Schooling and Equality:
Fact, Concept and Policy
Edited by Dave Hill and Mike Cole
This book is intended to demonstrate and analyse the persistent inequalities in the education system in England and Wales. Schools and the education system more widely have been systematically restructured in the last quarter of a century by both Conservative governments (1979-1997) and New Labour governments (1997-). These policies have had a major impact on inequalities in society.
Chapter 1, by Dave Hill, sets out the various types of education (and wider) policies pursued by different types of government in Britain. That chapter examines the main characteristics of different ideologies underlying the education policies, and also looks at the effects of (for example) socialist/Marxist ideas, social democratic ideas, Conservative (neo-liberal and neo-conservative) ideas and New Labour ideas and policies on equality of opportunity and equality. The chapter concludes with an assessment of the ideology informing New Labour in government.
Chapter 2 locates the policy developments discussed in Chapter 1 within the wider policy context of neo-liberalism, which emphasises privatisation and competitive markets in education and in social and welfare policy more generally. Neo-liberalism is also identified as a global phenomenon- similar restructuring of schooling and education has taken place across the globe. The chapter proceeds to examine the effects of neo-liberal policies in increasing inequalities in Britain and in other states. The chapter concludes by making a number of trenchant criticisms of neo-liberalism, for example in the work of the British neo-liberal propagandist James Tooley. It concludes the wide-ranging critique of neo-liberalism by looking forward to critical transformative education for equality.
In Chapter 3, Kenneth Dunkwu looks at the role of research in the quest for equal opportunities and equality. He uncovers the uses and misuses of educational research for political purposes, discusses research into the effects of `league tables' and market forces in education policy, and considers a political role for educational research in the achievement of social justice, and for what he terms `diversity without disempowerment'. Dunkwu examines significant post-war examples - such as the assimilationist approaches to the children of immigrant communities during the 1950s and 1960s, the Education Reform Act of 1988, aspects of the contemporary National Curriculum and the re-organisation of research. He uses these to illustrate the limits imposed on egalitarianism by legislation for education that carries with it social and economic forms of discrimination
Chapter 4, by Leena Helevaara Robertson and Rachel Hill consider the inequalities suffered by `the excluded' within the education system. The chapter listens to the voices of the excluded and places these voices- from Pahari/Mirpuri speaking early years children in Watford to white working class teenagers in North- East England and in East Lothian, within the broader family, cultural and policy contexts. The chapter identifies different types of exclusion- from physical exclusion from school, to self-exclusion from school, to wider social exclusion. It draws distinctions between the more inclusive Early Years curriculum in England and Wales and the more exclusive 5-16 National Curriculum.
Chapter 5, by Dave Hill, analyses how the subject curriculum and the hidden curriculum serve to exclude particular social types /groups of children and to reproduce and confirm inequalities in education and society. The chapter makes use of principles derived from Althusser and Bourdieu. These concepts, of schools as ideological state apparatuses, and of cultural capital, are used to analyse curriculum knowledge that has been selected, and cultural behaviours privileged and rewarded through both the formal and the hidden curricula. The chapter also identifies the mixture of gains and losses created by the National Curriculum in terms of educational equality regarding 'race', gender, special needs, sexual diversity and social class.
In Chapter 6, Chris Gaine discusses the historical development, strengths and weaknesses of equal opportunities policies in LEAs and in schools. He focuses on how to embed and secure effective equal opportunities policies in the face of various types of resistance to them. He therefore focuses on the management of change- on the support systems in schools (the processes and personnel) that are required, if the policy is to be implemented thoroughly and completely. The chapter thereby maps the crucial areas where policy has failed to effect change in the past and where it can succeed in the future, particularly in relation to equality. Chris Gaine points out that ` Policies legitimate certain concerns, provide resources to further them, and provide a basis for evaluation and refinement'.
The next five chapters in the book highlight particular inequalities within the education system- within schools, the wider education system and within society. In Chapter 7, Dave Hill and Mike Cole examine social class; in Chapter 8, `Race' Tim Waller, Dave Hill and Mike Cole look at `race'; Kate Hirom deals with gender in Chapter 9; Chapter 10, by Iain Williamson looks at sexuality, and Chapter 11, by Richard Rose, examines special educational needs.
