis for some 10 mark and 30 mark questions.
You have to be a bit creative to make up the questions, by adding in your own action words, but the question formats are quite limited in variety: 10 mark analyse questions ask for ‘two ways/ reasons’ and a 30 mark will ask to evaluate the extent to which something is true, so making up your own questions should be fairly easy to do.
Pupil Identities and the Functions of the Education system example
Analyse two ways in which pupil identities might come into conflict with the functions of the education system (10)
Evaluate sociological perspectives on the relationship between the functions of the education system and pupil identities (30)
I’m not even sure if the above questions make sense, so answering them might be a challenge – maybe something about social control and hyper-masculinity and work related functions and class based identities.
NB both of the links above take you to two examples of 6 mark ‘outline’ questions I put together a while back, so they’ll give you some idea of how you might start to build up an answer to the more complex 10 and 30 mark questions.
Other random sociology word combinations I got:
policies of selection and pupil identities
social class and globalisation
marketisation policies and the hidden curriculum
policies of selection and the economy
the experience of education and the hidden curriculum
gender and the economy
Have a go, and post your questions below!
Remember that the AQA bots can’t distinguish between a sensible and terrible question so it’s best to be prepared for all potentialities – so why not have a go and generate some random questions, and have a think about the answers.
What else have you got to do after all, no Glastonbury, no Reading, and certainly no Gap Yah!
Keep in mind that this technique doesn’t provide you with an item, which you would need to use in both the 10 mark and the 30 mark questions in the actual exam.
Paul Willis: Learning to Labour – found that the traditional working class male identity came into direct conflict with the norms of the school – for the ‘lads’ he studied being male for them meant being cool, and not caring about school work. For them ‘real boys didn’t try hard at school’ and they were more interested in dossing around.
Louise Archer –found that girls that didn’t conform to traditional gender identities (passive and submissive) came into conflict with the school. For most of the girls, constructing and performing a heterosexual, sexy feminine image was the most important thing to them. Each of the girls spent considerable money and time on their appearance, trying to look sexy and feminine which gave the girls a sense of power and status. The peer group policed this.
Mac an Ghail argued that the African Caribbean community experienced the world in very different ways to white people – namely because of institutional racism in the college and he argued that any anti-school attitudes were reactions against this racism. He mainly blamed the school rather than the students
For anyone signing up in the next week (before May 10th, I’ll also throw in access to eight pre-recorded revision Webinars covering the entire A-level sociology syllabus, available at this blog post (password protected: if you sign up for the three Webinars, I’ll email you the password!). NB six are currently available, 2 to be uploaded next week!
I will be running three A-level sociology revision webinars to cover both the core content and exam technique for the three A-level sociology exam papers: Education with Theory and Methods (paper 7192/1), Topics, focussing on the families and beliefs options (paper 7192/2), and Crime and Deviance with Theory and Methods (7192/3).
The webinars are 90 minutes long and scheduled for the following dates, on the Sundays before the relevant exams:
11.00 A.M. Sunday 19th May – Education with Theory and Method
11.00 A.M. Sunday 2nd June – Families and Belief
11.00 A.M. Sunday 9th June – Crime and Deviance with Theory and Methods
All of these webinars will last 90 minutes during which I will provide a (necessarily) brief overview of the content within each topic, and a discussion of several specific exam practice questions. The main focus will be on exam technique.
Students will be able to ask questions during the Webinar, via text, and there will also be time for students to ask questions at the end.
Attendees will be able to download support materials in advance of the webinars, ask questions during the seminars via ‘chat’, and students will also be able to review the seminar afterwards as they will be recorded and stored on the site. Recordings will be available until the 16th of June (several days after the final A-level sociology exam).
The one off £29.99 registration fee not only gives you access to all of the Webinars scheduled below, the price also includes downloadable hand-outs with exemplar question and answers for all of the question types on the three exam papers. The documents included in this bundle include:
Exemplars of 4,6,10 and 30 mark essay questions for Education.
A hand-out on how to answer methods in context questions, with examples.
Exemplars of the two types of 10 mark questions and 20 mark essay questions for families and beliefs
Exemplars of 4,6,10 and 30 mark essay questions for Crime and Deviance.
Exemplars of 10 mark research methods questions
Exemplars of 20 mark ‘theory and methods’ questions.
NB – if you are already enrolled on my more extensive 12 week revision webinar series, you don’t need to sign up for this, we cover everything in these three webinars in the 12 webinar series, just in more detail.
For further details of my resources and work please see my blog – revisesociology.com
These six core themes cut across every compulsory topic and every optional topic (usually families and beliefs), and they can form the basis of any 10 mark or any essay question. Students should not be at all surprised if they see any of the words cropping up in one of the 30 mark essay questions.
