ChapterPDF Available

Making Education a Priority: An overview

Authors:
  • MaCTRI (MEaP Academy Community Training & Research Institute)

Abstract

Clennon provides an overview of some of the issues BAME communities can face in the UK education sector. He explores the concepts of ‘Culture of Low Expectations’ and ‘Changing the Ideological landscapes in our Schools and Classrooms’. Clennon looks at how these concepts can be used to counter institutional stereotyping and racism in education. The chapter also outlines the rise of the market in education and its exacerbating impact on existing structural inequalities within the sector. Clennon also draws attention to some of the theoretical discourse around Power and how it is mediated, using Foucault, Bourdieu, Althusser and others as a means of underpinning his summary of some of the ideological and philosophical challenges BAME communities can encounter whilst trying to navigate the UK’s education system.
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Alternative Education and Community Engagement: Making Education a Priority
Pre published copy
Chapter 1
Making Education a Priority: An Overview
by
Ornette D Clennon
Community Reflections on Education
In our Public engagement work, we find that members of our local communities
seem to be keen to highlight issues around BAME representation in Education.
Culture and identity are recurring themes in our community meetings with frequent
suggestions for improving BAME attainment such as looking at the “African heritage
contribution to history, science and medicine” in curriculum teaching. Many
members of our local communities tell us that for them, ‘culture and identity’ are key
points in examining the “long term effects of bad education or mis-education of
African Caribbean children” and as a Higher Education sector, we need to look at
“how many nursery teachers, teachers and lecturers are prepared to be able to teach
in a multicultural society”. Since Manchester Metropolitan University is a teacher
training university, the curricula implications of this question seem for us rather
apposite. In terms of another institutional link to a perceived “mis-education of
African Caribbean children”, the larger question about what “actions the government
will take to secure/effect improved outcomes for BAME groups in education” is also
often asked. This question leads us to ask ourselves if communities think that we, as
a university have (or indeed want to have) influence over these bigger political
questions? These thoughts are really quite provocative from an institutional
perspective, as they encourage us, Manchester Metropolitan University, to look
inwards to contemplate our ethos and our pedagogic infrastructures and whether
they truly allow us to honestly reflect on the ways we prepare our teachers to “teach
in a multicultural society” and whether we are prepared to actively campaign and
challenge the government in terms of its “actions [it] will take to secure/effect
improved outcomes for BAME groups in education” (Manchester Metropolitan
University, 2013, para. 2). Indeed, if we have already mounted such campaigns, are
we prepared to review our strategies on how we can effectively coordinate our
campaigns with our local communities and organisations?
2
Our Public Engagement work in Education points towards the need for communities
to be supported in organising themselves so that they can employ “strategies for
helping parents to improve their children’s attainment” (Manchester Metropolitan
University, 2013, para. 3) and develop “approaches for getting parents more actively
involved and influencing their child’s school provision” (para. 3). Our work in
engaging with our communities needs to actively look at ways we can facilitate the
building of their social and economic capital. The communities have been very clear
about the help and support they need from us as a university. The challenge remains,
as ever, how we can best meet those needs within the inevitable restrictions we
ourselves have to work within. This chapter will unpack some of these common
concerns voiced by many of our community partners.
Culture of Low Expectations
Abbott (2013a, p. 4) suggests that BAME and (white) working class children suffer
from the same
...narrative and analysis about black and minority children in education which
would suggest or would infer that the failure is with them
i
…..[with] their youth
culture….their community; which is not interested in education, the failure lies
with them, it is personal and cultural failure.
This narrative also seems to be echoed policy makers
Children living in deprived communities face a cultural barrier which is in
many ways a bigger barrier than material poverty. It is the cultural barrier of
low aspirations and scepticism about education, the feeling that education is
by and for other people, and likely to let one down. (DCSF, 2009, p. 2)
This is a very interesting use of language from the DCSF (Department for Children
School and Families) because it reveals a hidden narrative where Culture is indeed a
site of contestation and Power. Questions around; to whose culture does the barrier
belong? Are we talking about immigrant cultures? Are we talking about institutional
cultures? How are these cultures mediated in their respective locations? How is
Power (control) mediated through these cultures? These provocative questions seem
to lie at the heart of the mainstream discourse about education but they remain
unaddressed because there seems to be a focus on the superficial signifiers of
cultural heritage that belies a tokenistic view of “multiculturalism”
ii
. Abbott (2013a, p.
8) recognises an institutionalised exploration of cultural heritage (tokenistic
multiculturalism) that takes BAME students “ultimately…no-where”. In this
mainstream cultural narrative, students are allowed to revel in their “steel bands” and
“samosas” but they do not seem to be encouraged to explore some of the more
authentic (and life changing) aspects of their cultural heritage that value education
and high academic aspirations. To give a background to these deeper aspects of
Afro-Caribbean cultural heritage, Abbott, (2013a, p. 2) outlined the educational
aspirations of the first Caribbean immigrants to the UK, where they “believed as an
article of faith that for
their
children and for
their
grandchildren [life] would be
better” with a good education and where many Caribbean immigrants who were
3
educated in rudimentary rural facilities, upon leaving school at 14 yrs. could
nevertheless read and write and even recite the Romance poetry of Keats (as
opposed to some British 11 year old BAME children, many of whom are unable to
read and write).
Abbott (2013a) intimates that in relation to the institutional academic expectations
of BAME students, a collective amnesia of their Colonial educational heritage seems
to have been enacted by large sections of the education profession, as characterised
by Abbott’s observation of, “an underestimate of where they [in terms of their
cultural heritage] come from” (p. 6). This is significant as multiculturalism (seemingly
the only
generic
conceptual framework available within which to discuss alternative
cultural narratives and their manifest signifiers
iii
) in education seems only to want to
cherry pick the superficial aspects of culture as signified by the “steel bands” and
“samosas” without trying to understand the deeper, underlying and inherent cultural
frameworks from which these elements come (which especially include complex
Colonial narratives around education
iv
). Abbott (2013a) notes that although the
celebration of cultural signifiers have their place in a curriculum, undue focus on
them does not empower subjects (students, in this case) because schools, as Abbott
(2013a, p. 8) says “cannot tell me the GCSE levels of those children and how many of
them go onto Higher Education”. So this institutional acknowledgement of culture
actually serves to [take] our children into a wholly separate track, which ultimately
takes them no-where” (p. 8). It is this “normalisation”
v
effect of Power that needs to
be challenged because, if left unchecked, it will remain freely able to attest its
acknowledgement of cultural heritage in the curriculum, without actually doing so in
a way that empowers (in fact, it actively disempowers certain cohorts of it subjects), it
will remain able to ask why there is a lack of engagement in education by the
communities, then it will remain able to hold communities responsible by ascribing
to them to the erection of “cultural barriers”. When the discourse is re-positioned in
this context, Abbott’s (2013a, p. 4) contestation that “the education system has failed
our children” begins to have a deeper resonance, where she implicitly locates the
“cultural barrier” as having been erected by the institution itself, as it appears to
excise any complexity and acknowledgement of (academic) aspiration from the
notion of BAME cultural heritage
vi
. This will tend to result in communities indeed not
wanting to engage with this disempowering form of multiculturalism that takes their
children “ultimately nowhere”
vii
, as mentioned earlier in Community Reflections.