Each of these five chapters sets out factual evidence regarding equality in education and in society, regarding those inequalities and regarding recent trends. The various chapter writers also evaluate various explanations of the inequalities particular to social class, `race', gender, sexuality and disability. The extent of the persistent discrimination against particular groups of young people in schools may surprise some readers. Each chapter defines key concepts regarding `social class, or `race' or gender or sexuality or special educational needs. The chapter writers regard `nomenclature'- what we call people- as important. Each chapter also has a policy element- and examines in detail how various government policies on schools and education have affected particular groups- and how these education policies relate to wider areas of government policy and ideology
In Chapter 12, Kevin Myers and Ian Grosvenor address the question of why prejudice against ostracised groups- such as immigrants and asylum seekers still exists in our society. Myers and Grosvenor use an historical perspective to chart a 'chronology of exclusion' in the political rhetoric, education policy and practical treatment of 'outsider' children and their communities in Britain, throughout the 20th century - for Jewish children in the 1930s through to the children of refugees and asylum-seekers in 2000. Foreshadowing some of the conclusions of the book, they also highlight the tradition of resistance to social, political and cultural alienation, most notably in the development of positive and progressive education systems.
Mike Cole is senior lecturer in education, and research and publications mentor in the School of Education at the University of Brighton. He has written extensively on equality issues; in particular, equality and education. In more recent years he has engaged in critiques of postmodernism, globalisation and education. With Dave Hill he co-founded the Hillcole Group of Radical Left Educators in England. He edited Bowles and Gintis revisited (Falmer Press 1988), Education for Equality (Routledge 1989), and The Social Contexts of Schooling (Falmer Press 1989). His most recent publications include the co-written (with the Hillcole Group), Rethinking Education and Democracy (Tufnell Press 1997) and the edited collections, Promoting Equality in Primary Schools) (Cassell 1997), Promoting Equality in Secondary Schools (Cassell 1999), Professional Issues for Teachers and Student Teachers (David Fulton 1999), Migrant Labour in the European Union (Berg 1999), and Education, Equality and Human Rights; Issues of Gender, `Race', Sexuality, Special Needs and Social Class, (Routledge/Falmer 2000). With Dave Hill, Peter Mclaren and Glenn Rikowski he wrote Red Chalk: on Schooling, Capitalism and Politics (Institute for Education Policy Studies 2001).
Kenneth Dunkwu is Education and Cultural Development Co-ordinator, BUILD Nottingham Mentor Programme, Nottingham. His M.Phil is from Nottingham Trent University and his PhD. from Manchester University on `Attitudes and Perceptions of pupils towards school exclusion'. Kenneth has published on this in D. Simms and V. Showumni (eds) Teachers for the Future, (Trentham Books 1995). He has participated in a number of research projects. These include `Recruitment Barriers for Black Teachers' a HEFCE funded project, and `Overseas Qualifications of Black and Ethnic Minority Groups in Manchester', for the Progress Trust. He is currently researching Principles for Education and Social Justice for the British Educational Research association Social Justice special interest group for publication in the British Journal of Education Research.
Chris Gaine is Reader in the Sociology of Education at University College Chichester, where he was, for some years, responsible for 'equalities' courses in initial teacher education. Formerly he was Head of Humanities in a Wiltshire comprehensive. He has written extensively on 'race' and education, in particular No Problem Here (Hutchinson, 1991), Still No Problem Here (Trentham, 1995) and (with Rosalyn George) Gender, 'Race' and Class in Schooling (Falmer, 1999), with forhcoming chapters in books in Italian and German. He was also one of the group which produced the Runnymede Trust's Equality Assurance (Trentham, 1993), and Longman's Training for Equality (1993). He wrote the anti-racist website www.britkid.org.
Ian Grosvenor lectures in the School of Education, University of Birmingham. He was previously Head of History at Newman College and Educational Research Co-ordinator at University College Northampton. He has taught in primary, secondary and special schools, worked on Local Authority anti-racist initiatives, and worked in Equal Opportunities Programmes. He has published articles on the teaching of History, the writing of History, post 1945 British Education Policy. He is the author of Assimilating Identities: Racism and Education Policy in Post 1945 Britain (Lawrence and Wishart, 1997), edited An Introduction to the Study of Education (David Fulton, 1999) with David Matheson and edited Silences and Images: the Social History of the Classroom (Peter Lang, 1999) with Martin Lawn and Kate Rousmaniere. His current research interests include nineteenth and twentieth century urban education and children and the dynamics of social exclusion.
