The COVID-19 pandemic closed schools, but this hiatus provided an opportunity to rethink the fundamental principles of our education system.
In this thought-provoking book, Alice Bradbury discusses how, before the pandemic, the education system assumed ability to be measurable and innate, and how this meritocracy myth reinforced educational inequalities – a central issue during the crisis.
Drawing on a project on ability grouping practices, Bradbury analyses how the recent educational developments of datafication and neuroscience have revised these ideas about how we classify and label children, and how we can rethink the idea of innate intelligence as we rebuild a post-pandemic schooling system.
"A brilliant, timely and compelling book that should be compulsory reading for everyone concerned about the state of English education." Diane Reay, University of Cambridge
“A sensitive and sophisticated analysis of fixity and change in education. Bradbury uses the COVID experience to show how supposedly innate differences are underpinned by material inequalities. Taken seriously this opens up the possibility of re-thinking education post-COVID as more ethical and more equal.” Stephen J. Ball, University College London
"Clear, engaging and thought-provoking, this book is fascinating and essential reading for teachers, researchers, policy makers and anyone who wants to rethink schooling in more equitable ways." Louise Archer, UCL Institute of Education
“Alice Bradbury presents a penetrating critique of our contemporary understanding of discourses of ‘ability’ and ‘merit’. Her account is both accessible and powerfully influenced by her concern for social justice.” Carol Vincent, UCL Institute of Education
“This hugely important book presents a devastating analysis of how inequities multiply and grow under the guise of meritocracy. The tools that policy makers proclaim as our salvation (neuroscience, big data) are the means by which inequity is ensured.” David Gillborn, University of Birmingham
Alice Bradbury is Associate Professor in the Centre for Sociology of Education and Equity at the UCL Institute of Education and Co-Director of the Helen Hamlyn Centre for Pedagogy 0-11 years. Before moving into academia, she worked as a primary teacher in London. She has conducted a number of research projects on the impact of education policies on inequalities. She was awarded BERA Impact Award 2016 for her work on Baseline Assessment.
Ability and its use in schools
How does the idea of ability relate to inequalities?
The infl uence of neuroscience
Data and the solidifi cation of ability
Challenging ability, inequality and the myth of meritocracy in the post- pandemic era