However, when disaggregating analyses of cultural barriers for BAME and white
working class children, interestingly, Demie & Lewis (2010) imply that the latter
group suffers from low achievement because of a loss of “white culture” in
comparison to other ethnic groups, although Nayak (2001) challenges the
homogenous concept of “white culture”, as ethnicity and culture are malleable
discursive articulations
viii
that are prone to fluctuation and nuance, Demie & Lewis
(2010) do point towards an acknowledgement of the need for the building of cultural
resilience and a knowledge of cultural heritage in order to improve white working
class students academic achievement, curiously, in a way that does not necessarily
seem to be recognised for those with BAME heritages (unless “steel bands” and
“samosas” are deemed sufficient for building cultural resilience and improving
academic standards!)
ix
. Abbott (2013a) agrees with other researchers who say that
issues around structural and institutional inequalities are more significant than so
4
called community-erected “cultural barriers” (Rose, 1999; Gerwitz, 2001; Francis &
Hey, 2009; Reay, 2009).
x
Bauman (2005) goes further to suggest that within a neo-
liberal society individuals are positioned within economic frameworks that require
them to display entrepreneurial citizenship (as defined by a ‘cultural norm’). This
means if individuals do not seem to fit into an institutional and meritocratic
xi
work
ethic consisting of talent combined with hard work, then they are automatically
seen as being undeserving or as having a cultural deficit.
xii
So, if this “normalisation” of Power, as described above, is left unchecked for
everyone
who is disadvantaged by this “culture of low expectations”, then schools
will continue to fall short of their 2006 statutory duty to promote community
cohesion which requires them to consider how wider links with the community
contribute to pupils’ development in these areas.” (GOV.UK, 2011), which means that
Abbott’s (2013a, p. 7) characterisation of the institutional position, how can we as
teachers and higher education institutions be expected to counteract all the [social
and community] problems….?” is all the more worrying because schools (and to a
lesser extent Higher Education institutions through their Widening Participation
agenda
xiii
) have a specific statutory duty to consider just that:
how
education can
indeed counteract all the [social and community] problems by effectively
connecting with their communities. This issue of agency
xiv
is discussed below.
Community Action
But I also have a message for the community and the message is this; that no-
one in society is going to give you anything. You have to come together to
take it and as you come together to take it, the point is not that you are
begging charity. The point is not that you are begging people to be kind and
Christian to you. The point is that you are asking for
justice
. (Abbott, 2013a, p.
9)
Abbott’s point, above, is intriguing in the context of programmes run by the
government and charities to address this issue of “low expectation”. In Perry &
Francis (2010) review, they found that the interventions that they studied, were built
on the ‘deficit’ model where it was implicit that the individual
lacked
high aspirations
and had a “culture of low expectations”. In their study, they found that such
programmes tended to ignore the structural inequalities in mainstream education
provision in favour of providing enrichment activities that were meant to ‘lift’ the
individual. They report that these programmes had limited success because of their
‘deficit’ model design, where the knowledge and the experience of the individuals
participating in these programmes were often ignored. They found this especially of
the various mentoring schemes they studied. Dyson, et al. (2010) argue that
interventions should focus not only on individuals but on communities and
moreover, interventions should concentrate on the resources communities already
possess rather than focussing on what is perceived that they lack.
Facer (2009) reports on the RSA’s (Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts,
Manufactures and Commerce) Area-based Curriculum programme for Manchester,
which was designed to look at how a school curriculum could be co-designed by the
5
school, the pupils and the local Manchester communities. This initiative attempted to
bring together local (Manchester based) and pedagogical ‘knowledges’ via the
building of relationships between various stakeholders, to form a curriculum that was
relevant to the pupils in those schools in the Manchester areas
xv
. However, for some
of the participating schools, Facer (2009, p. 54) noted that they had difficulties in
really achieving this level of multi-stakeholder collaboration, as one teacher said,
Team teaching is a real skill that people underestimate. Team planning and team
teaching takes a long time to learn” implying that the underlying structural
organisation in their school did not easily facilitate this ambition. This challenge in
adapting school organisational structures to allow for genuine “team teaching” had
the knock on effect of limiting the efficacy of the collaborative knowledge
generation needed in the process of building external relationships. A key point
highlighting this challenge was:
I suppose, at the beginning, I thought there was going to be some support, a
bit more, coming from the RSA which was like, saying ‘well, we’ve actually got
this person who can offer this, and that person who can offer that, and we’ll
make the contact with them, or we’ll introduce you’ so that we haven’t got to
get on the phone and explain what the project is and go through the whole
thing. They’re already primed and they’re interested in it, and they want to be
a partner because there isn’t really time for me to go knocking on doors […] I
think it would be helpful to have somebody like that who coordinated for the
city and knew that there were all these people in the city who were willing to
offer things. (pp. 77-78)
The quote above is very interesting because, as it implies from a school’s point of
view, that relationships with communities are mostly built on the provision of
services from the community that can enrich the school’s curriculum. However, this
transactional view of community relationship building where the cultural
product/service is a commodity to be traded does not build social or cultural
capital
xvi
in the communities participating in the trade and tends not to promote
any meaningful or reciprocal dialogue (or exchange of knowledge) between the
school and its surrounding communities (it begs the question as to why parents were
not
explicitly
involved as external community contacts) as illustrated (p. 20):
Teacher 1: This is one of the most deprived wards in Europe. There is huge,
huge it’s quite shocking, the level of poverty, because you don’t see it
because it’s not totally in your face…but go in the doors and there’s no
furniture and no wallpaper and there’s no food in the cupboards and there’s a
huge amount of neglect and domestic violence.
Teacher 2: And alcohol abuse, drug abuse, teenage pregnancy […] So getting
£2.50 for the bus into town.
Teacher 1: They can’t find £2.50 to feed their kids.
Teacher 2: They do go to Manchester and go to Primark but they don’t go
to the Museum of Science and Industry, they don’t go to Albert Square or St
Anne’s Square, or The Royal Exchange or the Library Theatre.
6
Teacher 1: I’m not sure that I do either. You have to have a reason for wanting
to do it.
Teacher 2: Yes, but you would and you wouldn’t feel intimidated by it. I think
the parents and the kids here probably would. Wouldn’t they?
As this was a Area-based Curriculum programme for Manchester, the comments
above underlie the huge structural inequalities in certain communities, where some
participating students lived. The comments above also highlighted the need to
address these issues through genuine grass roots partnership between the schools
and the communities (via
parents!
) rather than a top down model where, “the idea of
Manchester as [being] ‘their city’” is “taken for granted by policy makers and think
tanks”, in a way “that might be far from familiar to the students in these schools”
(Facer, 2009, p. 20).
