Education and Social Justice Assignment: Mapping patterns of school segregation

In this assignment you will consider patterns of segregation between state secondary schools in one city. The purpose of the assignment is to allow you to engage with information on the characteristics of schools in order to understand patterns of social and educational inequality. The data in this pack will help you to characterise the schools and map levels of segregation. You will produce a 3000 word report that summarises patterns of segregation between the different schools, considers any implications this might have for social justice and presents one solution that will address any inequalities that you have identified.

Your one solution may be city-wide or may refer to a single school or cluster of schools. In each case you need to support your choice with a strong rationale and reference to empirical literature in the area.

This pack contains the following:

  • an outline of the assignment and the key questions you will need to answer
  • a map of the city with twenty schools, plus other features, highlighted
  • data demonstrating the key social and educational characteristics of each school
  • an outline reading list to support the assignment
  • a glossary of unfamiliar terms

In approaching this assignment you will need consider the extent to which school provision in this city is segregated and offer a solution that might help make it more equitable.

You will need to produce a 3000 word report which identifies patterns of segregation in the city, explores any implications this might have for a fair and equitable school system and offer one suggestion for what might be done about it.

What information do I need?

You only need the information that I have provided to complete the assignment: the map and this information pack. You do not need to use any other data (such as national exam results) nor do you need to find out which city is represented here.

What should my solution look like?

You need to only choose ONE solution. It needs to be an education focused solution. You do not need to worry about the cost of the solution or how it might interact with other, non-education, issues. Your choice of solution will enable you to extend what we have covered on the module (it is unlikely that we will have explicitly discussed your chosen solution). This provides you with an opportunity to read more widely but to locate your argument in the main themes that we have discussed on the module.

Possible focus of the solution?

Your solution should focus on a single school, a group of schools or be city wide.

You could, for example, propose a solution that changes the characteristics of the students who attend schools OR you could accept that who goes where leads to segregation and propose a school-based solution that supports the students who currently attend the schools (this could be a pedagogic intervention for example).

How to set out the report?

As an indication, your report may consist of three main sections (plus introductory and concluding paragraphs, as appropriate). However you are free to present your analysis differently if you wish as long as the key purpose of the assessment (characterising school level segregation and suggesting a solution) is met.

Section one: summarises the characteristics of each school. This may be in terms of the following characteristics:

·         School structure (e.g. whether it is selective or not)

·         Location (e.g. whether similar types of school cluster in certain areas)

·         Student characteristics (e.g. whether similar ’types’ of students attend certain schools)

·         Examination scores

Think about how best to present this data. You have a limited word count. What is the best way to present a summary of the characteristics of these schools? You do not need to use all of the data in your summary – select the key information (and don’t forget to include that which might link close to your solution).

Section two: you will need to explain any patterns of inequality (or segregation) between the city’s schools according to the characteristics summarised in section one. This is a descriptive section in which you explain what the characteristics of the schools tell you about demographic or educational segregation within the city. You will need to consider, briefly, what implications any segregation might have for issues of social justice.

Section three: You will need to present one solution that you think might ensure provision becomes more equitable. It will be up to you to explain what you mean by equitable provision and how your solution might help attain it. You will need to make reference to relevant academic literature to support your claims. Remember, there are no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ solutions. It is up to you to propose a solution, argue why it might make a difference and support your claims with the academic literature.

Glossary of ‘unfamiliar’ terms

Age range: schools can be categorised according to the age range they cater for. So an 11-16 school is for pupils aged 11 to 16. Pupils will leave after GCSE (or equivalent) and so the school will have no post-16 provision such as A-levels, GNVQs and so on. An 11-18 school will cater for pupils aged 16+, it will have a ‘sixth form’ where post-compulsory courses, such as A-levels, GNVQs, would be offered.

School specialism: some schools have a particular specialism which means that they are not open to everyone. Obvious examples are independent schools which largely select according to ability to pay. In the state sector the most usual form of selection is according to faith (religion). While faith schools can recruit a proportion of pupils from outside the faith community, the majority of pupils at that school will belong to a particular faith. Other forms of specialism (or selection) might be ability (e.g. state funded grammar schools) or an aptitude for, or interest in, a particular subject.

