Journal Article

Gatekeepers or Facilitators: The Influence of Teacher Habitus on Pupils’ Applications to Elite Universities

Published 1 January 2010 / By Caroline Oliver, Nigel Kettley

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Introduction

Low application rates of state school students to elite universities have been identified as a factor in their limited participation in elite universities. This article explores the role of teachers in state schools and colleges in guiding higher education (HE) choice. Drawing on qualitative research with teachers and students in six institutions, we identify differential practices that corroborate explanations of an ‘institutional habitus’ shaping students’ likely pathways to HE. However, we suggest that attention is paid to teacher habitus, demonstrating how teachers’ political and ethical dispositions as well as their social capital are potential factors shaping students’ decision-making about HE, and elite university applications in particular.

Oliver, C. and Kettley, N. (2010) 'Gatekeepers or Facilitators: The Influence of Teacher Habitus on Pupils’ Applications to Elite Universities', The British Journal of Sociology of Education, 31(6): 737-753