So, in the context of various government and charity-run “Raising Aspirations”
programmes, Abbott’s (2013a, p. 9) message to the community, that no-one in
society is going to give you anything. You have to come together to take it is
extremely important. Abbott stresses the need for communities to think strategically
about their own educational needs and the resulting impact on their communities’
social and cultural infrastructures and the need to articulate their strategies clearly to
their local educational institutions. In this way, there would be a greater chance of
success where grass roots partnerships between schools and communities (via the
parents
) would be built on equity and mutual benefit rather than a prescribed
transactional model of “Raising Aspirations” built on a perceived community deficit.
Abbott (2013a, p. 8) locates a possible focal point for the communities’ (education)
strategizing and articulation in the Saturday School Movement
xvii
:
One of the key things about it was that it involved
parents
, it involved the
community
and it acted both to anchor those children in their
culture
and a
sense of pride but also to make sure that they achieved the
core academic
skills
they needed... [italics added]
Abbott suggests that schools (including government agencies or charities) cannot
work alone to address the educational needs of their children without credible input
from their local community agencies, as represented by the parents. However,
Abbott also strongly calls on Saturday schools to act as those local parent-led
community agencies and to directly seek to enter into partnerships with their local
schools and through sustained partnership-working achieve “justice” for their
children by assisting the schools in providing the appropriate education to meet
their children’s academic and cultural needs
xviii
.
7
Changing the Ideological Landscape in our Schools and Classrooms
Abbott (2013b) expands on what she calls a “Culture of Low Expectations” by
suggesting that this ‘culture’ can be resisted by Parental Input, Countering
Institutional Stereotyping, The Monitoring of BAME Achievement and The
Recruitment of Black Male Teachers. I will discuss each of Abbott’s (2013b) points in
turn.
Parental Input
Harris & Goodall (2007) identify two important aspects of parent input; parental
involvement and parental engagement, although they acknowledge that the
distinction between the two is not always clear, they characterise them as follows.
Parental involvement usually includes strategies that encourage parents to be
involved with the school i.e. attending PTA meetings. In their study, they examine
School-based strategies such as “Personalising provision for parents as learners” (p.
33) which often entail holding lifelong learning classes for parents in areas such as
literacy, ICT or cookery (as a means of encouraging a positive parent change in
attitude towards education), “Supporting parents to help their children learn” (p. 33)
where parents are given assistance in understanding key areas of the curriculum,
“iReporting(p. 33) where parents are kept up to date with their childrens progress
via text message or email and “Enhancing Pastoral care” (p. 33) where dedicated staff
or projects focus on parental involvement, often acting as bridging mechanism for
parents “usually missed in broader parental engagement programmes” (p. 34).
However, Harris & Goodall (2007) contrast parental involvement with parental
engagement as being involved in their children’s learning rather than with the school
per se. This seems to be a more challenging concept, as it entails working with
attitudes around valuing education, moral support and ‘achievement and behaviour’.
They describe valuing education as parents actively taking an interest in their
children’s progress at school (reading school reports, attending PTA meetings, etc.),
moral support where parents model their valuing of education to their children and
actively encourage them, very often in the area of homework and independent
learning (this was seen as the most important element to the children in their study)
and achievement and behaviour, where parents re-enforce sanctions at home that
have been enacted by the school (children in the study valued this aspect of support,
as they recognised that their own challenging behaviour often had an adverse effect
on their achievement and thought that their behaviour and in turn their
achievements could have been improved with parental support in this area). As these
elements involve the domestic, out-of-school lives of the families, they are harder for
schools to work with. Sacker, et al. (2002) found that the parents’ personal
experience and level of education often affected their perceptions of education
whilst Lupton (2006) observed that parents who have had challenging experiences of
education themselves, do value education but see it as something that happens in
the school not in the home. So trying to effect change in home environments for
some parents, remains a challenge, even though some schools are making attempts
with their programmes such as Personalising provision for parents as learnersthat
are designed to help change attitudes towards education.
8
However, Harris & Goodall (2007) note that many of these parental involvement
initiatives take place within an uneven power dynamic between parents and the
schools. Often these projects take place on school premises (which themselves can
be intimidating for some parents, especially secondary schools) at set times which
are mostly convenient to the school but not always for parents. They report that
although these programmes are set up to remove barriers for parental involvement,
they can inadvertently create more barriers, as the initiatives are designed on a
‘deficit’ model. Abbott (2013b) writes that such parental up-skilling is indeed needed
but she thinks that community organisations are probably better suited to this task.
In fact, Harris & Goodall (2007, p. 69) say “Parents should be proactive and form their
own support networks and reference groups”.
Here, Abbott’s (2013a) point from Community Action that schools need to liaise
more widely with parent-led community organisations, such as Saturday Schools,
becomes key because Desforges & Abouchaar (2003, p. 88) write “the link between
getting parents in a position to be pro-schooling and getting children to make a
quantum leap in achievement is missing”. Raffaele & Knoff (1999) go further to say
that progress in this area will not be made unless there is a whole community
approach to parental involvement/engagement that is clearly linked to the school’s
teaching and learning strategy. Kreider (2000) expands on this by writing that
parental involvement needs to be integrated into the school’s development plan and
implemented by an action team, consisting of teachers and community members. In
this way, initiatives will be able to be developed at a grass roots level utilising the
resources from within the community to form a partnership of equity and mutual
learning between the school and parents, as was suggested in Community Action.
Countering Institutional Stereotyping
A brief look at Britain’s evolving attitudes towards ethnicity and Multiculturalism
(through to community cohesion) will contextualise the apparent phenomenon of
institutional stereotyping in our classrooms. Although Finney & Simpson (2009) write
that 2001 with the terrorist attacks in the US and the urban disturbances in the UK
“changed the national and international terrain for thinking about integration,
segregation, migration and multiculturalism, Mirza (2005, p. 111) writes, “the more
things change, the more they stay the same” in regards to race (and culture) being a
central issue in the education of minorities. Mirza implies that there has been a pre-
eminence of the concept of ‘Whiteness’ as a dominant discourse which leaves other
forms of discourse and narratives to be seen in terms of conceptual ‘deficit’-
frameworks. Gilroy (2005, p. 434) explains the occurrence of this dominant discourse
as a “melancholic
xix
attachment to its [Britain’s] vanished pre-eminence”. Here, Gilroy
writes that this attachment to a Colonial past acts as a prism through which to view
race, culture and history and this prism has enabled a revisionist view of British
history to come into being, which he says has been propagated by popular (TV)
historians. Gilroy argues that this has been a worrying trend in the discourse about
race and culture because it erodes the, “political significance of racism as an
independent issue that requires theoretical consideration beyond economic
reduction or the assertion of general theories of ideology” (p. 431) whilst at the same
time, “repairing that aching loss” that “is usually signified by the recovery or
9
preservation of endangered whiteness (Gilroy, 2004, p. 95). Gilroy attributes this
‘melancholia’ to the appearance of a soft nationalism, where changing national
identities are constantly examined without actually addressing the inherent
structures of racism that lie therein. However, Gillborn (2005) makes the important
observation that the insidious nature of racism is generally understood but it is
minimised (or denied) in two ways; by its embodiment at the level of the ‘individual’
and temporally as a ‘fleeting’ aberration; neither characterisation acknowledging the
pervasive structural nature of racism that permeates all aspects of everyday life
(Delgado & Stefancic, 2001; Taylor, 2009). This fleeting, individually aberrant
characterisation of racism that can only be acknowledged as a ‘fixed’ concept, does
not allow for discussion of a form of racism which adapts to societal developments
and is subtle and malleable in form. Mirza (2009) calls this inability to examine the
subtle, malleable and structural effects of racism as a new type of racism where these
structural effects of discrimination are transformed into or transferred across to
cultural, religious (in terms of difference) or national ‘failures’ of ethnic minorities at
a pathological level. Since as Abbott (2013a) characterised in Culture of low
Expectations that the discourse around discrimination is embodied at the level of the
individual (rather than the structural), racism is then marginalised within important
debates on immigration and the integration of ethnic minorities, (Gillborn, 2004)
Mirza (2010) sees this concept of racism, where the ‘voice’ of ethnic minorities
continues to be marginalised in different and
evolving
ways, as having gone through
three distinct but overlapping periods: Assimilation, Multiculturalism and Community
Cohesion.
