Poverty and Education seminar

Poverty and Education in northern England:

a Reclaiming Schools seminar

Wednesday 22 November 2017, at York St John University

Please email terrywrigley@gmail.com if you would like to attend.


This seminar follows a pattern developed by the Reclaiming Schools network in conjuction with the NUT (now part of the NEU). It has proved valuable in bridging between schools and universities, and bringing together the ideas and experiences of socially engaged teachers and researchers.

The emphasis is on active, thoughtful discussion prompted by short expert presentations. Numbers are limited to around 40, with an equal balance between school and university-based participants.

It is not designed as a ‘training event’, but will make a high-quality contribution to participants’ professional development through its discussion of practical and policy issues.

10.00-10.30 Registration and coffee


Key issues

How has de-industrialisation, followed by Austerity politics, affected the lives of children?

How do young people experience places marked by deindustrialisation?

Is there a separate underclass (or precariat) in parts of northern England?

Lead contributors

Laura Winter (Manchester), Lecturer in Education and Counselling Psychology, researching the perceived impact of austerity and welfare reform on education and well-being.

Rob MacDonald (Teesside), professor of sociology with numerous publications based on research with marginalised young people.

Gabrielle Ivinson (MMU), an ethnographic researcher working with young people in ex-industrial areas.


12.30-1.15 Lunch


Key issues

How does class or poverty relate to differences in achievement?

Why has talk of ‘social mobility’ and ‘aspirations’ become so important in education policy?

How do teachers understand disadvantage?

Lead contributors

Jo Littler (City, University of London), whose recent book ‘Against Meritocracy’ takes a critical look at how the idea of social mobility is deployed by policy-makers and more widely.

Terry Wrigley (Northumbria), co-author of Living on the Edge, a book which questions a range of explanations for the ‘attainment gap’.

Amanda Nuttall (Leeds Trinity), until recently a primary teacher engaged in school-based research, including how the curriculum is disenfranchising children growing up in poverty.


2.45-3.00 Tea break


Key issues

Can schools make a difference? If so, how?

What kind of policies would lead towards greater equality?

Lead contributor: Kevin Courtney, NEU Joint General Secretary, will conclude this session.