NB – these themes should look familiar, as they are basically some of the core concerns of the perspectives: Functionalism and postmodernism tend to focus on the top three, Marxism and Feminism the bottom three, with interactionism sitting somewhere in between them.
Where 10 mark questions are concerned, I recommend trying to use these two sets of core themes to develop points you find in the item – ‘one way’ focussing on a Functionalist/ postmodern analysis, the other focusing on developing a marxist/ feminist/ postmodern analysis. To my mind, it’s easy to develop Postmodernism from Functionalism and Labelling theory from Marxism/ Feminism.
Where essays are concerned, the 4 boxes above might be used as a suitable structure for four paragraphs, again, in relation to the item.
Quite a useful revision task is to place different questions in the middle of the above slide and just talk through how you might relate the different core themes/ perspectives/ concepts to the question.
In future posts this month I’ll outline how I use this analysis structure in mainly 10 mark questions!
Get ahead with your A-level sociology revision with these cheap online webinars covering the entire A-level sociology specification over a 12 week period.
Please note these have been cancelled due to Coronavirus!
But I will be running the same series in 2021, from March!
A Level Sociology Revision Webinars starting March 2020
The webinars are scheduled for 19.00 every Monday (with one on a Thursday) and will run from Monday 1st of April to Monday 20th June, 2 days before the last exam (crime and deviance with theory and methods). Webinars are scheduled early so that we can get through the entire specification BEFORE the first paper (on May 20th).
NB Registration will only be open during March and the first two weeks of April, then it will close!
Schedule (please see below for a more detailed version)
Thursday 26th March – Education 1
Thursday 2nd April – Education 2
Thursday 9th April – Families and Households 1
Thursday 16th April – Beliefs in Society
Thursday 3rd April – Crime and Deviance 1
Thursday 30th April – Crime and Deviance 2
Thursday 7th May – Research Methods
Thursday 14th May – Social Theories
Saturday 16th May – Education and Theory and Methods 3 (exam on 20th May )
Monday 25th May – Request webinar, content TBC
Monday 3rd June – Families and Beliefs 2 (exam on 2nd June)
Monday 10th June – Crime and Deviance with Theory and Methods 3 (Exam on 10th June).
All of these webinars will last 50 minutes during which I will provide a brief overview of some of the content within each topic, and a discussion of at least three specific exam practice questions. Students will be able to ask questions during the Webinar, via text, and there will also be time for students to ask questions at the end.
I will be conducting the Webinars via Click Meeting, which allows students to download support materials in advance of the seminars, ask questions during the seminars via ‘chat’, and which will also allow students to review the seminar afterwards as they will be recorded and stored on the site. Recordings will be available until the 16th of June (several days after the final A-level sociology exam).
Sample of Webinar 1 from 2019
Webinar Support materials
The first eight revision Webinars are supported by a PowerPoint, revision notes and exemplar exam questions, and the education, families and methods topics (basically the first year content) have gapped revision hand-outs too, so these really are being offered at a bargain price!
Access to all 12 Webinars is only £49.99, which is less than £5 a Webinar.
The link will take you to a registration page for my ‘Permanent Room’ on the ClickMeeting platform. This is the room from which I will be running all revision Webinars from, every Thursday from March 26th, switching to Mondays before the exam, and one on a Saturday.
Once registered you will receive an email from ClickMeeting which will provide you with an access link which will allow you access my permanent room for March-June 2019. (NB I will only be using this at the scheduled times, as outlined in the schedule.)
Following registration I will also send you an email containing all the relevant revision resources for the 12 Webinars. These will also be downloadable during and immediately after each revision session.
Reminder emails will be sent out the day in advance of each of the 12 Webinar Revision Sessions, and also watch out for a bonus ‘introducing revision Webinars’ session on the final Monday in March, to give you an opportunity to familiarise yourself with how ClickMeeting works.
Payment is via PayPal only!
About your Tutor
I’ve taught sociology for 20 years, 16 of those in a successful sixth form college between 2002 and 2018 (10 years as Head of Department).
In 2014 I set up this blog, and managed to save enough off the back of it to quit working for the ‘man’ and now I work independently, developing non-corporate support materials to facilitate the teaching and learning of A-level sociology.
I also see myself as something of a trail-blazer in developing 16-19 online education: in 2019, we should be doing better than 20 teenagers all having to travel to a central location and then ‘sitting in a room’ for an hour or two. To my mind this all seems a bit 19th century. These Webinars are a move towards making A-level education more flexible and decentralised.
Here’s a print version of the stats in case the above isn’t that legible! (If it’s not, I might try and sort it out laters!).