Assimilation
Mirza (2010) locates this period as being epitomised by Powell’s (2007 [1968])
Rivers
of Blood speech,
which seemed to express a national fear of the ordinary White
citizen being overrun by immigrants leading to ‘rivers of blood’. The largely Afro-
Caribbean (West Indian) and Asian immigrants at the time were deemed culturally,
socially and intellectually inferior, coming from uncivilized parts of the world” (p. 12).
So in order to aid smoother integration into British society it was thought necessary
for the immigrants to let go of their own cultural traits and to adopt a working class
Britishness
xx
. As stated elsewhere
xxi
, race and class were pegged closely at this point,
even if imperfectly. However, this conflagration of race and class was taken further
when the DES (Department for Education and Science) “decided to subsume the
problems of immigrant minorities under those of the disadvantaged, and minimise
any special help given to minorities (Tomlinson, 2008, p. 67), after Margaret
Thatcher’s concerns that the British people were “really afraid that this country might
be swamped by people of a different culture (Socialist Worker, 2002) in her
important speech in 1978 arguably led to her parliamentary victory a year later.
Troyna (1992) suggests that this policy conflagration stripped away the specific
importance of race to multicultural education.
Multiculturalism
10
In the eighties and nineties, there was an explosion of multicultural policies which
promoted “tolerance, respect and an acceptance of collective identities (Vertovec,
2007, p. 1027).
This has been undertaken through supporting community associations and
their cultural activities, monitoring diversity in the workplace, encouraging
positive images in the media and other public spaces, and modifying public
services (including education, health, policing and courts) in order to
accommodate culture-based differences of value, language and social
practice. (p. 1027)
This heightened visibility had a profound effect on the discourse around race where
a cultural relativism developed
xxii
. However, Vertovec (2007) observed that the
multicultural discourse was centred largely on Afro-Caribbean and Asian cultures but
other less visible cultures or ethnic groups were not given equal promotion. This was
very much a form institutionalised
xxiii
multi-ethnic acceptance, which served to turn
the discourse into a biracial, black and white dichotomy, ignoring other forms of
ethnicities and identities (e.g. religious). This Foucaldian mediation of Power meant
that it became easier to compartmentalise the multi ethnic discourse in terms of
black and white, where black always remained in the realms of the “exotic Otherto
be displayed and celebrated (via the now clichéd samosas, saris and steel bands) at
the expense of examining the structured inequalities that allowed the exotic
“Othering” to continue (Gillborn, 2004). Meanwhile, whilst this display of multicultural
acceptance was being paraded in popular discourse and culture, Conservative
neoliberal reforms were quietly introduced to the standards and management of
education, heralding the marketization of education
xxiv
. This process became known
as New Public Management (NPM) (Archer & Francis, 2007), characterised by a
colour-blind discourse on individualisation, standards and management, where
policymakers who had framed their policies along these lines had deliberately
eschewed overt reference to racial descriptions, evaluations and prescriptions in
preference to apparently more legitimate educational imperatives (Troyna, 1987, p.
309). This had a profound effect on the ability to monitor and set targets for BAME
achievement, of which Abbott (2013a); Abbott (2013b) is an advocate. This will be
discussed in more detail, later.
Since Multiculturalism as a concept with agency
xxv
was losing currency amongst
those dedicated to naming and resisting racism through deconstruction and
reconstruction, Anti-Racism was adopted by left leaning thinkers and activists to
continue to do just that. However, what I find surprising about the erosion of
multiculturalism is the fact that during this period, land mark and far reaching public
inquiries were led whose reports
still
help to shape our discourse around racism and
structural inequalities. In the context of the apparently benign, impartial and all-
powerful ‘Institutions’ that ruled our lives with Foucauldian ‘juridical’ and ‘discipline
powers
xxvi
, imagine the ‘shock’ when in the light of the Brixton riots (Scarman, 1981)
admits that “racialism and discrimination against black people was often hidden,
sometimes unconscious (Para. 6.35, p. 110); moving towards a less fixed, less overt
and more malleable notion of racism. Scarman went on to say that this type of
“hidden” discrimination was most keenly felt in housing, education and employment
and even hinted at the possibility of the police having been in danger of pursuing
11
discriminatory behaviour. This wide ranging recognition of the structural nature of
racism and its pernicious and “hidden” effects was virtually unheard of until then,
although crucially, perhaps, acting as a rear guard action, this was not specifically
targeted at the police at this time (the focus of his report). We would have to wait for
another eighteen years before this particular nettle would be grasped in another
ground breaking report.
For an even more direct acknowledgment of the need to focus more public attention
on BAME underachievement (flying in the face of a de-racialised New Public
Management programme in education) the reports by Rampton (1981) and Swann
(1985) were very important for specifically recognising racism towards and the
stereotyping of black students. Swann (1985, p. xix)
The Committee believes that only a very small minority of teachers could be
said to be racist in the commonly accepted sense. However it claims that a
teacher's attitude towards, and expectations of, West Indian pupils may be
subconsciously influenced by stereotyped, negative or patronising views of
their abilities and potential, which may prove a self-fulfilling prophecy, and
can be seen as a form of 'unintentional racism'. (Chapter 2)
Although the above recognises the need for changes it still ascribes to the
individualisation and fleetingly aberrant model of racism discussed earlier. It is not
until McPherson (1999) that we see a move away from the ‘individualised’ and
‘fleeting’ notion of racism to a
structural
, endemic and
chronic
recognition of the
phenomenon:
6.4 Racism in general terms consists of conduct or words or practices which
disadvantage or advantage people because of their colour, culture, or ethnic
origin. In its more subtle form it is as damaging as in its overt form.
6.5 We have been concerned with the more subtle and much discussed
concept of racism referred to as institutional racism which (in the words of Dr
Robin Oakley) can influence police service delivery
"not solely through the
deliberate actions of a small number of bigoted individuals, but through a
more systematic tendency that could unconsciously influence police
performance generally"
. (Chapter 6 original italics).
