Applying material from Item A, analyse two effects of increased parental choice on pupils’ experience of education.

How to get full marks for a 10 mark ‘item’ question in sociology A-level.

Below is an example of an abbreviated (by me) marked response to a 10 mark ‘analyse with the item question’ which achieved a top band-mark, or 9/10.

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:

The Question with Item 

A-level-sociology-10-mark-question-parental-choice

The Mark Scheme (top band only)

A-level-sociology-10-mark-scheme-top-band

Student Response:

Item A states that ‘there is now a wider range of school factors’ which leads to the introduction of academies and free schools. This increases parental choice as parents can choose to send their children to this wider range of schools. This wider range schools has improved pupils’ experience of education because it means that pupils have a more personalised learning experience – e.g. personalised timetables that can include extra revision for example. The New Right argues that academies have  improved education because they have raised standards through competition, but Marxists argue this has mainly benefited the middle classes because they have the cultural capital to take advantage of the education system.

Additionally, the item states that ‘league tables on school performance are also publicly available’. This has increased parental choice because parents can use them and OFSTED to help make a decision about where to send their child. The New Right argue this changes pupils’ experience of education because schools have to raise standards to attract consumer parents. However, Marxists say this only benefits the middle classes as they have the economic capital which leads to cultural capital, they make a choice effectively. In contrast Gerwertz found that working class parents were disconnected choosers – they sent their child to local school, which means working class children have a negative experience of education because they end up going to the failing schools at the bottom of the league tables.

Examiner Commentary:

Mark: 9/10

Both paragraphs are conceptually detailed with analysis, evaluation and located in a theoretical context.

Thorough knowledge and understanding, evaluation and analysis, application needs to be more developed in paragraph one for maximum marks.

KT’s commentary:

Personally I thought the two paragraphs were a bit repetitive, but there you go.

If you like this sort of thing, you might also like to check out this 5/10 mark response to the same question.

Source:

A-level
SOCIOLOGY
Feedback on the Examinations
Student responses and commentaries: Paper 1 7192/1 Education with Theory and Methods
Published: Autumn 2017

Applying material from Item A, analyse two changes in the position of children in society over the last 100 years.

A 10 mark ‘analyse with item’ practice question and answer for the AQA’s A-level paper 2: families

Applying material from Item A, analyse two changes in the position of children in society over the last 100 years (10)

  • Hooks

Item A

Parents today spend a great deal of time and money trying to make sure that their children enjoy a comfortable upbringing. They want their children to have opportunities that they themselves never had. ‘March of progress’ sociologists argue that these changes in family life have led to an improvement in the position of children in society.

How to answer this question?

It’s pretty obscure (IMO) but the item gives you TWO obvious ‘hooks’:

  1. Time/ money/ comfortable upbringing which is pointing to ‘improving living standards’
  2. Improved opportunities – education being the most obvious!

The above two should be your two points, analysed in both cases from the March of progress view (how have these improved the position of children), and to my mind this question is also screaming for you to evaluate each of these points (unlike the not item outline and explain 10 mark questions, you do get marks for evaluating in these ’10 mark with the item’ question.

You might like to review these two posts before attempting this question:

The Mark scheme

applying-item-question-10-mark-scheme

 A brief model answer..

I advise developing each of the points below still further!

Point 1: As it says in item A, one change in children’s position in society is that parents spend more time and money on them, and so they have a more comfortable life… the average child now costs about £250K to raise, much more than 100 years ago.

Development – this is because of economic growth over the last 100 years, parents now earn more money and so are able to spend more on children’s toys and ‘educational experiences’ which can further child development; as well as more nutritional food, which means children are healthier.

Further development – parents are also more involved with the socialisation of their children; this is especially true of middle class parents who invest a lot time ‘injecting cultural capital’ into their children.

Further development – lying behind all of this is the fact that children are no longer seen as economic assets: they no longer have to work, but rather there has been a cultural shift in which children have rights and should be allowed a lengthy childhood in which they are cared for.

Evaluation – However there are critics of this ‘march of progress view’ – not all parents are able to afford products for their children (lone parents for example) which can create a sense of marginalisation; also there is a sense in which parents spend time with their kids because they are paranoid about their safety in a risk society – Frank Furedi for example argues that this might stifle child development by preventing them from becoming independent.

