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Nabila Bibi
Researching an Education Setting
-590551138555Investigating applications and admissions to secondary schools
Sociologists are interested in the processes by which pupils and their parents apply to, and pupils are admitted to secondary schools. Much evidence suggests that working class and minority ethnic group pupils are less likely to apply or to gain admission to higher status schools with good results. Sociologists may also study application and admission to secondary schools by using official statistics. For example, a study of statistics shows that selective schools have a lower proportion of pupils on free school meals. Similarly, official statistics can be used to measure the effect of changes in admissions policies, for example when a school changes from being non-selective to selective. However, there may be no official statistics available on factors sociologists consider important.
00Investigating applications and admissions to secondary schools
Sociologists are interested in the processes by which pupils and their parents apply to, and pupils are admitted to secondary schools. Much evidence suggests that working class and minority ethnic group pupils are less likely to apply or to gain admission to higher status schools with good results. Sociologists may also study application and admission to secondary schools by using official statistics. For example, a study of statistics shows that selective schools have a lower proportion of pupils on free school meals. Similarly, official statistics can be used to measure the effect of changes in admissions policies, for example when a school changes from being non-selective to selective. However, there may be no official statistics available on factors sociologists consider important.
Using material from item B and elsewhere assess the strengths and limitations of using official statistics when investigating applications and admissions to secondary schools. (20 marks)
Item B:Official statistics are quantitative data gathered by the government or other official bodies. Some examples of official statistics include births, deaths, marriages, divorces, exam results, school exclusions, crime, suicide, unemployment, health etc. The national census which occurs every ten years is a major source of official statistics. Official statistics can be gathered through either registration or official surveys. There are many ways in which official statistics can be used, and sociologists tend to use official statistics for their research.
One of the research topics that sociologists like to study is the applications and admissions process into secondary schools. They tend to use official statistics for this because they are gathered by the government and are more likely to be true. There are also many other advantages and disadvantages of using official statistics for research.

A major advantage of using official statistics is that they are a free source of huge amounts of quantitative data. This means they can be easily analysed to produce patterns and trends in applications and admissions. Also, only the state can afford to conduct large-scale surveys, so by using these official statistics, sociologists can save a lot of time and money. Therefore, official statistics can be seen as a very useful source of information and data, and can be very good for researching school application and admission patterns.
Another advantage of using official statistics is that they are very reliable. This is because they are compiled in a standardised way by trained staff, following set procedures. This means that they can be repeated to find similar results which makes it reliable. If the statistics are reliable, it also means they are true and valid, which means they show a true picture. This also shows that official statistics are a very good way of researching application and admission processes in school.
A further advantage of using official statistics is that they often cover very large numbers and this means they are generally more representative than samples conducted with limited resources. This means that official statistics are truer than other methods, and they can successfully be applied to most people. This is very useful when researching an issue like school applications and admissions and therefore, official statistics can be a very good method for researching this topic.
On the other hand, there are also some disadvantages of using official statistics for researching this topic. For example, the government collects official statistics for its own purpose and not for sociologists. This means that the official statistics may not be related to exactly what the sociologist is looking for. For example, Durkheim’s study of suicide found that there were no statistics on this issue. Therefore, official statistics may not be the best method for researching application and admission processes for school.
Another disadvantage of using official statistics is that they tend to be quantitative data. This means that they are not very detailed and may lack important information. Although they may be easy to analyse, they may lack the important facts which may be the ones that are actually needed for the research. Therefore, official statistics may not be very suitable for researching this topic.

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A final disadvantage of official statistics is that the definitions that the state uses in collecting the data may be different from that of the sociologist. For example, they may define ‘poverty’ or ‘truancy’ differently. This can lead to different views on the problem and therefore, may produce different results, which means it may not be very reliable. This also shows that official statistics may not be the most suitable method for researching a topic about school applications and admissions.
In conclusion, using official statistics may be seen as a suitable enough method for researching school applications and admissions. This is because, they are a very easy and quick way of gaining large amounts of data, and they tend to be very reliable. This shows that although they may lack detail, they usually still contain a lot of information on common topics, which can be used for research. Therefore, they can be used as part of researching the application and admission processes within schools.

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