Many current debates about schooling work to deflect our attention away from the influence of socio-economic contexts on student outcomes and do little more than 'blame the victims'. However, it can be argued that post-school prospects for students from low socio-economic backgrounds in western societies are worsening and social inequalities are growing at an alarming rate. We are experiencing a widening of the gap between rich and poor along with youth under-employment at the same time as manufacturing industries are moving offshore and industrial relations reforms are leading to an erosion of labour market securities. This paper locates one secondary school - situated in an economically depressed community within Australia characterised by high levels of unemployment, high welfare dependency, a significant Indigenous population and teacher transience - firmly within these broader issues of the changing economic, political and cultural context within which schooling now operates. Although the context is local, the problems encountered by students who are 'on the margins' of school success and of the socio-economic structure, are being experienced more broadly and have implications for thinking about social inequalities (re)produced in and through schooling.