The role of the school curriculum in social mobility

This paper focuses on the role of curricular content on social mobility, an issue largely neglected by social mobility studies. Using data from the National Child Development Study, the paper investigates the extent to which secondary school curricula account for social class differences in the chances of entering into the service class and avoiding a low-skilled occupation. The results show that curriculum matters in the acquisition of different social classes of destination but it matters more for children from advantaged social backgrounds than for children from lower classes of origin. This is because of their higher propensity to choose subjects such as languages, English, mathematics and science, which were found to be highly valued in the labour market. Moreover, net of the effect of origin class and individual ability, all or most of the advantage associated with attendance at selective schools is accounted for by the curriculum studied there.

Date: 
Friday, November 1, 2013
Authors: 
Iannelli, C.
Journal: 
The British Journal of Sociology of Education
Volume: 
34
Issue: 
5-6
Pages: 
907-928
DOI: 
12/09/2013

Research Strand: