Sarah Swann provides a fresh approach to examining the long-standing debates over disaffection, and in particular social class differences in educational achievement, through a mixed methods methodology and the showcasing of new research. By observing pupils as they engage with peers and teachers in school, Swann allows disaffection to be seen and heard in ’real’ events which constructs disaffection differently from objective statistical evidence on school exclusions. Rather than a homogenous identity, this book illustrates disaffection as layered and resting on a series of issues located on the crossroads between the cultural context of the neighbourhood and the public sphere of the school. It plots in a detailed way how these structures interact and mesh to create disaffected identities. Disaffection does not emerge in a vacuum, or without a cause. Pupils arrive at school with a wide variety of experiences and it is from these that they interpret, understand and act out their identities. Whilst the study in part seeks to describe and understand the social world of the school in terms of the pupils’ interpretations of the situation, it analytically frames the perceptions of pupils within a wider social context. In particular it focuses on the relationships between schooling and the wider macro structures and social relations that underpin disaffection. This approach makes the research both critical and interpretative and also able to shed new light on educational policy across England based on an understanding of the role of disaffection.
’A powerful, wonderfully readable assessment of disaffection and schooling which offers a unique perspective on contemporary education in the UK and the issues that must be confronted by government and teachers. Sarah Swann draws deeply on her life as a teacher and combines this with an incisive assessment of how schooling works and how it fails. An essential text for policy-makers and students alike in making sense of education today.’ Ian Law, University of Leeds, UK