What’s particularly encouraging about this is that this in the context of declining numbers of 17-18 year olds in the corresponding birth years stretching from 1996-2000, and the corresponding decrease in overall A-level entries.
It’s also interesting to note that more traditional subjects such as History and English are losing out to ‘newer’ more critical subjects such as Sociology. Psychology also saw a similar trend.
Examples of actual student responses marked by the AQA, showing you the standards expected to get certain marks!
Below is an example of an actual marked response to a 10 mark ‘analyse with the item question’.
The example is taken from the 2017 Education with Theory and Methods Paper (paper and mark schemes available from the AQA website) and the specific question is as follows:
Read Item A below and answer the question that follows.
Since the 1980s, a major aim of government policy has been to increase parental choice in education. There is now a wider range of school types, and league tables on school performance are also publicly available.
Increased parental choice has had many effects on pupils’ experience of education.
Applying material from Item A, analyse two effects of increased parental choice on pupils’ experience of education (10)
While this example is taken from a 10 mark ‘applying material from the item’ question taken from the education paper, the general advice below on how to answer such questions applies equally to the same format of 10 mark questions that you will get in both sections A and B of paper 2, and on paper 3.
Marked exemplar of a 10 mark ‘applying from the item’ question
NB the second picture is a continuation of the first, same response on both pictures!
A great example in the first paragraph of ‘how not to do it’….
Despite the rather scathing final commentary from the examiners, the second paragraph still gest five marks, and it does make three development points – so it’s got breadth rather than depth.
Hint: go deeper, develop further!
If you can’t be bothered to think of how you might improve it for yourself, click here for an example of a 9/10 answer, but if the first bit of this sentence applies to you, I don’t rate yer chances of ever getting more than middle mark band!
Question: What would you do to get another 5 marks….Comments below please!
mind maps in pdf and png format – 9 in total, covering various topics within the sociology of education
short answer exam practice questions and exemplar answers
how to write sociology essays, including 7 specific templates and model answers on the sociology of education
Feedback on the Examinations
Student responses and commentaries: Paper 1 7192/1 Education with Theory and Methods
Published: Autumn 2017
NB – this document is NOT available on the AQA website, but any teacher should have access to it via eaqa. I’m sharing it here in order to make the exam standards more accessible, and to support the AQA in their equality and meritocratic agendas, because there will be some poor students somewhere whose teachers aren’t organised enough to access this material for them.
‘Methods in Context’ questions appear on A Level Sociology Paper 1 (Education with Theory and Methods) and AS Sociology Paper 1 (Education with Methods in Context).
Methods in Context questions will ask students to evaluate the strengths and limitations of any of the six main research methods for researching a particular topic within the sociology of education, applying material from the item.
Students often struggle with these questions and so it is useful to have exemplars which demonstrate how to answer them. Thankfully the AQA has recently released some of these, with examiner commentary, and below I’ve reproduced a top band 18/20 answer to one particular methods in context question!
NB – I’ve take this directly from the AQA’s feedback to the 2017 AS sociology exam series (specific source below), but I’ve repositioned the comments on each paragraph to make them more accessible (at the end of each paragraph, rather than at the end of the whole essay.
The specific question below appeared on the June 2017 AS Sociology Paper 1 – the whole paper is now publically available from the AQA’s web site.
Read Item B below and answer the question that follows.
On average, working-class pupils underachieve in education compared with those from middle-class backgrounds. Some sociologists believe that material deprivation is one factor that causes working-class underachievement. Other sociologists argue that values and attitudes in working-class homes may cause underachievement. School factors may also affect achievement.
Sociologists may use written questionnaires to study working-class educational underachievement. Using written questionnaires enables the researcher to reach a large number of pupils, parents and teachers. Also, those who complete the questionnaire can usually remain anonymous. However, not all those who receive a questionnaire will complete it.
Applying material from Item B and your knowledge of research methods, evaluate the strengths and limitations of using written questionnaires to investigate working-class educational underachievement.
The Mark Scheme (Top Band Only: 17-20)
Answers in this band will show accurate, conceptually detailed knowledge and good understanding of a range of relevant material on written questionnaires.
Appropriate material will be applied accurately to the investigation of the specific issue of working-class educational underachievement.
Students will apply knowledge of a range of relevant strengths and limitations of using written questionnaires to research issues and characteristics relating to working-class educational underachievement. These may include some of the following and/or other relevant concerns, though answers do not need to include all of these, even for full marks:
the research characteristics of potential research subjects, eg pupils, teachers, parents, (self-esteem; literacy skills; attitude to school)
the research contexts and settings (eg school; classroom; home environment).
the sensitivity of researching working-class underachievement (eg schools’ market position; negative publicity; vulnerability of participants; parental consent; teacher reluctance).
