Education

Our education list focuses on education policy and politics and the inequalities that are both built into education systems and perpetuated by them. It speaks to the UN Sustainable Development Goal 4: Quality Education. 

Our titles, including Arun Verma’s Anti-Racism in Higher Education, address the challenges in education, including those around technology and the digital divide. The list offers students and researchers internationally sourced evidence-based solutions that challenge traditional neoliberal approaches to learning.

Education

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In this, the concluding chapter of the book, the author considers the implications of the research findings for social justice for disadvantaged students. The author returns to Iris Marion Young’s five faces of oppression and discusses examples of exploitation, marginalisation, powerlessness, cultural imperialism and violence. The chapter finishes with some final thoughts about what more can be done to address the various inequalities at play affecting disadvantaged students, and how we may arrive at a more socially just education system.

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This chapter reviews the socioeconomic landscape for disadvantaged students in the country. These children, historically categorised as ‘working class’, but now termed ‘disadvantaged’ are identified predominantly by being eligible for free school meals. It is recognised that the free school meals process is resulting in a number of children who should be receiving this benefit missing out, and methods for rectifying this are discussed. The chapter considers what it means to be poor in a rich country like the UK and the impact of poverty on millions of children. Finally, sociological explanations are presented. It is argued that theoretical analyses from Pierre Bourdieu’s social practice theory may be of use in examining why the trends of disadvantage and inequality are so ingrained in society.

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Disadvantaged Students, Exclusion and Social Justice
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Why do disadvantaged students continue to get a poor deal as they progress through England’s education system?

Challenging orthodox thinking about school exclusion, this book powerfully advocates for a fairer education system for disadvantaged students. It argues that the current conceptualisation of ‘exclusion’ – physically removing the student from the school – is insufficient. This approach fails to recognise the layers of exclusion that these students encounter. Students can be excluded within their schools (inner exclusion), not just from school (outer exclusion).

Drawing on student experiences of exclusion and the perspectives of senior leaders, including the author who is a Head of School, this book demonstrates how we can create a fairer education system for disadvantaged students.

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This chapter outlines concerning longstanding trends regarding outcomes for disadvantaged students in England’s secondary schools. This group is disproportionately excluded from schools and these students, on average, attain much worse academic results than their peers. Although the utility of all the data about disadvantaged students is recognised, the chapter calls for a more critical perspective on datafication – the role that these data play in the education system. It is argued that because this narrative often ignores wider socioeconomic disparities, this is resulting in an uneven approach to tackling the inequalities which are leading to poorer outcomes for disadvantaged students. Consequently, concerns are raised about the implications for social mobility in the country. The chapter also introduces the research presented across the book – the experiences and perspectives of students who have found themselves permanently excluded from the mainstream schools they used to attend and are now attending pupil referral units (PRUs). Additionally, there are interviews with staff in the PRUs and senior leaders in mainstream schools.

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This chapter discusses the nature and impact of exclusion in England’s education system. At present, this is generally heavily influenced by conceptions directed by the state – suspensions (fixed period) and permanent exclusions – and under both of these categories, disadvantaged students find themselves disproportionately excluded. Yet, it is observed that exclusion is wider and deeper than it is generally conceptualised and, therefore, it is argued that utilising a spatial lens helps to develop more nuanced judgements about the position of disadvantaged students who are finding themselves excluded in the education system. Consequently, this chapter also considers other ways that disadvantaged students can be excluded in their schools. The chapter also discusses how schools use managed moves and alternative provision to avoid permanently excluding students.

