Cambridge professor Diane Reay instigates a discussion on the inequalities present in education today
Professor Reay was shocked at the sheer amount of inequality going on in-state school’s throughout the UK after she began working on her book, concerning the educational experiences of children from working-class families.
The research project and subsequent book was a personal project to Reay: she was the oldest of eight children, and spent her youth growing up in a council estate, receiving free meals at school.
Reay stated that she initially went into the research expecting to discover that the English state school system would provide a universal quality of education for all children, with perhaps a few exceptions.
After conducting over 500 interviews with children in various state schools, Reay found herself identifying with children who were deemed “difficult”, or misfit children, comparing them to herself as a young child while she was at school.
However, Reay rapidly saw this was not the case, saying that children from the working-class were receiving less in terms of education than their middle-class counterparts, identical to conditions in the early 20th century when Reay’s father was in school.
Reay wants to get the nation talking about education on a just, equal level
Reay stated that movement for academies and free schools has resulted in a decreased quality of education for children from lower-income families, and increased polarisation and segregation.
Reay revealed her studies had conclusively proven that children in comprehensives consisting primarily of children from working-class families tended to have teachers who were less qualified, with an increased rate of turnover for teachers and generally reduced funding per pupil.
Reay hopes that her book will allow for a nation-wide discussion to prompt changes in schools and universities alike as to providing equal standards of acceptance and education for children and youths of all backgrounds.