The politics of aspiration: neo-liberal education policy, 'low' parental aspirations, and primary school Extended Services in disadvantaged communities

2013-12-10T16:44:55Z (GMT) by Sarah Holloway Helena Pimlott-Wilson
Geographical research on education has grown rapidly in both volume and scope during the first decade of the twenty-first century, and one relatively new theme to emerge from this growing literature is that of education and aspiration. Much of the nascent interest in aspiration concerns access to quality schooling and University education. In this paper by contrast we highlight the importance of studying the ways aspirations are (re)produced within the school community. Our empirical focus is on low-income England under New Labour. Here we pursue a two-fold approach: firstly examining how education professionals define parental aspirations for primary-aged children as low; before secondly considering their alternative understandings of appropriate aspirations and the practices through which they seek to promote these, both in school and through the use of Extended Services for parents and children. In conclusion we highlight the importance of inward and outward geographies of education which ‘recouple’ schools with their social context, and discuss the moral and political ambiguities involved in practices designed to raise aspirations.