Poorer children perceived as less able by teachers

Yesterday, 9th June 2015, The Guardian published an article drawing on recent research from the University College London’s (UCL) Institute of Education.  This research found that teachers often perceive pupils from disadvantaged socio-economic backgrounds as less able than their peers and, as a result, they may be unconsciously marked down in internal assessments at school.  Even where pupils from low-income backgrounds achieved the same as their more advantaged peers in tests, teachers were still found to perceive those from disadvantaged backgrounds as less able.  The Institute of Education emphasised that this is not a trait that applies solely to teachers, but rather stereotyping expectations is a characteristic of human nature.

The research by Institute of Education also found that gendered stereotype affect teachers’ perceptions of their pupils.  Boys were assumed to be better at maths, whereas girls were perceived to be better at reading, even in circumstances where boys had girls had scored equally in literacy and numeracy tests.  Tammy Campbell, who undertook the research for Institute of Education, found that enacting and reinforcing such stereotypes and perceptions within schools can have significant implications for young people as they enter secondary school, make subject choices, and decide upon a careers path.

The Guardian’s report can be accessed here.

Helen Robinson