Education and Social Justice

Module code: SY3091

Module co-ordinator: Professor Emma Smith

This module is about fairness and social justice in education. Fairness is a widely used word and a fashionable political slogan but what does it really mean to have a fair society or indeed a fair education system? For example, is it fair that children from poorer families tend to do less well in school academically? Is it fair that students now have to pay large sums of money to study at university? Or is it fair that if families have the money they are able to 'buy' a 'better' education for their child?

In this module we will look at the educational inequalities that may accompany individuals from birth, through school and beyond. We will examine initiatives such as Sure Start, the Academies and Free Schools programme, and current educational issues such as the expansion of higher education and the inclusion of young people with special educational needs in mainstream schools. We will also look at the education systems in other countries, particularly the United States, to consider whether they have a 'fairer' system than we do.

Topics covered

  • Key philosophical and political ideas about fairness
  • Inequalities in early childhood in the UK and internationally
  • Patterns of attainment in compulsory schooling – which groups perform 'better' than others and why?
  • Issues of inclusion for children with special educational needs
  • Inequalities in education in the United States
  • The expansion of higher education in the UK, its benefits and challenges
  • Adult participation in education: who are the lifelong learners?

Learning

  • Twelve one-hour lectures
  • Six one-hour seminars

Assessment

  • One research report of 1,500 words (50%)
  • One exam (50%)