Cultural capital, accountability and equity: time for a rethink?

FORUM - ISSN 0963-8253
Volume 66 Number 1 (2024)

Cultural capital, accountability and equity: time for a rethink?
Brian Stillings pages 41-51
DOI: 10.3898/forum.2024.66.1.05


I grew up on free school meals and now work as a school improvement adviser. In this article, I address discontinuities within my ‘support and challenge’ role, a role that can be constrained by educational policy enacted within a performative and panoptic culture of fear. Successive governments have concerned themselves with promoting equity through education, but discourses of levelling up and narrowing the attainment gap have yet to properly tackle inequalities. This article draws on Bourdieu’s notion of cultural capital to explore how pupils, especially working-class pupils, continue to be left behind and dehumanised thanks to a performative culture that pervades policy in school improvement and accountability. The Department for Education (DfE) commissioned research in 2019 on high-performing countries whose governments promote an equitable education system. These jurisdictions use collaboration as opposed to competition to achieve equitable educational outcomes, while our government favours accountability rather than collaboration to drive up school standards. I argue that the next government has the power to use such research on the benefits of collaboration rather than competition to genuinely improve outcomes for working-class pupils.

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To cite this article
Brian Stillings (2024) Cultural capital, accountability and equity: time for a rethink?, FORUM, 66(1), 41-51.

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