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Disability, special educational needs, class, capitals and segregation in schooling: a population geography perspective

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posted on 03.12.2018, 09:41 by Louise Holt, Sophie Bowlby, Jennifer Lea
This paper investigates the spatially variable schooling of young people with Special Educational Needs and Disability (SEND), and interconnections with class and capitals, using analysis of the School Census, and interviews with 64 educational professionals and parents in three areas in Southeast England. Three key original findings emerge. First, high proportions of young people with SEND come from poor backgrounds; however, most young people with SEND labels are not poor. Second, social class, capitals, and SEND intersect in ways which relatively advantage young people from more affluent and educated families, who gain access to specific labels and what is locally considered the ‘best’ education. Third, we conceptualise school spaces as differently ‘bounded’ or ‘connected’, providing different opportunities to develop meaningful relationships and qualifications, or social and cultural capital, rather than focus on the type of school (‘special’, separate schools for students with SEND; or ‘mainstream’ local schools). What are locally considered to be ‘the best’ school spaces are connected and porous, providing opportunities to develop social and cultural capital. Other school spaces are containers of both SEND and poverty, with limited opportunities to acquire social and cultural capitals. Overall, we suggest that the intersecting experience of SEND, class and capitals can (re)produce socio-economic inequalities through school spaces.



  • Social Sciences


  • Geography and Environment

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Population, Space and Place


HOLT, L., BOWLBY, S. and LEA, J., 2019. Disability, special educational needs, class, capitals and segregation in schooling: a population geography perspective. Population, Space and Place, 25(4): e2229.


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This work is made available according to the conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0) licence. Full details of this licence are available at: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/

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This is an Open Access Article. It is published by Wiley under the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 Unported Licence (CC BY). Full details of this licence are available at: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/