Theorising equality in education: What can be learnt from the field of additional support needs?

Sheila Riddell, Joan Stead, Elisabet Weedon, Kevin Wright

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The paper focuses on the outcome of legislation in Scotland, the Education (Additional Support for Learning) Act that was designed to give educational supports to children with learning difficulties including those due to social disadvantage. The ‘overt aim of the legislation was redistributive’ but the authors found that the legislation did not operate as it was intended. While children with additional support needs (ASN) are much more likely to live in socially deprived areas, they are also more likely to be identified as having behavioural troubles rather than having dyslexia, Asperger’s Syndrome, or Attention Deficit and Hyperactivity Disorder. The kind of massive redistribution of economic resources that would make a difference to seriously deprived areas simply does not happen. Thus the statutory entitlement to ASN was acquired disproportionately by parents in socially advantaged areas.
The authors underscore that piecemeal reforms fail to address structural injustices which, in turn, perpetuate inequalities. Riddell’s paper also highlights the gendered and classed order of informal family care work in education and how the phenomenon of informal family caring (nurturing and love labour) is not named or examined in most studies as an educational resource although it is vital for educational success.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)67-83
JournalEducation et Sociétés
Issue number27
Publication statusPublished - 2011


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