Classic Texts: Halsey, Heath & Ridge "Origins & Destinations" 1980
Last updated 23 Apr 2019
This was an extensive piece of research on the educational chances of schoolboys from different social classes.
Halsey, Heath and and Ridge accessed a large sample of 8000 men, to look at the extent to which social class had impacted their experience of education. He divided people up into three social classes:
1. The service class
2. The intermediate class
3. The working class
The service class were professionals and managers, the intermediate class other "white-collar" workers and the working class included manual labourers.
They found that the children born into the service class did much better at school then those from the intermediate class, and both did better than the working class.
For example, people from the service class were 11 times more likely to attend university as those from the working class. The differences between the sons of service-class families and those from working-class families was found to be very great throughout, with service-class children four times more likely to still be at school at 16, eight times and 17 and ten times at 18. (The school leaving age was raised to 16 in 1972).
While the differences described are very clear, there are a number of possible problems with the research. One, the research did not consider girls at all, which could have a significant impact on the findings. Second, there had been significant changes in both the education system and society since many of the sample had finished school. Also, some sociologists would question the way the study defined social classes.