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International Journal of Inclusive Education Vol. 13, No. 4, June 2009, 341–358

Education and poverty: mapping the terrain and making the links to educational policy
Carlo Raffo*, Alan Dyson, Helen Gunter, Dave Hall, Lisa Jones and Afroditi Kalambouka
School of Education, University of Manchester, Oxford Road, Manchester M13 9PL, UK
carlo.raffo@manchester.ac.uk CarloRaffo 0000002008 00 2008& Francis Original Article 1360-3116 Francis International Journal of 10.1080/13603110802124462 TIED_A_312612.sgm Inclusive Education Taylor and (print)/1464-5173 (online)

Although there is widespread agreement that poverty and poor educational outcomes are related, there are different explanations about why that should be the case. The purpose of this paper is to provide a conceptualsynthesis of some of the research literature on poverty and education. From our readings the debates cohere, to a greater or lesser extent, around three different foci: ones that focus on the individual and that we have termed the ‘micro-level’; some that focus on ‘immediate social contexts’ that might be located in families, communities, schools and peer groups and that we have termed the ‘meso-level’;and others again that focus on social structures and/or are linked to notions of power and inequality and that we have termed the ‘macro-level’. In addition, the various literatures highlight a fundamental difference in the way they understood the role of education in producing what we might call the ‘good society’ – and hence what counts as ‘good education’. These two broad positions we havetermed as functionalist and socially critical perspectives and together with the micro-, mesoand macro-foci provide a mapping framework by which we organise the literature and through which we examine a number of educational policy interventions in England that have focused on educational outcomes and disadvantage/poverty. The analysis suggests that perhaps too much policy intervention focuses on themore accessible and amenable meso-level (and to lesser extent the micro-level) with too little emphasis on the macro-level. At the same time many interventions appear disjointed, often lack coherence and seem to eschew issues of power. Different ways of responding to these apparent deficiencies are explored through current developments and potential in full service extended schools and throughnotions of democratic pedagogy and governance possibilities suggestive of the ‘new localism’ agenda. Keywords: poverty and education; conceptual framework; socially critical; functional; macro/meso/micro level of analysis; educational policy

Introduction Societies in economically advanced countries face something of a paradox. Formal education tends to be a public service available to all childrenand young people, regardless of family income. Such education systems are generally well-resourced, offer high-quality experiences, and are likely to have sophisticated mechanisms for targeting attention and resources to the most disadvantaged learners. It might be reasonable to suppose, therefore, that formal education will offer a route out of poverty for the most disadvantaged young people. Yetevidence over many decades
*Corresponding author. Email: carlo.raffo@manchester.ac.uk
ISSN 1360-3116 print/ISSN 1464-5173 online © 2009 Taylor & Francis DOI: 10.1080/13603110802124462 http://www.informaworld.com


C. Raffo et al.

shows that family background continues to be a major determinant of educational outcomes (Jencks 1972; Kelly 1995; Mortimore and Whitty 1997; Bynner andJoshi 2002; Demie, Butler, and Taplin 2002; Bell 2003; UNICEF 2007). Put simply, the poorer is a child’s family, the less well they are likely to do in the education system. Far from offering a route out of poverty, all too often education simply seems to confirm existing social hierarchies. Although this relationship is an international phenomenon, it is one which has attracted much recent...
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