The School welcomes David Barrett, Lecturer at Nottingham Trent Law School, to lead a research seminar on socio-economic inequality
Wills Memorial Building, 5.68
The School invites all faculty members to the next Research Seminar held in the Wills Memorial Building.
Socio-economic inequality is extremely high in the UK (the US is the only developed country with higher levels): 70% of capital is held by the top ten per cent of the population; thirteen million people currently live in poverty; and class has a bigger impact on an individual’s educational achievements than in 52 other developed countries. This is extremely problematic as countries with higher inequality have increased social problems such as reduced health and life expectancy and increased educational inequality. The latter is particularly important as poor educational achievement drastically increases an individual’s chances of being socio-economically disadvantaged in adulthood. Consequently addressing socio-economic inequality in education is a crucial issue.
Unfortunately measures to address socio-economic inequality primarily focus upon addressing poverty, which is inadequate as action is also needed to address economic inequality and class structures which inhibit social mobility. It is argued that the high levels of socio-economic inequality have arisen via free markets and that as a consequence the introduction of regulation in the form of equality and human rights law can be justified. The paper thus adopts a regulatory approach (rather than a traditional legal approach) discussing four different regulatory rationales. It is illustrated that current (largely policy) measures are inadequate to address socio-economic inequality and as an alternative it is suggested that equality and human rights law would be more effective. The latest policy measure in education (the pupil premium) is explored empirically and it is illustrated how a regulatory equality and human rights approach could be more effective. The paper concludes by moving away from a traditional legal focus on courts and explores how regulators work together to address socio-economic inequality within schools. It is found that they are ineffective and thus need to be reformed if socio-economic equality is to be achieved.