Point 2: The second social change which can be said to have improved the lives of children is improved opportunities for children – such as with the expansion of education.

Development – 100 years ago (early 19th century) schooling was only compulsory up until about the age of 14, and this was gradually extended through the decades until today children are expected to be in education or training until the age of 18.

Further Development – From a functionalist point of view, education is meritocratic today and so provides opportunities for all children to achieve qualifications and get jobs appropriate to their skills. Children also benefit from the secondary socialisation schools provide, which many uneducated parents may not be able to provide effectively. We now have National Curriculum which ensures all children learn maths English and a broad range of other subjects

Further development – The expansion of education has been combined with the expansion of child welfare more generally – so schools are about improving child well being and safety more generally, meaning children have more opportunities to escape abuse than in the past.

Evaluation – However, from a Marxist point of view, not everyone has the same opportunities in school, and from a Feminist perspective gendered socialisation and stereotyping in school means that girls do not have equality of opportunity with boys.

A Level Sociology Families and Households Revision Bundle

Families Revision Bundle CoverIf you like this sort of thing, then you might like my A Level  Sociology Families and Households Revision Bundle which contains the following:

  1. 50 pages of revision notes covering all of the sub-topics within families and households
  2. mind maps in pdf and png format – 9 in total, covering perspectives on the family
  3. short answer exam practice questions and exemplar answers – 3 examples of the 10 mark, ‘outline and explain’ question.
  4.  9 essays/ essay plans spanning all the topics within the families and households topic.

Analyse two ways in which marketization policies may have increased inequality of educational opportunities for some students (10)

Applying material from item A and elsewhere analyse two reasons why marketization policies may have increased inequality of educational opportunities for some students (10)

  • Hooks
  • What you need to apply the hooks to

Item A

Since the 1980s, a major aim of government policy has been to increase parental choice in education. In order to increase choice, the government introduced Open Enrolement, allowing parents to choose more than one school and league tables on school performance were also made publicly available.

However, critics of marketization argue that such polices have increased inequality of educational opportunity.

Suggested answer

The first way is that although open enrolement gave parents the right to choose more than one school, technically giving all parents the right to choose the ‘best schools’, middle class children have more effective choice than working class parents.

Development/ analysis: This is because middle class parents have more cultural capital than working class parents – they are more comfortable with reading school literature, attending open evenings and filling in multiple application forms (where they can use their elaborated speech skills), while working class parents are less confident and just end up sending their children to the local schools.

Further development/ analysis: This is further compounded by the ‘school-parent alliance’ – schools want middle class children because they know they get better results, which

Further development/ analysis: An even more basic reason is selection by mortgage – schools have catchment areas, and the houses which fall inside these catchment areas are more expensive, meaning only wealthier children get selected for such schools.

Further development/ analysis: All of this means that ‘choice policies’ have resulted in unequal opportunities for working class children, because they are less likely to be selected for the best schools, not because of their individual potential, but because the higher levels of material and cultural capital of the middle classes gives them more effective choice and thus a greater opportunity to be selected for the best schools.

A second way is that league tables have resulted in schools tending to focus more on formal academic subjects such as English and maths which possibly disadvantages those children who are not good at formal academic subjects.

Development – Because schools are now concerned about their position in the league tables, which depends on their reports and exam results, they have narrowed the curriculum to focus more on core subjects such as English and Maths, putting more resources into these subjects – this is good for those pupils who like those subjects, but bad for students who are gifted in sports or creative subjects, as these are now relatively less funded, meaning there is no equality of opportunity for all students to fulfil their diverse potentials.

Development – Postmodernists would argue this is especially problematic in a postmodern society which is supposed to be more individualised – surely in such a society, if schools are to provide equality of opportunity then they would diversify the way their resources are distributed rather than focusing them more narrowly on ‘core subjects’ for the sake of going up the league tables.

Evaluation – Having said this, the above point only applies to schools: it is quite possible that students who are more creative or vocational will put less emphasis on the cores subjects and instead take advantage of the greater diversity of ‘learning opportunities’ now available outside school to explore their talents, such as online courses and apprenticeships, which you could say ‘fit in’ with the idea of ‘an education market’.