McPherson (1999), in his report deliberately refers to and builds upon Scarmans
concept of a racism that is “hidden and sometimes unconscious” but deliberately
contradicts his refusal to move away from the “rotten apple” (Para. 6.14) explanation
of racism in the police force. This was a landmark acknowledgement of the
possibility that an institution could be malevolent, whose power could be used for ill
against its subjects. The public recognition of “Institutional Racism”, which was the
culmination of a progressive cultural ‘outing’ of our Institutions’ structural
inequalities, for the first time named and added this elusive, unnameable but malign
effect of Power
xxvii
to the lexicon of public discourse on racism and discrimination.
Such was the impact of this public realisation that Institutions could actually
be
racist
(as opposed to just the individuals within the institution) that McPherson’s
recommendations for education, that consideration be given to amendment of the
National Curriculum aimed at valuing cultural diversity and preventing racism, in
12
order better to reflect the needs of a diverse society” (Chapter 47, Para. 67) and for
OFSTED to inspect the results of these amendments could possibly be seen as the
heralding of the new age of “Community Cohesion” (more specifically the 2006
Community Cohesion act that put a statutory obligation on schools to promote
community cohesion (GOV.UK, 2011)).
Community Cohesion
With the US and London terrorist attacks in 2001 and 2005 respectively and the
unrelated Oldham, Harehills and Bradford riots in the North of England in 2001 all
involving the perception of Muslim ill-treatment, the idea of a multiculturalism that
promoted division (perhaps tacitly regarded as an over-celebration of diversity that
led to self-imposed segregation) became a popular idea, summed up by the,
feelings of public outrage and disbelief that young British Muslims could feel so
alienated from mainstream society that they could engage in acts of terrorism
against their fellow citizens” (Cremin & Warwick, 2008, p. 36). So ideas around race,
ethnicity and religion became subsumed into a concept of “community” where there
was “a veritable return to assimilationist ideals through the construction of need for
greater integration and social solidarity” (Mirza, 2010, p. 15). Despite all the anti-
discrimination measures at this time including the 2006 statutory duty to promote
community cohesion for schools, where (amongst other things) teachers are
supposed to consider how the
ethnicity
of their pupils can contribute to greater
achievement in the classroom (GOV.UK, 2011), Foucault’s description of the
‘discipline’-power of an institution becomes a salient notion in this context. Foucault
describes the situation where the ‘discipline’ not only has the power to set norms
that are internalised by its subjects but it also is able to create new “knowledges” and
functions (and functionaries) that enable it to sustain itself (on its own terms). Mirza
(2005, p. 115) recognises this phenomenon of (institutional) power as “an
institutional paper trail, unable to translate to hearts and minds”. This inability to
“translate [structural
and
chronic anti-discriminatory practice] to hearts and minds”
within this new assimilationist paradigm is illustrated in the classroom when
discussing the stereotyping of BAME and Black Caribbean boys specifically, where
there is a “teacher perception as well as “popular discourses that underpin ‘black
masculinity’” that show evidence of an acceptance of cultural and ethnic
essentialism.” (Sewell, 1998, p. 111). Here, Abbott’s (2013b, p. 1) plea that “teachers
have to leave behind some of their stereotypes about what black children are
capable of and not capable of” is directly addressed by Sewell with his term “cultural
and ethnic essentialism”. Sewell is describing a “they-are-all-the-same (so mustn’t be
treated as individuals)” ethos that leads to an institutional stereotyping of these
students in the classroom, where teachers can often overreact to perceived threats
and challenges and where they underestimate their potential and capacity for
achievement (Crozier, 2005; Wright, et al., 1998)
The Monitoring of BAME Achievement
Before discussing how BAME achievement is monitored, the previously mentioned
New Public Management (NPM) framework and its context needs to be briefly
outlined. Although the “NPM is too often treated as a coherent whole of global
significance and force” (Clarke, Gewirtz, & McLaughlin, 2000, p. 7), as it is interpreted
13
differently around the world, I propose that we think about a generic NPM that
possibly operates like a type of ‘state apparatus’
xxviii
. Foucault sees power as a series
of alignment of relationships which share the same interests (i.e. power not focused
in any one place), so would not recognise the direct manifestation of Power through
an apparatus in the way Althusser would (a fuller analysis between these ways of
thinking of Power can be found in the commentary for Free Schools) but a
combination of both frameworks to explore NPM could be useful in this instance.
Cutler & Waine (1998) describe an international political and economic environment
in the 1980s that was driven by the desire to cut costs in public spending and
seemingly reduce the nature of state provision. At this time, the notion of individual
choice as the idea of the ‘consumer’ grew in importance. In the public sector, it
became important for “families” (the new political term of “individuals”) to be able
choose the type of public services they wanted to ‘consume’.
However, in order to manage consumer-expectation, a whole new concept of
organisational thinking had to be developed in order to meet the new consumer
demands. The ideas of “managerialisationand “managers” evolved, where entirely
new organisational processes and jobs were created to manage this new emerging
style of delivering public services. This development was viewed as a
“professionalization” of the delivery of public services. In terms of identifying the
changing nature of Power and its structural inequalities, it would be useful to view
the development of NPM using the concept of Foucauldian “discipline”-Power
xxix
,
where Power is able to set up its own normalisation standards around consumer
choice, more efficient delivery, value for money and competition. Foucault would
also recognise this “discipline” power as being able to generate its own set of
“knowledges” and its own functionaries to administer this set of new generated
“knowledges”, all done as a form of self-legitimisation. In NPM, we have exactly this
Foucauldian framework at play, where a new breed of “managers” and knowledges
around “management” was invented. This Foucauldian view of “discipline”-Power can
be viewed as a description of institutionalisation, where Power is mediated through
an institution. Interestingly, in adopting neoliberal concepts to deliver public services
and constructing a whole new “industry” (i.e. NPM) around it in the process, what
actually happened was that the market, upon which neoliberalism is built, became
“institutionalised”. The very act of bringing the “market” into the realm of public
service provision transformed the “market” (or an aspect of it) into an institution in
its own right (in this setting of the public sector) being able to set its own norms and
generate its own forms of knowledge. This is further emphasised by its relationship
with government. Ironically, on the surface, in the UK, successive governments began
to outsource many of its duties of public service provision to “providers” who not
only have to compete for government contracts to deliver services but also compete
against each other for the custom of not the service-user but the customer. This
apparent decentralisation of now market-driven service delivery was matched by an
equally strong
centralisation
of control and direction by the government, all
facilitated by the NPM model of service provision. So in actual fact, the influence of
the state really increased as it centralised control but whereas in the past it was not
possible to extend its reach in both control
and
delivery, the state employed the
“market” to deliver its aims. In this way, NPM is an outward representation of the
market being used as an Althusserian “state apparatus”. Even the New Labour
version of NPM with its emphasis on partnerships and stakeholders followed this
14
underlying thinking. In education, this dual control of centralisation and
decentralisation can be seen with the National Curriculum and the proliferation of
‘self-managed’ schools (competing in an education-market). This marketization of
education is important because neoliberalism has been recognised to be at best,
ambivalent towards inequality or at worst, active in promoting it (Coburn, 2004). The
quality of capitalism that could be thought to promote inequality is its need for
‘deficit’ in order to generate a supply and this can be seen to be facilitated by;
suppressing the rights of commons
xxx
, commodifying labour, suppressing all non-
capitalist forms of production and consumption, appropriating assets, monetising
exchange and taxation and initiating credit systems (Harvey, 2003; Harvey, 2005)
xxxi
.
