An investigation into how white working class students break the trend of underachievement and accomplish academic success

  • Gill Barrett

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisPhD


There is a well-documented history of the relationship between poverty and educational underachievement. However, there is limited discussion of the educational achievement of white working class students from deprived backgrounds. The research seeks explanations for why some white working class students in the UK succeed at school. By finding plausible explanations some of the factors behind their success may be applied to improve schooling practices for this group.The research adopts a longitudinal methodology in following a cohort of students in a ‘failing’ school, situated on a council estate in the West of England with high levels of social poverty. Two groups of students are examined, the very top performers in the school and those just above average. Student-led peer interviews, parent interviews, and the use of educational and social data inform the study.The role of cultural capital plays a significant part in the totality of success of the students. The student’s place within the family and its stability, their access to literacy development within the home, and their cultural development in the wider world, together with ‘critical moments’ provide the key performers that have shaped the capital of these students and was translated into a more aspirational outlook on life.
Date of Award27 Jun 2017
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Bath
SupervisorHugh Lauder (Supervisor)

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