Effects of Socioeconomic Disadvantage on Education:

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Disadvantaged socioeconomic status can affect education in terms of opportunities, experiences and outcomes. Socioeconomic status is detrimental towards the discrimination that many children face in their ability to access a sustainable education, which affects their experience and outcomes during all life phases including their ability to obtain employment (Tait, 2012). The resources one group of children may possess may not fit the needs of another.

This can result in a lack of equity, fairness and unfair distribution of resources leading to a poor educational experience. Similarly, Gonski, as well as other sectors such as HEPPP has laid fundamental steps to help combat this issue, such as funding and other forms of intervention like assisting towards the access of higher education degrees (Gore et al. 2015). Bourdieu’s capital forms of social, economic, symbolic and cultural play a major role in inequity, as well as Weber’s theory of stratification (Barr, 2018). This essay will focus on the specific issues that are faced in terms of access, outcomes and experiences of education towards low socioeconomic children, and how these issues have been mitigated in more recent times. There is a distinct link between socioeconomic status and lack of access to quality education. A child’s outcome in terms of their ability or inability to receive a university degree is somewhat dependent on their families’ socioeconomic status (Lee, 2014).

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Children raised in areas of poor socioeconomic households display signs of discouragement towards working in professions such as medicine and law, and are encouraged into ‘blue collar jobs’, providing them with limited opportunity and choice towards their passions (Perry and McConney, 2010). Similarly, A family’s financial status and symbolic capital is becoming more important towards a child enrolling into a tafe, university or a higher education course. From a study on educational attainment, it was determined that the chances of a student receiving a university degree at 26 was 57% higher for young people who had parents that had completed a degree in higher education, but that number decreased to 28% for young people who had parents with no higher education degree (Lee, 2014). These statistics link back to Bourdieu’s concept of capitals, and more specifically symbolic capital, as those of lower forms of this are the ones who experience disregard and poor outcomes in education (Barr, 2018). Throughout much of Australia’s history, it has been distinguished that the lower the economic, social, symbolic, and cultural capital a person possesses, the less likely they are to receive adequate educational opportunities (Tait, 2012). Similarly, statistics from the Program for International Student Assessment or (PISA) indicate major disparities towards educational access and opportunities for that of low socioeconomic students. Australia’s gap between advantaged and disadvantaged schools is ‘greater than in many OECD countries’ (Gonski review 2011). Also, it is noted that in lower socioeconomic schools, there are less resources to be distributed such as books and laptops, and as Australia is ranked third in this department, something needs to be done to mitigate this (Perry, 2017). This untimely discrepancy is due to an unjust and inequitable distribution of funding from Government sectors at a state and federal level, creating poor equity and inequality (Perry, 2017).

Additionally, poor environmental factors within low socioeconomic areas can significantly affect educational outcomes, future employment, living conditions and marital status creating a ripple effect for further generations (Tait, 2012). Findings in Perth concluded that only 10% of lower-socioeconomic schools offered advanced mathematical, science and English literature subjects, which poses the question of the quality of education and experience of students as well as teachers (Perry, 2015). Insufficient primary school education can lead to the prevention of low socioeconomic children from advancing into university degrees, as they do not have access to the basic knowledge required (Perry, 2015). Educational experiences for lower socioeconomic children are more likely to encompass disregard and disengagement from teachers. This creates a decreased sense of belonging and involvement within the classroom. In a PISA finding, statistics showed that only 24% of students in Australia were accepted into a high school based on their academic performance, highlighting how external factors such as forms of capital, and how they may look past their individual ability (Perry, 2017). Furthermore, low socioeconomic students are conditioned to believe that ‘university is not for them’ (Harvey, 2016), as they are generally told that they should leave school early to begin working in blue-collar industries. As stated in Barr (2018), we understand this notion with Ahmad’s experience and outcomes of his own education and the failed system that is corresponding with this “Were the lowest class in the worst school, were not allowed in university, just tafe”. This is a perfect example of how disadvantaged schools and students are closed off from University, creating a ripple effect. Social class and socioeconomic status play a major role in determining what level of schooling a child may attend.

Public schooling may result in an education with fewer resources (Tait, 2012). Educational outcomes contrast between students living in high and low socioeconomic status areas, as there is statistically a three-year difference relating to the achievement gap (Perry, 2017). Indigenous populations fall under the branch of under privileged, as only 47% of these people meet the requirement in trends in International Math and Science Study (Perry, 2017). This is a cause for concern, with non-indigenous children with 77% meeting the requirements (Perry, 2017). This may be similarly compared with the socioeconomic statistics as many Indigenous students fall under the branch of socioeconomically disadvantaged. Furthermore, the contrast between parental socioeconomic statuses can result in either an upsurge or decrease in cognitive development, due to the financial resources and access to knowledge they may possess or lack (Dotterer, Iruka, and Pungello, 2012). Similarly, Socioeconomic status is depictive of generational outcomes; meaning parents who are of a low socioeconomic status can negatively hinder a child’s cognitive and intellectual outcomes. It is suggested that parental occupational status plays a detrimental factor towards a child enrolling in a higher educational degree (Lee, 2014).

Statistics from Lee (2014) show that the odds of obtaining a degree from Sandstone vs. that of a gumtree University were that of 1. 72 times greater for those with parents who have a degree. Contrastingly, the chance of students attending a sandstone university was only 0. 16 greater for those with parents who do not own a degree, demonstrating how family outcomes play a major role in a student’s educational experience and outcomes (Lee, 2014). There have been significant measures in aiding socioeconomically disadvantaged children’s level of education, which are a result of the Gonski reform. The smarter schools national partnership for low socioeconomic school communities targets their focus towards low SES students through ensuring they transfer to further studies appropriately. There is also a particular focus on providing quality teaching, and excellence in community participation to deliver a holistic approach (Barr, 2018). The Higher Education Participation and Partnerships Program or (HEPPP) is an organisation that has contributed immensely towards creating access to university and higher education for low socioeconomic children, as well as making sure that they complete their degrees successfully (Barr, 2018). Statistics from HEPPP suggest that between the years of 2008-2015, low socioeconomic students completing in a higher education degree increased by a staggering 50. 2%, and more specifically an increase of 36. 8% towards that of undergraduate enrolments (Barr, 2018).

From the HEPPP program, further statistics show that the ratio for low socioeconomic students being accepted into a university degree is 0. 62 to 1, showing significant improvements (Gore et al. , 2015). With regards to the Gonski report (2011), a funding redistribution aimed to implement $18. 6 billion over a decade, and was mainly targeted to low socioeconomic schools in turn creating equity for all. In addition, strategies and critical elements were at the forefront of this project, consisting of engaging the broader community, as well as building teacher capacity, and making sure parents were at the forefront of decision making towards their child’s education (Barr, 2018). Additionally, the Gonski project 2. 0 (2017) posed for a six-year timetable directed at low socioeconomic schools, as well as raising $23. 5 billion over a decade (Barr, 2018). Similarly, Gonski 2. 0 demanded that the independent national schools resourcing board be established to create equity and to screen more carefully where money is spread, as well as spreading funds away from independent school sectors (Barr, 2018). There is profound evidence to suggest that socioeconomically disadvantaged children experience certain barriers in regards to access, outcomes and experiences of education.

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