In education, in the context of monitoring BAME achievement, the monetising of
exchange could be viewed as a crucial factor. In this monetising process, the need for
incentivisation becomes a factor. An example of this is, if a school is not directly
incentivised by the possibility of a greater allotment of funding (in NPM-speak; a
reward for achieving a performance indicator-target) for closely monitoring and as a
result, setting targets for BAME achievement, then it simply will not be done in any
committed way, as Abbott has previously noted elsewhere
Even if schools are made to keep data, unless they know that the figures will
be made public and used, it is in their interests, particularly those of schools
that are failing our children, to keep them in all sorts of higgledy-piggledy
ways so that no one can drill down and see what is happening to the children.
(Hansard, 2012)
So despite the huge volume of pupil-data that is collected by the School Census
about their free school meal eligibility, ethnicity, special educational needs (SEN),
attendance and exclusions” and also information about the schools themselves,
such as their educational provision” (Department for Education, 2013), in conjunction
with the National Pupil Database which collects data about individual pupils’
attainment throughout their whole time in study (Department of Education, 2013), it
seems very questionable as to why national, regional or even school targets for
BAME achievement are not being set with this enormous amount of data. Tomlin &
Olusola (2006) write about successful BAME projects that were designed to monitor
and raise BAME achievement in four schools (two primary schools and two secondary
schools) in Birmingham and London. However, even though the schools’
programmes “adhere[d] to equality and inclusive policies reflected in their practices -
evidenced by the positive comments outlined in the recent respective OFSTED
reports” (p. 13), the sustainability of these projects was hard to discern, especially as
there was not any mention of any Local Authority support of these project in the
long term. However, these initiatives did show that when sufficient time and
resources were directed towards the setting and meeting of BAME achievement
targets (and utilising parental input and challenging institutional stereotyping, as
they also did), BAME academic achievement increased. Unfortunately, it does seem
to be the case that unless there is a specific interest from a school to undergo this
process, without local authority or state support/incentive this will not be a
widespread practice.
15
The Recruitment of Black Male Teachers
Abbott’s (2013b) call for more black, male teachers at first hearing sounds possibly
controversial especially in the context of the popularity and mixed success of past
Black, Male Mentoring schemes such as REACH in 2007. However, her added
statement adds clarity to the direction of her thinking:
Because very often you can have skilled teachers who lack cultural literacy and
the point about having more black teachers in the classroom is not that only
black teachers can teach black children because that’s clearly absurd but that
if you have a significant number of black teachers in the classroom that helps
to aid cultural literacy of the entire workforce in a school. (p. 2)
It is important to acknowledge that it is indeed correct to say, “not…only black
teachers can teach black children” because this leads us to the sometimes thorny
issue of mentoring. Evans (1988, p. 184) writes that the multiculturalist trend in the
1980s to recruit more black teachers was in part a response to the crisis in … schools
created by the resistance of Black pupils to the racism they encountered”. Black
teachers were “thought to provide good role models” and were considered to be
“better able to handle Black pupils”. The persistent underachievement of BAME boys
in particular led REACH (2007) to conclude that there needed to be a closer gender
and ethnic match to the BAME boys. REACH (2007, p. 22) recommended a national
role model programme where it defined a role model as, “someone you look up to
and respect and someone who impacts your life in a positive way”. It was intended
that this role model would be able to counter media driven negative stereotypes and
inspire young black men to achieve. However, controversially, the programme also
sought to “compensate” for “being brought up in single parent households with an
absence of male role models within the family” (REACH, 2007, p. 22).
The main flaw with this programme was that it was built on a ‘deficit’ model, as
discussed earlier, where it assumes that BAME boys and their communities were
missing “something” that needed to be added or provided from a top down
administered programme. As discussed earlier on, the importance of parental input
and as a natural extension, whole-community (not just individuals but grass roots
community organisations) input seemed to be missing from this thinking. Ironically,
even though REACH wanted to negate stereotyping in the classroom, by assuming
that all BAME boys would respond to a “role model” and that black teachers would
want to assume the role is in itself a stereotype (or at least a major presumption).
Hidden in this institutional attempt at raising BAME aspiration via the “role model” is
the preconceived notion of what a black, male role model looks like. As with other
institutional programmes, matters of control become important. A national BAME
black, male role model programme pre-supposes that there is a ‘right’ and ‘wrong’
way of being black and male. This juridical
xxxii
use of power, as Foucault would
recognise it, is actually destructive because of the
punitive
power it wields when
“rewarding” submission (‘right’ being rewarded/merited) or resistance (‘wrong’ being
punished). Even in rewarding “right” with merit, this can only happen in the context
16
(or fear) of punishment, (as in, the background possibility that it could be found to
be “wrong”). When this manifestation of Power is then transferred to “discipline”-
Power or the Institution, it then assumes the power to create a norm around its self-
defined “right” and “wrong” in the individual who then self-regulates to conform to
these pre-defined boundaries of “right” and “wrong”. When this is applied to
“identity”; to black, male identity, this becomes a dangerous and virulent form of
institutional racism mainly because of its apparently good intentions. In this scenario,
we have a ‘state endorsed’ template of what an acceptable “Black Male” looks
(behaves) like. This could be seen as a pernicious form of state control of a section of
society
xxxiii
that returns us to the original notion that was discussed earlier, of racism
being viewed as the result of an ‘individual’ deficit and not the result of structural
inequalities. Inevitably, this type of thinking detracts from the real issues of structural
and chronic discrimination within the ‘Institution’, taking the ‘Institution’ (in this case,
education) off the hook! In addition to these “hidden” dangers of institutionalised
BAME achievement-raising, Maylor (2009) gives a good account of research that
shows how gender and ethnicity matching seems not to actually provide the returns
on BAME academic achievement initiatives like REACH would have hoped for.
Abbott’s (2013b, p. 2) assertion that enabling existing black teachers to go forward
in management and leadership and perhaps have leadership positions is an
important point because if there were more black teachers in these positions, there
would not need to be an explicit need for “role models” because there would be a
greater chance of there being a cultural change across the whole institution and its
ethos (rather than in pockets of “role model” initiatives).
The following chapters will seek to locate some of these community concerns within
the specific contexts of the educational settings; Free and Studio Schools, Co-
operative Schools, Arts-led Special Schools, Supplementary Schools and using
Alternative Education as Protest.
