The social class gap for educational achievement: a review of the literature


  • Education
  • Adolescence
  • Creativity
  • Curriculum
  • Further education
  • Higher education
  • Schools
  • Skills
  • Teaching
  • Vocational education

Social class remains the strongest predictor of educational achievement in the UK, where the social class gap for educational achievement is one of the most significant in the developed world. This has been identified as a policy concern by all three main political parties, illustrating as it does both the extent of wider social inequality in the UK, and an impediment to meritocracy and social mobility.

Efforts thus far to close the gap have been largely unsuccessful, as this review highlights. What sort of initiatives and approaches, then, might prove more fruitful in addressing working class educational achievement – especially within a climate of cuts which threaten to exacerbate existing inequalities?

This review of the literature seeks to address such questions. It maps social class inequality across educational sectors, and the various government and philanthropic initiatives that have sought to tackle it, and draws from this analysis conclusions and recommendations for the direction of future work.

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Picture of Emma Perry
Emma Perry

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