Social class and participation in further education: evidence from the Youth Cohort Study of England and Wales

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This paper examines the class distribution of young people, aged 16–17 years, in colleges of further education (FE) using data from the Youth Cohort Study. It finds that, contrary to popular perceptions of FE colleges as being for ‘other people’s children’, middle‐class students as well as working‐class students are well represented. However, this does not imply that FE colleges are institutions of choice; middle‐class representation is often related to lower achievement and, for low‐achieving working‐class students, leaving education entirely is more likely than entry to FE. These findings are explored using notions of habitus and field. Their relationship with studies of the education of middle‐class children is also discussed, and the paper suggests that research on class in FE colleges must come to terms with middle‐class presence.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)29-42
Number of pages14
JournalBritish Journal of Sociology of Education
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2009


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