17
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‘deficit’ model, 4, 8, 16
“hidden” discrimination, 11
“rotten apple”, 12
Abbott, 2, 3, 4, 6, 7, 8, 9, 11, 13, 15, 16, 17,
18
African Caribbean, 1, 25
Afro-Caribbean, 2, 10
Alternative Education as Protest., 17
Althusser, 13
Althusserian, 14
Arts-led Special Schools, 17
Asian cultures, 10
Assimilation, 9
BAME, 1
BAME Achievement, 7, 13
BAME underachievement, 11
Bauman, 4, 18
black and white dichotomy, 10
Black Male Teachers, 7, 15
British Muslims, 12
Britishness, 10
Butler, 18
centralisation
, 14
Coburn, 18
Community Action, 4, 8
Community Cohesion, 9, 12, 19, 21
consumer, 13, 14
Co-operative Schools, 17
cultural change, 17
Culture
, 1, 2, 7, 9
curriculum, 1, 3, 5, 7, 20, 23
Curriculum, 5, 6, 12, 14, 20, 23
Cutler & Waine, 13
DCSF, 2, 19, 21, 25
decentralisation, 14
Delgado & Stefancic, 9
Demie & Lewis, 3, 25
Department for Children School and
Families, 2
Department for Education, 10
Department for Education and Science, 10
Desforges & Abouchaar, 8
discipline, 11, 13, 14, 17
Dyson, et al, 4
ethnicities, 10
exotic Other, 10
Facer, 5, 20
Finney & Simpson, 9
Foucaldian, 10
Foucault, 13, 14, 16, 20
Francis & Hey, 4
Gerwitz, 4, 20
Gillborn, 9, 20, 24
Gilroy, 9, 20, 21
GOV.UK, 19, 21
Gove, 23
grass roots community organisations, 16
Hall, 21
Hansard, 21
Harris & Goodall, 7, 8
Harvey, 15, 21
identities, 9, 10, 22
Ideological Landscape
, 7
incentivisation, 15
individuals, 4, 12, 13, 14, 16
institutional racism, 12, 17
Institutional Racism, 12
institutionalisation, 14
iReporting, 7
juridical, 11, 16
knowledges, 5, 13, 14
Kreider, 8, 22
Low Expectations
, 2, 7
management of education, 11
managerialisation, 14
managers, 14
Manchester Metropolitan University, 1, 2,
18, 22
Margaret Thatcher, 10
market, 14
Maylor, 17, 22
McPherson, 12, 22
Mirza, 9, 10, 13, 22
multiculturalism, 2, 3, 9, 11, 12, 25
Multiculturalism, 8, 9, 10, 11, 18, 24, 25
Muslim ill-treatment, 12
National Pupil Database, 15, 19
Nayak, 3, 22
neoliberal, 10, 14
neoliberalism, 14
25
New Public Management (NPM), 11, 13
NPM, 11, 13, 14, 15
OFSTED, 12, 15
Othering, 10
Ousley, 22
Perry & Francis, 4
Personalising provision, 7, 8
Powell, 10, 23
Power, 2, 3, 4, 10, 12, 13, 14, 16, 18
PTA meetings, 7
public service provision, 14
Raffaele & Knoff, 8
Rampton, 11, 23
REACH, 16, 23
Reay, 4, 23
resistance, 16
role model, 16
Rose, 4, 23
Sacker, et al, 8
samosas, saris and steel bands, 10
Saturday School, 6
Saturday Schools, 8
Scarman, 11, 12, 23
School Census, 15, 19
Sewell, 13, 24
Socialist Worker, 24
special educational needs (SEN), 15
stereotyping of black students, 11
Studio Schools, 17
Supplementary Schools, 17
Supporting parents, 7
Sveinsson, 23, 24
Swann, 11, 24
Taylor, 9, 24
teacher perception, 13
terrorist attacks, 9, 12
Tomlin & Olusola, 15
Tomlinson, 24
Troyna, 10, 24
Vertovec, 10, 24
Worley, 25
Xanthos, 25
i
For example, DCSF (2009) and Demie & Lewis (2010)
ii
Multiculturalism (as a generic concept) in education is a good thing if used in an empowering way
that acknowledges complexity and alternative historical narratives. However, when multiculturalism
is reduced to displaying only the surface signifiers of cultures, the inherent tokenism becomes dis-
incentivising and destructive. This type of tokenism is all the more surprising considering the 2006
Statutory duty to promote community cohesion where
Firstly…..Ofsted will be required to consider the spiritual, moral, social and cultural
development of pupils. This will provide an opportunity, where appropriate, for schools to
demonstrate and inspectors to consider how wider links with the community contribute to
pupils’ development in these areas. Secondly….Inspectors will therefore need to ask
26
themselves whether the school is meeting the needs of, for example, girls and boys, pupils
from different ethnic communities… (GOV.UK, 2011)
iii
Community cohesion, our current conceptual framework, notwithstanding. Xanthos (2004) writes
about a form of “hidden racism” in the UK where “colourblind ideology is already deep seated”.
Xanthos argues that there is an informal policy of assimilation where conforming to a White
(majority culture) mainstream is the norm. This generates a “we’re all the same ethos” (para. 3)
which, as Xanthos argues, makes discussion about racism very difficult to conduct. However, I would
tend to argue that racism is “hidden” but not from an assimilationist point of view, which reminds
me more of the French secular system but from a British multicultural perspective. West (2005)
argues that a cultural relativism, akin to cultural liberalism, where no culture is superior to another,
leads to a rejection of a “judgementalism” that has become taboo. This cultural relativism is said to
guard against “cultural conformity that leads to racism, fascism and totalitarianism” (p. 2). However,
West believes that “hard multiculturalism”, which he characterises as being a state dictat, actually
does more harm than good, as it becomes itself a self-imposed Western value forcibly applied to a
society. West sees “hard multiculturalism” as not just respecting difference but actually promoting
difference, which he believes leads to a cultural divisiveness in communities. This is ideologically
opposed to Xanthos’ assimilationist views but I think more accurately represents the UK. I would say
that this “hard multiculturalism”, as described by West, which is different to a “soft
multiculturalism” adopted at an individual level, where individuals respect each other without the
need for state intervention, is key in generating an environment of hidden racism.
“Hard multiculturalism” has given certain sectors of our society a false sense of security because of
the belief that state intervention is enough to eradicate racism through anti discriminatory
legislation alone.
It's [racism] off those agendas because this government wants it off the agenda. It's off the
agenda because this government has created arrangements such as the Equality and Human
Rights Commission to soften and dampen down overt activities against racism. It's off the
agenda because public institutions in this country believe that, following the 2000 Race
Relations Amendment Act and the struggles we went through to reform and improve the
Race Relations Act following the Inquiry into the murder of Stephen Lawrence, everyone had
done what they had to do by writing their race equality schemes, and that was about it.
(Ousley, 2008, para. 2)
In the quote above, Ousley (2008) writes that “hard multiculturalism” can be used as a smokescreen
behind which to hide. Xanthos describes this smokescreen in terms of (covert) racist attitudes, which
are prohibited in the work place, being overtly replaced by other factors such as personality or
cultural perception. This is a very interesting point, as Xanthos explains that many people from
ethnic minorities are differently perceived to their white counterparts in the workplace and this
difference in perception is invariably a negative and ‘illiberal’ judgement, leading to workplace
discrimination. Xanthos uses the example of a white employee who is direct in their speech as being
perceived as assertive whilst a black employee with the same characteristic is perceived as being
aggressive. This is interesting as these perceptions often take on cultural meta-types and are often
subject to value judgements in the way they are not supposed to be under any culturally relativist
paradigm. So it would appear that hidden racism is the product of a double standard applied to the
ideology of multiculturalism. It is arguable that we have moved beyond multiculturalism as Worley
(2005, p. 484) writes, “the pressure to move ‘beyond multiculturalism’ towards the integration and
cohesion of ‘different’ communities into a (British) whole remains a key concern”. See Changing the
landscape in the Classroom for further discussion.
