Variations on a middle class theme: English primary schools in socially advantaged contexts

Martin Thrupp, Ruth Lupton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Multiple contexts interact to position any school on a spectrum from cumulatively advantaged to cumulatively disadvantaged. This article discusses a study of the contextual advantages and disadvantages experienced by primary schools in the south east of England, concentrating especially on schools in the least deprived 5% of schools nationally. The research highlights the central influence of advantaged socioeconomic contexts on day-to-day school processes and on the related perspectives and beliefs of head teachers as well as variations on this theme related to other external and internal contextual variables. It illustrates that England's most socially advantaged primary schools are likely to have much in common including a high level of parent involvement, a strong focus on student learning and progress, considerable ability to raise funds, very good reputations and only a handful of students with serious learning or behavioural problems. They also have in common middle class forms of transience and profiles of special needs. The article concludes that while contextual variations amongst socially advantaged schools do exist and are talked up by head teachers, they usually have an impact that can be managed. © 2011 Taylor & Francis.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)289-312
Number of pages23
JournalJournal of Education Policy
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2011


  • England
  • Middle class
  • Primary schools
  • Research
  • School context


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