School capacity: this gives an indication of whether the school is oversubscribed (i.e. full) or not. Each school has room for a certain number of pupils and so it is interesting to know which schools might have too many or too few pupils and how this might change over a few years.

Special Educational Need and Disability (SEND): Pupils might be identified as having SEND for a wide range of reasons. They might have a medical or physical condition (e.g. be visually impaired or a wheel-chair user) which means they might require additional support in school, or their need might be educational e.g. they might have learning difficulties.Free School Meals (FSM): Pupils whose family receives certain state benefits are entitled to FSM. Not all students who are entitled to FSM actually take up the opportunity. Although imperfect, FSM is the best proxy for poverty that we can use in these circumstances.Black Minority Ethnic (BME): this is one way of grouping people according to the ethnic group to which they belong. It is a not perfect categorisation but is often used when comparing ethnic minority groups to a white majority, especially when the numbers in each separate minority group are very small.English as an Additional Language (EAL): simply a way of grouping language learners whose home (or native) language is not English.Key Stage 3: This represents National Curriculum years 7 to 9 (when pupils are aged between 11 and 13/14). Pupils are now assessed by their teacher at the end of Key Stage 3 (year 9) and the majority are expected to achieve level 5.

GCSE: examinations at the end of compulsory schooling. Usually reported as the percentage of pupils achieved 5 or more A*-C grades at GCSE (often including maths and English).
Suggested additional reading

Here are some additional readings that may help you with your ‘solution’.

Adonis, A. (2008) ‘Academies and Social Mobility’. Speech to the National Academies Conference, London, 7 February, accessed from:

Allen, R. (2010) ‘Replicating Swedish “free school” reforms in England’, Research in

            Public Policy, Summer, access from:


Andrews, J., Hutchinson, J., Johnes, R., (2016), Grammar schools and social mobility,


Ball, S., (2013), The landscape of education politics in England today, Chapters 2 and

3, in Education, justice and democracy: The struggle over ignorance

and opportunity, London: Centre for Labour and Social Studies.

Bernard Barker & Kate Hoskins (2017) Can high-performing academies overcome

family background and improve social mobility?, British Journal of Sociology

of Education, 38:2, 221-240, DOI: 10.1080/01425692.2015.1073104

Bolton, P., (2017), Grammar School Statistics, House of Commons Library, Briefing

Paper   1398, accessed from

Brady, G., (2015), The Twenty-First Century Case for Selection, in The Ins and Outs

of Selective Secondary Schools: A Debate, Ed de Waal A., London: Civitas.

Brighouse, H. and Swift, A. (2008) ‘Putting educational equality in its place’, Education Finance and Policy, 3 (4): 444–66.

Burgess, S., Vignoles, A., Greaves, E.,(2014), Scrap school admissions policies based

            on postcode – they entrench inequality, The Conversation, accessed             from

postcode -they-entrench-inequality-32579

Coldron, J., Cripps, C., Shipton, L., (2010), ‘Why are English secondary schools

socially segregated?’, Journal of Education Policy, 25(1), pp19-35

Cribb, J., Sibieta. L., Vignoles, A., (2013), Entry into Grammar Schools in England,

in Poor Grammar: Entry into Grammar Schools Disadvantaged Pupils in

England, The Sutton Trust, accessed from


Croft, J. (2011) Profit-Making Free Schools Unlocking the Potential of England’s

Proprietorial Schools Sector, Adam Smith Research Trust, accessed from:

Curtis, A., Exley, S., Sasia, A., Tough, S. and Whitty, J. (2008) The Academies

            Programme: Progress, Problems and Possibilities, a report for the Sutton

Trust, accessed from:


Cullinane, C., Andrade, J., Hillary, J., McNamara, S., (2017), Selective

Comprehensives 2017: Admissions to high-attaining non-selective schools for

disadvantaged pupils,             The Sutton Trust, accessed from

Anna-Maria Fjellman, Kajsa Yang Hansen & Dennis Beach (2018) School choice and

implications for equity: the new political geography of the Swedish upper

secondary school market, Educational Review,

DOI: 10.1080/00131911.2018.1457009

Freedman, L., (2010), Do academy schools really work? Prospect magazine, issue


Gorard, S. (2009) What are Academies the answer to?, Journal of Education Policy, 4(1), pp 1-13.

