Book Review:Changing Life Chances by Robin Richardson.

Peter D`Sena

Peter D`Sena

Peter D`Sena Discipline Lead History,Higher Education Academy

According to the Department for Education (DfE), almost 1.2 million children in England live in a lower-income household (as defined by eligibility for free school meals); and from that group only 27% of the 16-year olds achieve five A* to C grades at GCSE, compared with 54% of others.

No wonder the DfE in their Equality Impact Statement (2011) came to the enormously miserable and powerful conclusion that ‘we are clearly, as a nation, still wasting talent on a scandalous scale.  It is a moral failure and an affront to social justice’.  Using government documentation such as this Robin Richardson quickly and convincingly launches into this short book, showing us that we are living in a period when, paradoxical as it may seem because things are both getting better and worse at the same time, the achievement gap is growing wider between children.

The recent Equalities Act (2010) then comes under Richardson’s microscope and the result is a succinct, yet robust rationale for practitioners working in the field.  His effective argument is that to the Act’s nine protected characteristics of disability, ethnicity and race, gender, religion and so on, we should also add socio-economic inequality, brought through poverty, low income and social class.  And, just as a core principle of the Act is that ‘due regard’ is a necessity in order to carry its objectives into practice, so too should schools and individuals develop, demonstrate and practice ‘due regard’ in all they do in order to narrow the gap. Read more of this post

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