Should a high quality education be for everyone, or just for a chosen few? Is education part of the problem of an unequal society, or does it help provide ways to make the world a fairer place? We all know that education is vital to us as individuals and a society, but does it matter that people’s access to, experiences of, and outcomes from education are so unequal? If we have uneven educational provision, will we necessarily have an unequal society, or is it the other way around?
In the UK, despite decades of political and financial intervention in the schooling system, we know that the education a young person receives is shaped by their family background, social class, ethnicity, race, gender, perceived ability, religion, sexuality and other social differences. We explore the ways in which these differences make a difference in educational terms, drawing on a range of research evidence.
Debate can be lively and contentious. It seems as though education is never out of the news these days, with discussion raging about Islam in schools, the UK government’s Academy programme, university tuition fees, if/when/how to teach sex education, and so on. We locate these contemporary issues in a political and historical context and draw on policy, media, and academic evidence to investigate a range of important topics of national and international relevance.