Understanding the attainment gap through social closure: implications for Scottish education policy

Michael Wilson, Christopher Holligan

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaper


Promoting greater social mobility has become the mantra of the Government’s social reform programme, underpinned by the establishment of the Social Mobility and Child Poverty Commission under the former Coalition Government in 2010. While there is acknowledgement that the causes of inequalities of opportunity are complex and multifaceted, the policy focus has been largely on the perceived inadequacies of state education provision, coupled with pressures on state schools to reduce the so-called attainment gap through comprehensive improvement strategies, supported by high-stakes testing, curricular prescription and a rigorous system of school inspection. Schools must burden a heavy responsibility for opening life-changing opportunities for children through quality and equality of provision. However, we contend that many causes of social and educational inequality of opportunity lie outside the direct control of state schools, and require more radical approaches to understanding both the problems and possible long-term solutions.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 22 Nov 2017
EventScottish Educational Research Association Annual Conference : Educational Futures in a Changing Landscape: Bridging Boundaries or "Mind the Gap"? - University of the West of Scotland, Ayr, United Kingdom
Duration: 22 Nov 201724 Nov 2017


ConferenceScottish Educational Research Association Annual Conference
Abbreviated titleSERA Conference 2017
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom
Internet address


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