Dave Hill teaches at University College Northampton having also taught at at Chichester Institute of Higher Education and at Tower Hamlets College and Stockwell Manor School in inner London. He is a former Labour Parliamentary candidate (in 1979 and 1987), former Labour Group Leader on East Sussex County Council, and Regional higher education Chair of NATFHE, the lecturers' Union. Formerly he was a building worker. He has advised the Labour Party on teacher education from a radical Left perspective, With Mike Cole, in 1989, he co-founded the Hillcole Group of Radical Left Educators. He has written a number of Hillcole Group booklets on Teacher Education, co-wrote Practical Ideas for Multicultural Learning and Teaching in the Primary Classroom with Ruth Hessari (Routledge 1989), has co-written the two Hillcole Group books Changing the Future: Redprint for Education (Tufnell Press 1991) and Rethinking Education and Democracy (Tufnell Press 1997), has co-edited Promoting Equality in Primary Schools and Promoting Equality in Secondary Schools (Cassell 1997; 1999) and Postmodernism and Education: Towards a politics of Human Resistance (Tufnell Press 1999). He is editing Education, Education Education: Capitalism, Socialism and `the Third Way' (forthcoming), and co-wrote Red Chalk: on Schooling, Capitalism and Politics (2001), with Mike Cole, Peter McLaren and Glenn Rikowski. He directs the Institute for Education Policy Studies, an independent Radical Left education institute.
Rachel Hill was formerly a Maths teacher at a comprehensive school in the North-East of England is now an Educational Psychologist.
Kate Hirom has taught in schools in the London area for over twenty years and has also been an associate lecturer with the Open University. She is now English Co-ordinator in the School of Education at University College Northampton and also teaches and researches in the field of discourse analysis.
Kevin Myers teaches British social history and the history of education at the University of Birmingham, Westhill. His recently completed doctoral thesis examines the settlement and education of refugee children in Britain between 1937 and 1945 and he has published numerous articles in this area. A member of the History of Education Society Committee, he is currently working on aspects of refugee schooling in 20th century Britain.
Leena Robertson teaches at University College Northampton, on English specialism and Professional English teacher education courses and on Early Childhood Studies courses. She was formerly an early years teacher in multi-ethnic schools in Watford, and specialises and researches into bilingual and bicultural education, the strengths bilingual children bring to their learning, and the ways in which their community/home experience is excluded from the school curriculum, for example through the Literacy Hour. She is involved in a number of national research projects on Home Literacy, bilingual children's emergent literacy, and community learning experiences. She guest lectures and advises on these, and on multiculturalism and education, in Finland, with education authorities and in higher education. She is Finnish and bilingual/ bicultural herself and was involved in organising Finnish/English bilingual education provision in England.
Richard Rose is Head of the Centre for Special Needs Education and Research (CeSNER) at University College Northampton. He has previously worked as a teacher, head teacher and LEA inspector in several parts of the UK. He has published widely in the field of special education and has presented papers at several national and international conferences. He is research editor for the British Journal of Special Education. His most recent book, Promoting Inclusive Practice, written in collaboration with Christina Tilstone and Lani Florian and published by Routledge, won the NASEN/TES Academic Book of the Year Award for 1999. Richard's research interests are in the areas of inclusive education, pupil involvement in their own assessment and learning procedures and children's rights.
Tim Waller is Senior Lecturer in Education at University College Northampton where he has a responsibility for professional studies. His contribution to this book is dedicated to the students and staff at John Lea Comprehensive School, Wellingborough whose unnecessary and unwelcome closure, he feels, is a sad indictment of both Conservative and Labour education policy. He specialises in issues of equality and in its implications for Information Technology.
Iain Williamson is Lecturer in Psychology at University College Northampton. Formerly he taught Sociology and Psychology in further education for eight years and was formerly Head of Psychology at Oldham VI Form College. He is currently carrying out research into eating disturbance among gay men and the educational experience of young offenders.
(University of South Australia)
In a series of accessibly written sketches this book makes an important contribution towards a critical understanding of the political dynamics associated with the persistence of inequality in education under a regime of quite radical government educational policy changes since the 1970s. While the book draws on the British experience its analyses will resonate in other English-speaking countries.
The issue of inequality is one which strikes at the heart of what education in a modern society ought to be about and its cause and persistence for education practitioners need explanation especially in the current crisis of education restructuring.
The strength of the book lies in its attempt to fulfil this need through a critical methodology which clarifies the concepts involved, presents the fact of inequality as it occurs in some of its various forms and offers a way forward towards a positive and progressive education based on the principles of equality. These three aspects structure the book's content as well as the individual chapters. They are, as it were, the guiding thread throughout the book.