27
iv
The complex “diaspora experience” (Hall, 1996, p. 448) of BAME immigrants to the UK especially
those from the Caribbean contain important narratives that directly affect notions of education and
aspiration, as during the Colonial days when the UK was considered to the “Mother Country” the
education system in the British Caribbean was built on the English educational system, where
students took the same exams as those in the England and Wales; O and A-Level GCEs (Hickling-
Hudson, 2004).
v
See Chapter 5 c.f. Foucault and Bourdieu
vi
The Gove/Seacole debacle was a very public manifestation of this institutional “agenda”
(Rawlinson, 2013).
vii
The rise of the ‘Saturday School’ (part of the Supplementary school sector) is particularly
important in this context. See Chapter 3.
viii
Issues which change meaning depending on context and association (Hall, 1996; Hall, 1986)
ix
Abbott’s (2013a) observations pose an interesting question about the viability of an arguably
“Eurocentric” education system which fails students with recent European (white British) heritage
because if class (as well as race) is also seen as a ‘cultural’ barrier to education and the complex
intersection between class and race is accepted, then the education system is failing too many
individuals and does not seem to be fit for purpose”, an expression famously coined by John Reid
(Mulholland & Tempest, 2006). Intriguingly, Sveinsson (2009) suggests that the white working class
students are not actually losing out to BAME students but to middle class white students, which
cautions us not to aggregate class and race too closely, as a total mapping across the two is
imperfect. This leads us to ask what the purpose of education actually is. Is it to empower everyone
with critical thinking skills that enables the individual to mount an effective resistance against the
structural inequalities in society? This is a key question because, of those schools who say that their
community cohesion provision (appreciation of cultural heritages) is embedded in their curriculum,
as opposed to just consisting of one-off enrichment activities (Department for Education, 2011, p.
60), there is very little information about the nature of the embedded content, other than such
embedded content is rare for maths and the sciences but more usual for Religious Education (RE)
and the arts. Or is education about “educating” people to accept structural inequalities as the
“norm”? (See Chapters 2, 4 and 5)
x
Both our Free School and Supplementary School models explore Culture and its role as a site of
power. Both of our models describe how foregrounding cultural heritage which is integrated into
academic achievement is having a positive effect on their students. The “culture of low aspiration”
narrative is a powerful illustration of Foucaldian “discipline” and Bourdieu’s habitus” (Chapters 4
and 5), as Abbott (2013a) implies that this cultural view has colonised institutional thinking in ways
that place working class and BAME students at an a priori and “universal” disadvantage (c.f.
Bourdieu’s Universal Subject as discussed in Chapter 3).
xi
Toyama (2011) discusses whether a meritocracy is actually possible within a neo-liberal society.
xii
The idea of a meritocracy within a neo-liberal paradigm has important implications for educational
provision, the Co-operative and Studio School models of educational provision directly provoke
questions about the relationship between education and entrepreneurial citizenship, which
produces ‘self-empowered individuals’ (see Chapter 5).
xiii
HEFCE (2013)
Widening access and improving participation in higher education are a crucial part of our
mission.
Our aim is to promote and provide the opportunity of successful participation in higher
education to everyone who can benefit from it. This is vital for social justice and economic
competitiveness. [Italics my addition]
28
xiv
Meaning how to effect change
xv
This form of Enquiry Based Learning (EBL) underpins much of the Studio Schools’ pedagogy (see
Chapter 5).
xvi
See Chapters 3, 4 and 5
xvii
See Chapter 3
xviii
Part of the Co-operative School model ethos is to work very closely with its local communities as
well as encouraging parental and community school governance. (See Chapter 5).
xix
“Melancholic attachment” is a specific Freudian reference (and later discussed at length by Butler,
(1997)) that describes a state of unrequited love, where the “lover” realises he cannot attain love
from his “object”, so instead of mourning the loss of his “object” (and moving on) he redirects his
love of his “object” towards himself. However, he knows that his self-directed love (narcissism) is
only a pale substitute for the true “object” of his affections, so he becomes melancholic in this
realisation of his loss that he refuses to mourn (or let go of). Even though he cannot attain love from
his “object” and has to supply it to himself, he is still attached to the idea of his unattainable
“object” and this attachment to this idea of this “object” colours everything he sees around him,
sometimes manifesting itself in extreme frustration or even hate. Butler (1997, p. 168) describes this
process of self-directed love as the lover(ego) “turn[ing] back upon it[him]self” and says that the
lover is actually defined by this process and would not exist without his melancholic attachment,
implying that he needs to manufacture this loss (or create the myth!) in order to define his true
identity for himself! This has interesting connotations when this framework is applied to the psyche
of a nation.
xx
It is very interesting that the working classes were ‘chosen’ as a suitable emulation for the newly
arrived immigrants (as opposed to simply creating another class), as this simultaneously confirmed
the working classes’ irretrievably low status (class as destiny? See Chapter 5 about the ‘Hegelian
dialectic’ where perhaps it is the working classes who define their superiors) where although they
were accepted as full members of society, they perhaps were nevertheless still regarded as nearly-
‘uncivilised’, since they were to be equated to these people of “different cultures”! This is perhaps
why class is often erroneously re-positioned to occupy the same political terrain as race a bizarre
double consciousness of discourse where class is used to liberate one group at the expense of
another whilst purporting to share the same ‘benign’ liberation ideologies.
xxi
See Culture of low Expectations.
xxii
See Culture of low Expectations.
xxiii
See Chapter 5.
xxiv
See Chapter 4.
xxv
Generally meaning having the capacity to effect change.
xxvi
See Chapter 5 for further discussion of these types of Foucauldian definition of powers that are
able to judge and decide on punishment for nonconformity as well as force subjects (people) to
internalise this punitive power to self-regulate behaviour (juridical and discipline powers
respectively.
xxvii
A hate that dares speaks its name!
xxviii
See Chapter 5 for Foucault and Althusser.
xxix
See Chapter 5 for Foucault’s other forms of power.
xxx
Public and private property that it considered to be owned by everyone e.g. air, water or the
environment.
xxxi
See Chapter 5 for a further discussion around education in a neoliberal context.
xxxii
See preface for Free Schools for a discussion about Foucault’s juridical power.
xxxiii
Note that REACH operated within the NPM paradigm, where it was a centralised government
controlled programme that was delivered by de-centralised role models or “providers”; who had to
‘compete’ for the contracts (i.e. compete to be recognised (because they were selected by a panel
and “a group of exceptional young men from around the country” (REACH, 2007, p. 7)) as being
29
qualified to be role models; submitting to the state endorsed template of male blackness, in order to
be selected). This is just one example of the structural inequalities that seem to be inherent in a
neoliberal administration of education.
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