Structural functionalists believe that society leans towards equilibrium and social order. They see society like a human body, in which each part plays a role and all are dependent on each other for survival. Institutions such as education are like important organs that keep the society/body healthy and well. Social health means the same as social order, and is guaranteed when nearly everyone accepts the general moral values of their society.
·        Structural functionalists believe the aim of key institutions, such as education, is to socialize children and teenagers.
·        Socialization is the process by which the new generation learns the knowledge, attitudes and values that they will need as productive citizens.
·        Although this aim is stated in the formal curriculum, it is mainly achieved through "the hidden curriculum", a subtler, but nonetheless powerful, indoctrination of the norms and values of the wider society.
·        Students learn these values because their behaviour at school is regulated until they gradually internalize and accept them.
·        Education must, however perform another function. As various jobs become vacant, they must be filled with the appropriate people. Therefore the other purpose of education is to sort and rank individuals for placement in the labour market
·        Those with high achievement will be trained for the most important jobs and in reward, be given the highest incomes. Those who achieve the least, will be given the least demanding (intellectually at any rate, if not physically) jobs, and hence the least income.
Drawback of structural Functionalism
·        According to Sennet and Cobb, ―to believe that ability alone decides who is rewarded is to be deceived‖.
·        Meighan agrees, stating that large numbers of capable students from working class backgrounds fail to achieve satisfactory standards in school and therefore fail to obtain the status they deserve.
·        Jacob believes this is because the middle class cultural experiences that are provided at school may be contrary to the experiences working-class children receive at home.
·        In other words, working class children are not adequately prepared to cope at school. They are therefore ―cooled out‖ from school with the least qualifications, hence they get the least desirable jobs, and so remain working class.
·        Sargent confirms this cycle, arguing that schooling supports continuity, which in turn supports social order.