Despite consistent improvements in the school systems of over recent years, there are still too many children who miss out.It is not only children from disadvantaged backgrounds attending hard-pressed urban schools that the system is failing - even in the most successful schools there are often groups of learners whose experience of schooling is less than equitable.
As a result of their close involvement with a group of schools serving a predominantly working-class community over five years, the authors of this bookoffer an analysis of how marginalisation within schools can arise, and provide suggestions for responding to this crucial policy agenda. They propose a teacher-led inquiry strategythat has proved to be effective in moving forward thinking and practice within individual schools. However, their research has shownthat usingthe same strategy for system change is problematic within a policy context that emphasises competition and choice. Learning from this experience, the authors analyse the factors that inhibit the collaborative approach needed to reduce inequities that exist between the schools, in order to formulate proposals that can move the system as a whole towards more equitable provision.
In Developing Equitable Education Systems, the authorsfocus on the way teachers' sense of 'fairness' can become a powerful starting point, helping individual schools to inquire into and develop their own practice and provision. Theyprovide practical suggestions for practitioners about ways of working that can create a greater sense of equity within particular school contexts, and highlight the barriers to a wider strategy for reducing system inequities that reside in local and national policies and traditions.
At a time when government policies in many countries move to extend the diversity of educational provision - for example, through the introduction of charter schools in the USA, free schools in Sweden and academies in England - the authors also include a set of recommendations that offer a timely warning against the fragmentation of school systems in the misguided belief that competition benefits all children. They suggest that a more sensible approach would be to avoid situations whereby the improvement of one school leads to a decline in the resources available to, and subsequently the performance of, others.
Mel Ainscow is Professor of Education and Co-Director of the Centre for Equity in Education in the School of Education at the University of Manchester, UK.
Alan Dyson is Professor of Education and Co-Director of the Centre for Equity in Education in the School of Education at the University of Manchester, UK.
Sue Goldrick is a Researcher for the Centre for Equity in Education in the School of Education at the University of Manchester, UK.
Mel West is Professor of Education and Head of the School of Education at the University of Manchester, UK.