Why have attempts to promote equality of opportunity in schools in the UK and/or other countries failed?
This paper opens with David Cameron’s words on equality of opportunity. His assertion that we need to reach out to disadvantaged pupils is questioned through an examination of social mobility and homelessness in the UK. Analysis suggests that equality of opportunity is a societal, rather than educational issue. Using a metaphor from a Frans Francken painting, this paper argues that ‘low achievers’ are suffocated by those above them in the social hierarchy: hope of ascent is unrealistic. This paper concludes that instead of raising aspirations, the government should re-examine the responsibility of the establishment in keeping people ‘in their place’.