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Cultural Capital

What is Cultural Capital?

A French sociologist Pierre Bourdieu developed the idea of Cultural capital. It is seen as the collection of socially acquired skills such as knowledge, behaviours, and aspects of learned characteristics that demonstrate one's social identity and placement within society. Different groups of people have access to different sources and forms of knowledge, depending on other variables like race, class, gender, sexuality, ethnicity, nationality, religion, and even age. 

What does Cultural Capital Mean at Horsted Keynes Preschool?

Every child and family who joins our setting will have their own knowledge and experiences that will link to their culture and wider family. This might include

  • Languages

  • Beliefs

  • Traditions

  • Cultural and family heritage

  • Interests

  • Travel and work  


Cultural capital is the accumulation of knowledge, behaviours, and skills that a child can draw upon and which demonstrates their cultural awareness, knowledge, and competence; it is one of the key ingredients a child will draw upon to be successful in society, their career, and the world of work. 

Cultural capital gives power. It helps children achieve goals, become successful, and rise up the social ladder without necessarily having wealth or financial capital. Cultural capital is having assets that give children the desire to aspire and achieve social mobility whatever their starting point. 

Ofsted define cultural capital as…

As part of making the judgement about the quality of education, inspectors will consider the extent to which schools are equipping pupils with the knowledge and cultural capital they need to succeed in life. Our understanding of ‘knowledge and cultural capital’ is derived from the following wording in the national curriculum: ‘It is the essential knowledge that pupils need to be educated citizens, introducing them to the best that has been thought, said, and helping to engender an appreciation of human creativity and achievement.’ “ 

At Horsted Keynes Preschool, children benefit from a flexible curriculum that builds on what they understand and know already. We believe that exposure, not only to culture but also to situations in which the children might not have previous experiences of, is of paramount importance to their ongoing successes. 

Gradually widening children’s experiences during their time at Preschool is a crucial step in providing rich and engaging learning across the curriculum. We plan carefully for children to have progressively richer experiences in Preschool and beyond.  


Why is cultural capital important to a child in an Early Years setting?

Cultural Capital is the essential knowledge that children require for future learning and development. Children come from a myriad of starting points on entry to preschool and therefore it is important that staff in the early years gather as much information during the settling in period to determine where a child is and what they need going forward to move children along appropriate next steps. 

How do we promote Cultural Capital at Horsted Keynes Preschool? 

The curriculum is designed with all our pupils and the community in mind, combining the vital knowledge and skills necessary to flourish whilst incorporating our aims. It enables children to access and enhance their understanding of their home, their village, and the wider community, developing their cultural capital and giving them opportunities and choices about their future and their impact as they progress through Preschool and beyond. 

This will help them become successful members of modern British society, preparing them for the challenges and opportunities. 

We begin an assessment when children enter regarding their experiences, their cultural and linguistic ability and lived experiences such as languages spoken, or festivals celebrated. We will arrange a welcome visit on application to meet children and their families and complete a discussion around the child, (what they can do, what they like and what they need) as well as discussing parents/carers hopes and points of view. 

We ask parent/carers to fill out a detailed registration form prior to starting and an ‘All about me’ section on Tapestry. 

For a period of 2-3 weeks, we complete a series of observations from interactions with parents, observations within the three prime areas and four specific areas. We do this through short snapshot observations and long observations with a view to discovering existing knowledge, attainment or identifying schemas and play patterns.  


At the end of this period dependant on attendance patterns we will write a baseline assessment.  


Parents will then meet with the key worker during a parent/carer consultation to discuss starting points and what activities can be done to support the child at preschool and if there are any skills or experiences the parents/carers/family can bring to the setting to enhance the groups experiences. 


We promote cultural capital through a range of experiences such as: 

  • trips to the park, Primary school, or local care home 

  • visits from the elderly residents to read to the children 

  • visits from Fire fighters, police, GP’s etc 

  • visits to places of worship such as St Giles church 

  • attending sporting events 

  • participating in community events such as the village Nativity and May fayre 

  • Visiting the local toddler group 

  • Visits from the bug company 

  • Parents/ Practitioner coffee mornings  

  • cultural themed music dance sessions 

  • Focus activities based around the interests of the child. 

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