Children’s treatment in the school environment has barely changed over many decades. Norms of obedience, discipline and control persist to define their ‘place’ in hierarchies of schooling. This is in direct contrast with freedoms they enjoy outside of school from, for example, their use of information communication technology, use of time and range of choices. This article is an autoethnographic study recounting my experience of working in an urban primary school.  Over a two-year period, during which time I held a senior leadership role, I recorded my experiences in a daily journal or diary. My focus was on children, especially children living in areas of intergenerational exclusion. I asked how democratic and therefore inclusive state schooling is? I focussed on the experience of children through their interactions and relationships with school structures and its professionalized culture. To that extent their experience was as subordinated social agents of an education policy hinterland whose micro-institutional structures undermine the agency and wellbeing of unsuspecting working-class children.
- social justice