Gorard, S., (2014), The link between Academies in England, pupil outcomes and local patterns of socio-economic segregation between schools, Research Papers in Education, 29(3), pp268-284

Gorard, S. (2015), The uncertain future of comprehensive schooling in England,

European Educational Research Journal, 14(3-4), pp257–268.

Higham, R. (2014). Free schools in the Big Society: the motivations, aims and

demography of free school proposers. JOURNAL OF EDUCATION POLICY,

            29 (1), 122-139. doi:10.1080/02680939.2013.792017

Higham, R., & Allen, R. (2018). Quasi-markets, school diversity and social selection:

Analysing the case of free schools in England, five years on. London Review

            of Education, 16 (2), 191-213. doi:10.18546/LRE.16.2.02

Hirsch, D. (2007) Experiences of Poverty and Educational Disadvantage: Research

            Round-up. York: Joseph Rowntree Foundation, accessed from:

Kenway, P. and Palmer, G. (2007) Poverty Among Ethnic Groups: How and Why

            Does It Differ? York: Joseph Rowntree Foundation.

Long R., Bolton, P., (2017), Every School an Academy: The White Paper Proposals,

House of Commons briefing paper No 07549, accessed from


Marten, C., (2015), The Case for Grammar Schools, in The Ins and Outs of Selective

Secondary Schools: A Debate, Ed de Waal A., London: Civitas.

Merry, M., Arum, R., (2018), Can schools fairly select their students? Theory and

Research in Education 1 –21, DOI: 10.1177/1477878518801752

Morris, R., (2015), Free Schools and Disadvantaged Intakes, BERA Insights, Issue

13, accessed from          content/uploads/2015/02/Insights-15-Morrisfor-web.pdf

Morris, R., Perry, T., (2017) Reframing the English grammar schools debate,

Educational Review, 69(1), pp1-24

NAO (2010) The Academies Programme. London: Stationery Office, accessed from:

New Schools Network (2017), What is a free school? Accessed from

Perry, T., Morris, R., (2016), Time for an honest debate about grammar schools, The

            Conversation accessed 24th April 2017 from

for-an- honest-debate-about-grammar-schools-62370

Reeves, A., et al., (2017), The Decline and Persistence of the Old Boy: Private

Schools and Elite Recruitment 1897 to 2016, American Sociological Review

2017, Vol. 82(6) 1139 –1166, DOI: 10.1177/0003122417735742

Sahlgren, G.H., (2013), Dis-location School choice, residential segregation and

educational inequality, CENTRE FOR MARKET REFORM OF


Saporito, S. and Sahoni, D. (2006) ‘Mapping educational inequality: concentrations of

poverty among poor and minority students in public schools’, Social Forces,

85: 1227–53.

Scruton, R., (2015), Why we need grammar schools, The Spectator, 5th December

2015, accessed from


Strand, S., (2013), What accounts for ethnic achievement gaps in secondary schools in

England? BERA Insights 4, Autumn 2013, access from


Swift, A., Brighouse, H., (2010), School choice for those who have no choice, in

Could do better? Education policies in an election year, Questa March 2010,

The Philosophy of Education Society of Great Britain, http://www.philosophy-

Vincent, C., Braun, A. Ball, S. (2010) ‘Local links, local knowledge: choosing care

settings and schools’, British Educational Research Journal, 36(2): 279-98.

West, A., (2014), Academies in England and independent schools (fristående skolor)         in Sweden: policy, privatisation, access and segregation, Research Papers          in         Education, 29(3), pp330-350.

West, A., Bailey E., (2013), The Development of the Academies Programme:

‘Privatising’ School-Based Education in England 1986–2013, 61(2), pp137-159

West, A. and Currie, P. (2008) The role of the private sector in publicly funded schooling in England: finance, delivery and decision making, Policy and Politics, 36 (2): 191–207.

Wiliam D., (2012) Are there ‘good’ schools and ‘bad’ schools? Chapter 1 in, Adey,

P., and Dillon, J, Eds., Bad Education: Debunking Myths In Education,

Berkshire: OUP, (Ebook).


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