With policy as its focus Part I takes the reader through the ideologies that have shaped and are shaping government education policy; through some of the ways in which inequality is maintained; and through some of the strategies for promoting equality in education. Part II presents the facts of inequality, a reality check so to speak, in those areas in which inequality is manifested in a major way.
In detail: Chapter 1 by Dave Hill introduces those ideologies and their underlying principles, namely social democracy, liberal progressivism, radical Left and Right, neo liberalism and neo conservatism, which have been influential in the formulation of education policy and debate in Britain since 1945. He concludes the chapter with a critique of the New Labour government's policies and by way of contrast provides a summary of a radical left framework for education and equality.
In Chapter 2 Hill situates the issue of equality and inequality in schools and the education system in the broader context of economic rationalism, globalisation and the world-wide restructuring of education and schooling. He examines the theoretical assumptions of economic rationalism and the effects of this ideology in education and society. Finally, Hill identifies three factors, infrastructural conditions, consumer related regulation and legitimation, which tend to limit economic rationalism's activities.
In Chapter 3 Kenneth Dunkwu discusses the concepts of pluralism, relativism and cultural 'assimilation' which have also influenced government policy-making. He summarises the impact on education policy of political and economic developments during the 1970s and 1980s; and finally focuses on research, its use and abuse in education and the significant role it can play in developing education policy and practice for equality.
In Chapter 4 Leena Helevaara Robertson and Rachel Hill report on a small-scale research project which identifies types of exclusion as experienced and understood by students within the school and in the wider social context. They outline the ways in which exclusion occurs in schools and explore children's perspectives of the exclusion process in an attempt to identify those characteristics which make children more 'at risk' of exclusion than others. Of particular interest is their critique of the literacy hour program in relation to inclusion and bilingual children.
In Chapter 5 Dave Hill examines the political nature of the construction of the National Curriculum with reference to how the formal and hidden curricula impact on equality in schooling. In this task Hill draws on the work of Althusser and Bourdieu. The National Curriculum, he concludes, constitutes the imposition of ruling class knowledge and its enforcement is ensured through legislative and statutory regulations. Hill sees his analysis as contributing to the critical development of radical strategies for resistance and for alternative egalitarian processes in a contentious and contested area of education.
In Chapter 6 Chris Gaine considers the processes and factors in the management, practicalities and success of change. It is important in his view for equality activists who are not primarily concerned with this side of change to understand, analyse and encourage egalitarian change in schools and classrooms.
Each of the next five chapters sets out factual evidence and recent trends concerning equality in education and in society, and the authors evaluate the various explanations for the inequalities. In Chapter 7, Dave Hill and Mike Cole examine social class: in Chapter 8, Tim Waller, Dave Hill and Mike Cole study 'race'; Kate Hirom focuses on gender in Chapter 9; in Chapter 10 Iain Williamson looks at sexuality; while Richard Rose, in Chapter 11, examines special education needs.
While most of the contributors include some historical data in their essays as befits a critical approach Kevin Myers and Ian Grosvenor in Chapter 12 adopt a historical framework as the basis of their analysis in order to find an explanation for the persistence of prejudice against ostracised groups. For Myers and Grosvenor tracing the history of settlement and education in Britain of children of refugee and asylum seekers not only provides a way of understanding the contemporary experience of exclusion of refugee children but also reveals instances and examples of resistance to intolerance and racism. Their conclusion is that a critical reading of history offers not just a means of understanding the past but concrete examples of how to organise change for the future.
In the Conclusion of the book Mike Cole cites Richard Johnson's 1979 book 'Really useful knowledge' in which Johnson identifies four aspects from the popular 'radical education' tradition in the period 1790-1848 which Cole claims have considerable relevance today as a guide for future radical action for equality in education.
This book is recommended not only to a general education readership but also to researchers at any level of education as a reference text. It offers a wealth of material and bibliographical detail making it a good starting point. It would also be a boon to teacher educators and student teachers alike as an introductory text.
In my view, however, one of the main appeals of the book lies in its demonstration of the method of critique. In this regard, although the method is undeveloped and the structuring of the material somewhat forced at times resulting in a series of what appears to be unconnected parts, the book is something of a landmark in the development of a contemporary Marxian critique. The initiative is important if we are to understand why capitalism thrives and survives on inequality and how this state of affairs might be changed.