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This book argues that to address the longstanding concerns around the outcomes of disadvantaged students, there needs to be a greater focus on their position in the education system. Part I presents the key themes and issues discussed throughout the book. Chapter 1 discusses why disadvantaged students have become educational collateral damage. Chapter 2 examines the nature and impact of socioeconomic disadvantage on children in England’s education system. Chapter 3 seeks to broaden the notion of ‘exclusion’ with a consideration of how disadvantaged children can become both excluded from, and also within, their schools. Spatial concepts are drawn from to examine the way exclusion is layered and how this, in turn, is experienced by disadvantaged students. Chapter 4 considers what a more socially just situation for disadvantaged students may look like. Part II presents exclusion experiences. These include the perspectives of students who have been permanently excluded from mainstream schools and the staff who support them in two pupil referral units based in two of the most deprived areas in England, one in the north and the other in the south. Additionally, the perspectives of senior leaders of mainstream schools are presented. Three types of social space in the education system are analysed. Chapter 5 discusses the nature of mainstream space in schools. Chapter 6 presents inner exclusion space. Chapter 7 considers outer exclusion space. The book concludes by reflecting on the author’s research to discuss what more needs to be done to bring about social justice for disadvantaged students.

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This chapter presents inner exclusion space. This is the space where students who are termed ‘persistently disruptive’ operate when they are not quite engaging in mainstream space but are not quite fully detached from it either. It draws from the author’s research – interviews with various students who have found themselves permanently excluded from mainstream schools and who now attend pupil referral units (PRUs), the staff who support those students and senior leaders working in mainstream schools. Three themes are presented: firstly, rupture which marks the process of students being placed outside of mainstream space. Secondly, the detachment that takes place as the students become further embedded in inner exclusion space. Thirdly, the ways in which students become deemed incompatible with mainstream space are discussed with the size of the secondary school and the stretching of resources for the number and variety of needs raised as particular barriers to effective inclusion.

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In the Introduction, the author reflects on his experiences of being an educator in the state school system in England and discusses why a more developed perspective on the nature of exclusion in schools is necessary. The phenomenon is set out that the vast majority of all formally recorded school exclusions in the UK take place in England, most of these exclusions are of secondary school students and of these excluded students, those who are disadvantaged make up a disproportionate number. It is argued that there are, potentially, a wide array of practices in schools that may be popularly regarded as ‘inclusive’, but when scrutinised closely are actually exclusionary. This approach encourages readers to consider exclusion not as a binary – in/out – process, but as taking place in layers.

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This book argues that to address the longstanding concerns around the outcomes of disadvantaged students, there needs to be a greater focus on their position in the education system. Part I presents the key themes and issues discussed throughout the book. Chapter 1 discusses why disadvantaged students have become educational collateral damage. Chapter 2 examines the nature and impact of socioeconomic disadvantage on children in England’s education system. Chapter 3 seeks to broaden the notion of ‘exclusion’ with a consideration of how disadvantaged children can become both excluded from, and also within, their schools. Spatial concepts are drawn from to examine the way exclusion is layered and how this, in turn, is experienced by disadvantaged students. Chapter 4 considers what a more socially just situation for disadvantaged students may look like. Part II presents exclusion experiences. These include the perspectives of students who have been permanently excluded from mainstream schools and the staff who support them in two pupil referral units based in two of the most deprived areas in England, one in the north and the other in the south. Additionally, the perspectives of senior leaders of mainstream schools are presented. Three types of social space in the education system are analysed. Chapter 5 discusses the nature of mainstream space in schools. Chapter 6 presents inner exclusion space. Chapter 7 considers outer exclusion space. The book concludes by reflecting on the author’s research to discuss what more needs to be done to bring about social justice for disadvantaged students.

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This chapter discusses the nature of mainstream space in the education system. It draws from the author’s research – interviews with various students who have found themselves permanently excluded from mainstream schools and who now attend pupil referral units (PRUs), the staff who support those students and senior leaders working in mainstream schools. Three themes are presented: firstly, closing the gap which is the distance between the outcomes of disadvantaged students and their peers. It is argued this can lead to a focus on the surface-level features that can result from datafication, rather than the wider socioeconomic factors that feed into the gap. Secondly, the ways schools use rules to shape the mainstream space is discussed. Acquiescence with the rules leads to rewards and defiance of the rules results in sanctions which involve exclusion from mainstream space in some form or other. Thirdly, the perspective gap is presented, which is a disjunction in outlook between the students and staff about the purpose of school.

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