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Social Class Inequality Essay

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Multiple higher-level professionals such as researchers, politicians and scholars have debated with either each other on the topic on whether that an individual’s socio-economic status, may affect his or her education and lifestyle negatively. This research essay will provide evidence that there is a clear distinction and negative outcome for people who are thought/ considered to be part of the lower social class. These effects lead to life effecting outcomes such as: their poor time managing lifestyles/skills, their own educational intellect and attainment ability as well as the social theory that may be linked to such reasons. Furthermore, we will also compare the level of intellect of students from low social class to those that range from middle to high class families. This paper will also point out the varying and growing strategies that the Australian government is attempting to combat by reducing and preventing these links from being further created, in order to break this cycle.

According to Connell, young children/students that are categorized in the lower socio-economic families have both difficulty and decreased ability to absorb and process new information that is presented to them. This has led to various studies and claims that have shown that students that have come from low social class families are graded worse on average in comparison to middle and high class. There are multiple reasons for this ongoing trend, such as: the family’s belief of the importance for education, accessibility levels to receive updated information and assistance to help with homework/ assessments, and their availability or time effective skills that allows them to not worry about external factors; primarily financial (Devlin, Kift, Nelson, Smith & McKay, 2012). Primarily focused on the later reason of ‘poor time skills’ which is heavily influenced by the parents, and even the child, to work for further house income as financial stress is the leading factor in majority of families in first-second world countries with negative implications (Devlin, McKay, 2017) .

In this case, Bronfenbrenner’s Ecological Theory stands out to be the most insightful and answering theory as to show why/how this cycle of negative can affect an individual. In this particular case, looking at the interaction of the Microsystems, Mesosystems and Exosystems on an individual. The microsystem looks at the individuals immediate/direct surroundings only in singular such as only their family, their school, who they interact with. The Mesosystem looks at interconnections among either two or more microsystem factors and sees the connection on how it affects the person. Finally, the Exosystems look at indirect effects that may influence and individual or others. In this instance by going off by what Devlin and co have stated, it will be a child’s living conditions at home and their parents ideas/culture effect poorly on how the child then sees the importance of education and learning at school. This is also stacked on top with the indirect pressure of financial stress that the child may face as parents’ concerns are primarily focused elsewhere.

Understanding and working to reduce social class inequality in education is very important as it helps both the individual students for their future, but most importantly, increasing sustainable national economic growth. Higher overall levels of education within a population:

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  • Reduce dependency on social welfare
  • Are associated with better health outcomes and higher levels of institutional trust and civic cooperation and lower levels of crime and imprisonment
  • Contribute to greater efficiency in personal consumer and investment behaviour
  • Lead to greater investment in the human capital of each child and higher levels of participation in the paid labour force
  • Encourage business innovation that depends on knowledge and literacy and institutional trust
  • Support democracy and may lead to better public policy later. (Hanushek, 2009)

According to Hanushek and Woessmann (2010) study, in order for such economic growth to occur there must be a raised quality standard in both the teaching skill level and the average performance. Teaching skill level refers to the ability a teacher has in order to connect and most effectively educate students through various teaching means and strategies to benefit all at an equal and fair rate. Successively teaching all students across the board as such, will as a result, improve upon the average performance of their educational achievements. In Australia, the Productivity Commission highly regards the awareness of educational achievements very important as the improvement in literacy and numeracy skills will help raise both productivity and participation in Australia. As a result, with such improvements made to early and higher educational systems, increase in literacy and numeracy could raise Australia’s aggregate labour productivity up to 1.2% in 2030. Hence, this creates an increase to Australia’s economic growth whilst equally as important, reduces inequality within the schooling system between various SES class students (Aus Gov, 2010).

