Deindustrialisation and urban schooling in Australia and England

This symposium is from a group of research teams located in the cities of Leeds and Oxford (UK) and Geelong and Adelaide (Victoria and South Australia). This pilot study derives from the BERA Commission on Poverty and Policy Advocacy and renewed attention to the 'new sociology of deindustrialisation' (Strangleman and Rhodes, 2013, p.411). The BERA Commission (Ivinson et al, 2017), highlights the ways in which poverty continues to seriously constrain the life chances of many learners across the four jurisdictions of the UK, albeit with considerable local and geographical disparities.
There is much international research evidence to show that poverty adversely affects all aspects of young people's lives including educational attainment and well-being in schools. However, there is remarkably little research evidence around the quality of learning experienced by these young people in school settings, and how social and cultural contexts of schools, in particular urban settings, intersect with the economic realities of barriers of poverty to learning. Wilkinson and Pickett (2009) have shown that economic inequality is damaging to societies and report that Australia and the United Kingdom are amongst the most unequal societies. More research is needed into the effects of poverty on specific aspects of children's lives. There is also a need to understand the ways in which the localised and spatial patterns of poverty interrupted by deindustrialisation influence learning in schools. Finally, there is a need to understand more precisely how teachers' understandings of poverty impact on pedagogy.
This symposium reports on research in Australia and England that aims to address a major gap in the literature. In both countries, government rhetoric about addressing concerns about the effects of poverty upon learning and attainment contrast sharply with economic policies that adversely and disproportionately affect poorer children. The four papers in this symposium will examine the distinct historical, geographical, political and socio-economic landscapes in two contrasting cities in England (Leeds and Oxford) and two in Australia (Adelaide and Geelong) of the ways young people living in poverty experience learning or research into the pedagogic practices of their teachers. The aim of this research is to catalogue the social, cultural, historical and socio-economic influences including deindustrialisation on the learning of pupils in urban schools whose lives are marked by poverty, and in some cases, cumulative multiple deprivation. The symposium will help to build the international evidence on child poverty and its impact on schooling and draw lessons from the similarities and differences of learning as experienced in specific contexts. Pat Thomson, from the University of Nottingham will provide discussant comments to further open out the spaces developed in the four papers that are investigating the issues in a large scale two country, four cities project.