A Tale of Two Classrooms

The education system in England and Wales has of late been subject to rapid and tumultuous reforms, affecting every aspect of it. While the debate continues as to whether these changes to the structure and content of our education system actually impact quality of teaching and subsequent standards, perhaps the biggest intractable problem we face is the growing attainment gap between disadvantaged pupils and their peers.

In this collection of essays, a collaboration with Durham University, our contributors are therefore not just interested in attainment overall, but rather in how that attainment, and the opportunities that come with it, are distributed across society. Drawing on extensive research, the authors investigate the meaning of inequality, the role of contributory factors such as poverty and parental influence, and the impact of policy.

They find that despite government’s best efforts, and the introduction of the pupil premium, the attainment gap is not going away: with Demos research revealing it in fact widened this year. However, the authors within cite the growing evidence base as to ‘what works’ in reducing educational inequality, and significantly, its increasing use by policy makers and practitioners, as a reason to be cautiously optimistic about the future.