Through improvements via investments in the early and higher educational systems in both government and non-government schools, there has become a growing rise in equity amongst all students. This is evident as the increase of quality outcomes through better facilitation and focus on certain investments make the greatest contribution to achieving equity. These focused investments are:

  • Early school intervention
  • Teacher quality; as they are the most in-school influencing factor on students
  • School-related factors; the environment they are in and how to better themselves
  • System-related factors; how staffing can respond to students needs and meeting parental expectations
  • Educational strategies targeted; evidence-based work that helps educate certain students to prevent fall back (Aus Gov, 2010).

Attempts to improve upon these also come at a higher cost in order to obtain higher standard levels. As a result, this has led to both state and national levels of government creating school funding policies in order to assist with: cost and resources, improve quality and equity for all students in both schooling sectors, and long term create economic growth. In doing so, non-government schools provide better return on these government funding investments by contributing to national growth and productivity in comparison to that of the government schools. Nonetheless though, there is still inequality in the approach of the funding of schools on government levels as well.

According to ABCNews, a journal article “To reduce inequality in Australian schools, make them less socially segregated” by Laura Perry, different levels of government and external factors also attribute different amounts of support and income to the various school sectors (Public, Catholic, other Private schools). Per student, Catholic schools receive the least funding surprisingly with $11,204, where most of the support is from Federal Govt with $6,229. Public is closely next with $11,548, the State Govt as main support with $9,200 funding. Whereas other private school students are shown to have total funding of $16,235 with private sources as main contributor of $9,437 and Federal Govt with $4,933. It is highly important to note that private source income support though is vastly different, where Public receive only $680 compared to Catholic schools which give $2,918. These two figures demonstrate that the students that go to Catholic schools are more likely to come from families that can better support their children through income in comparison to Public schools. This is safe to assume that this is due to the social class standings of what their parents do for work and what level they are in. In this instance, Public is lower SES whereas Catholic is middle to high. This becomes evident how much SES factors also attribute to the likelihood of a student being able to attain higher education and achievement goals/benefits in the future. This is shown how different SES students stand in comparison to other classes through the measurement of NAPLAN. It is shown that those who come from low educated parents/low SES are behind by two and a half years in education and when it comes to year 9, that gap becomes wider with up to 4 years difference, compared to those who live in a high SES or have parents that had higher education.

In conclusion, governments and schools are assisting with support and resource input to allow a majority of students to receive the chance to have an equal and fair education. Unfortunately, there are large negative impacts that do occur today when a student that comes from an already disadvantaged/low SES family, that will most likely carry on and affect their ability to be educated and likelihood of obtaining a higher earning job in the future.


  1. ABCNews, 20th April, 2018, “To reduce inequality in Australian Schools, make them less socially segregated”. By Laura Perry, The Conversation. [bookmark: _Hlk19447332]
  2. Australian Government Review of Funding for Schooling, (2010). Discussion Paper, April, Canberra: Australian Government
  3. Australian Government Review of Funding for Schooling, (2010). Emerging Issues, April, Canberra: Australian Government
  4. Connell, R., Welch, A., Vickers, M., Foley, D., Bagnall, N., Hayes, D., Proctor, H., Sriprikash, A. & Campbell, C. (2013). Education, change and society (3rd ed.). Melbourne, Victoria: Oxford University Press
  5. Devlin, M., Kift, S., Nelson, K., Smith, L., & McKay, J. (2012). Effective teaching and support of students from low socioeconomic status backgrounds: Practical advice for teaching sta. Sydney. Retrieved from
  7. Hanushek, E. (2009) “School Policy: Implications of Recent Research for Human Capital Investmentsin South Asia and Other Developing Countries,” Education Economics, Vol17, No 3, September, 291-313
  8. Hanushek, E., Woessmann, L. (14, August,2009). Poor Student Learning explains the Latin American growth puzzle, Vox Research-based policy analysis and commentary from leading economists,
  9. Nolan, A., & Raban, B. (2015). Theories into Practice: Understanding and Rethinking Our Work with Young Children. Melbourne: Five Senses Education. Retrieved from
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