Evaluation of the usefulness of written questionnaires will be explicit and relevant. Analysis will show clear explanation and may draw appropriate conclusions
Student Answer – Awarded 18/20 (AS standard!)
Paragraphs as in actual student response, numbers added for clarity.
Examiner comments appear in red after each paragraph.
ONE – Written questionnaires are a type of survey where questions are standardised and distributed to large numbers of people. This is useful in an educational setting because it means they can be given to numerous students in numerous schools, something which is very important when investigating working class pupils as there are many regions which are predominantly working class.
First paragraph – general advantages of written questionnaires – standardised and large distribution. Attempt to link to topic
TWO – One major advantage of using questionnaires is that they pose relatively few practical issues. They are fairly cheap to create and distribute and they quick to fill out, especially if all questions are closed ended. This means that access is not usually an issue for the researcher as they will not disrupt lessons as much as other methods such as structured interviews, meaning that the researcher is more likely to received permission from the gatekeeper. Furhtermore, working class pupils are more likely to need to take on paid work and so the quick-nature of questinnaires which are not very time consuming means that they are useful for investigating working class underachievement.
Para 2 – advantage of Wc related to context of research in schools (gatekeepers).
THREE – However, when investigating working class pupils there may be the issue of cultural deprivation, particularly language issues. Berciler and Englemann argue that the language spoken by the working class is deficient, a particular issue when trying to interpret the questions on a written question questionnaire. When coupled with the fact that questionnaires are written in the elaborated code but working class pupils (and parents) tend to speak in the restricted code this can be a major problem in gaining accurate results; unlike with other methods, questions cannot be clarified
Para 3 – good link to topic and WQ re language and speech codes.
FOUR – As well as posing few practical issues, written questionnaires do not pose many ethical issues. This is because the respondent can remain anonymous if they so wish and they can also leave any intrusive or sensitive issues blank. When studying working class underachievement this is a particular advantage because some pupils may be embarrassed to discuss their home lives, particularly if they live in poverty.
Para 4 – ethical issues discussed – anonymity developed with reference to topic
FIVE –Even though there are relatively few ethical uses, the researcher must be aware of harm to respondents. For working class children there may be a stigma attached, and for sensitive issues such as home life, the use of questionnaires can still cause distress. Nevertheless, the fact that respondents are not obligated to respond means this ethical problem is easily overcome.
Para 5 – further developed with reference to topic
SIX – From the perspective of a positivist, written questionnaires are a useful way to investigate working class underachievement because the data produced when using standardised questions is quantitative and high in reliability. This makes questionnaires useful for investigating working class underachievement because it allows cause and effect relationships to be established, for example whether or the not the structure of the education system reproduces working class underachievement, or whether there is a correlation between family background and achievement. However, the nature of written questionnaires can be an issue if the researcher’s meaning is imposed onto the questionnaire so it is another fact that must be taken into account
Para 6 – various positivist concepts – good on usefulness of WC – but not unique to topic
SEVEN – From the point of view of an interpretivist, written questionnaires are not useful when investigating working class underachievement because the data lacks validity. While questionnaires may be able to identify that factors such as material deprivation may influence the achievement of working class pupils, it does not get to the heart of the matter. Written questionnaires do not investigate the meanings that pupils may attach to the reasons they may underachieve, and do not let the respondent communicate their ideas freely. Because of this lack of validity interpretivists do not favour the use of written questionnaires to investigate working class underachievement.
Para 7 – interpretivism and validity – not related to topic specifically (generic)
EIGHT – Ultimately, written questionnaires can be useful to investigate working class underachievement because the data is easy to analyse and compare, which may be useful as the data could be used over time to look at whether government policies put in place to reduce working class underachievement really work. Not only that but they are representative, so generalisations about the wider population can be made in a way that methods favoured by interpretivists cannot.
Para 8 – attempt to relate strengths of WQs to topic
Overall COMMENT – very strong on method with some (2/3) clear links to topic
Theory and Methods A Level Sociology Revision Bundle
If you like this sort of thing, then you might like my Theory and Methods Revision Bundle – specifically designed to get students through the theory and methods sections of A level sociology papers 1 and 3.
74 pages of revision notes
15 mind maps on various topics within theory and methods
Five theory and methods essays
‘How to write methods in context essays’.T
Paper 1 Education with Methods in Context
Tuesday 16 May 2017
7191/1 Education with Methods in Context
Final Mark scheme
Feedback on the exam(s)
Student responses and commentaries: Paper 1 Education with Methods in Context
Published: Autumn 2017
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