Trapped in Educational Marginalisation: ‘I just drifted away.’

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter in a book


This chapter is set against the backdrop of the neoliberal classroom, where as Stephen J. Ball identifies, market forces and associated ‘performativity’ pressures reverberate, impacting teacher and student subjectivities and troubling their ‘souls’. Through exploring one student’s account of educational marginalisation, I argued that the series of barriers to inclusion, which he encounters, effectively make marginalisation inescapable. The severe cumulative effects of this succession of barriers, provides a powerful concrete illustration of ways in which educational inequalities may be realised - and crucially compounded - within the current neoliberal education system. Permeating the account are structural issues of primary-secondary transition, ability grouping, pathway allocations and various forms of exclusion. Obstacles are also seen on smaller, personal, affecting scales. Teacher-student relationships, labelling and control appear. Repercussions of particular pedagogies, of unrecognised, masked and unmet learning needs also feature, as do issues of self-esteem and permissible learner-identities. This account of complex, multilevel, educational marginalisation is juxtaposed with the same students narrative of his more positive, hopeful experiences, often beyond the classroom, where successful learning, engagement and belonging more readily occur. This demonstrates the inappropriateness of any deficit model and illustrates how things may indeed have been otherwise. Lastly, I argue that what is needed to tackle such cumulative educational marginalisation, spanning systemic and personal scales, is two-fold: Reversing inroads made by marketisation and embracing critical pedagogy.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThinking with Stephen J. Ball:
Subtitle of host publicationLines of Flight in Education
EditorsMaria Tamboukou
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 4 Jan 2021


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