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Spatial inequalities in access to university, jobs and 'good' schools


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Keynote on "Exploring Inequality and its Consequences: Education, Labour Markets, and Communities", given by Danny Dorling Birbeck University, 5th July 2010.

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Spatial inequalities in access to university, jobs and 'good' schools

  1. 1. Spatial inequalities in access to university, jobs and 'good' schools Danny Dorling, Department of Geography, University of Sheffield Keynote on “ Exploring Inequality and its Consequences: Education, Labour Markets, and Communities”, 5 th July, 2010, adapted from 20 th April Talk given within Sheffield University concerning Widening Participation so I will start with that. Watch the multimedia version of this presentation including video at
  2. 2. 2034, 2024, 2014, 2012, never? <ul><li>“ The danger that has settled in upon us since the shock administered by the events of the last year is that the clamouring throng who find the gates of higher education barred against them may turn against the social order by which they feel themselves condemned” </li></ul><ul><li>Young, M. (1958 (1961)). The Rise of the Meritocracy 1870-2033: An essay on education and equality. London, Thames and Hudson. (page 13, on 2034). </li></ul>
  3. 3. Educational norms change <ul><li>The way we currently allocate university places will, in a few decades time, come to appear as perverse and haphazard as entry to elementary education prior to the 1880s now appears and as secondary education places were allocated prior to the 1960s. Perverse here means harmful to almost all, from the poorest to richest. What is a good education, a good university and a good job? </li></ul>
  4. 4. School-leaving age (years) and university entry (%), Britain, 1876-2013 School leaving age University entry % Year Age Source: “Injustice” (2010)
  5. 5. HE by neighbourhood, 2005 (inequality by tract) Sources: “Identity in Britain” (2007) pages 100-103 (next slides)
  6. 6. Concentrate on extremes Tracts are half Constituencies. By decile the inequality rate is about 1:4. It is higher if smaller neighbourhoods are compared. Note how the trend ‘flicks’ down and up at both ends – it is regressive.
  7. 7. Concentrate on the map
  8. 8. Concentrate on elite 10% Going to most ‘prestigious’
  9. 9. Concentrate on the lines Hallam North/South
  10. 10. So, how is all this changing? <ul><li>When Quintiles are considered rather than deciles the worse off fifth had a 15% chance of university in 2005. That rose to 19% by 2010. A huge increase for young people (aged 18 and 19) in the worse-off fifth of areas. An extra one in twenty five going in just five years. A 26% ‘access increase’…. (19-15)/15. </li></ul>Source: HEFCE, 2010 report (January)
  11. 11. Recently a narrowing in inequality occurred A slight narrowing viewed in some ways, remarkable in others, but not even those in ‘pole-position’ are happy.. The source here are HEFCE’s 2010 Trends report
  12. 12. Considering the 15% to 19% rise: It was predicted given earlier GCSEs
  13. 13. It looks as if it reflects ‘investment’, when a “lag” is put in, as below
  14. 14. But it is uneven. For the worse-off fifth: Women +5%, Men +4%
  15. 15. However, geographical differences in the trend are much more important. The overall rise in Yorkshire for all groups is just 4% in the last five years. To those regions and sexes that have, more is given. And – we have managed to create a system that still causes great distress – possibly most distress to those at the top…
  16. 16. “ Bright pupils are rejected in scramble for university” The Times Newspaper on April 10th reported on Florence MacKenzie who they described as “upset and angry”. Their reported continued: ‘Universities would have fought over Florence MacKenzie, 18, in previous years. On course to achieve A and A* grades in her A levels, she has straight A*s in her nine GCSEs, plays hockey for her school, and is Grade 8 at piano and violin. She and her parents were baffled when she was rejected by three of her five chosen universities. Florence, from Banbury, is happy with her place studying English at University College London, but was turned down by Edinburgh, St Andrews and Durham. All are popular universities, hugely oversubscribed for her chosen subject, allowing them to be extremely picky. Edinburgh allocated 70 per cent of places on a points system that favoured teenagers from poor schools, those whose parents did not go to university, or those from Scotland or northern England. Florence goes to an independent girls’ school in Warwick so did not qualify. It set a hurdle of 11 GCSEs at A* to qualify for the remaining 30 per cent of places, but many schools (including Florence’s) do not set this many. She said: “I was very keen on Edinburgh and upset when rejected by them — angry as well after I found out the reasons why. I don’t think it’s a fair way of doing it, they should interview like other universities.” As many as 25 candidates are pursuing each place on popular courses at leading universities.’
  17. 17. So, what is happening? Consider a very crude map of inequality in access S. Yorks. Banbury Source: “Human Geography of the UK” (2005) pages 33-47 (& next slides)
  18. 18. Crude models predicting access You can predict how many you people will go to university from each area by knowing their social class background. However there are geographical effects above this. Living in an area where it has become usual to go to university, for from which youngsters want to escape more increases their chances of attending beyond the effects of social class and vice versa (Latin also puts children with usual backgrounds off places that reveal in using it…) Human Geography Landscapes:
  19. 19. Consider a crude indicator of access inequality beyond class S. Yorks. Banbury Source: 4% - -4% = 8% gap “beyond class” For every 12 children 1 extra in S. Yorks. .does not go to uni.
  20. 20. Consider South Yorkshire and in particular Sheffield – why the gap? And why the dramatic reduction?
  21. 21. Government has very scant data <ul><li>Higher Education: Sheffield (PQ 29 March 2010) – Extract: </li></ul><ul><li>Mr. Betts: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills how many and what proportion of young people in (a) each Sheffield constituency and (b) the City of Sheffield have entered higher education in each year since 1998. [323761] </li></ul><ul><li>Mr. Lammy [holding answer 25 March 2010]: The numbers of young (under 21) undergraduate entrants, from the Sheffield constituencies of Attercliffe, Brightside, Central, Hallam, Heeley and Hillsborough and Sheffield local authority, are provided in the following table. Figures are provided for the academic years 1998/99 to 2008/09. </li></ul><ul><li>Percentage change in young undergraduate entrants: 1998/99 to 2008/09 Change (percentage) Sheffield Attercliffe+74Sheffield Brightside+91Sheffield Central+78Sheffield Hallam+12Sheffield Heeley+44Sheffield Hillsborough+53Sheffield local authority+46 </li></ul><ul><li>The Department does not collect data on the number of residents in a particular area who are not in higher education, which would be necessary to calculate a proportion. It is, therefore, not possible to calculate the proportion of young people in each Sheffield constituency and Sheffield local authority who have entered higher education in each year since 1998. </li></ul><ul><li> </li></ul>The next five slides consider trends in Sheffield by area – and division
  22. 22. Educational divides for the lucky may be narrowing but other gaps growing Source: “ The Sheffield Project” (2009, Shef. Uni.) (& next slides)
  23. 23. Sheffield: Road traffic casualties 2005–2007: children aged 0–10 <ul><li>Brightside 69 </li></ul><ul><li>Attercliffe 67 </li></ul><ul><li>Central 54 </li></ul><ul><li>Heeley 42 </li></ul><ul><li>Hillsborough 30 </li></ul><ul><li>Hallam 11 </li></ul>Next slide: from age 15 we can forecast futures Between dental record at age 5 and school records from age 11, inequalities are most starkly shown by RTA:
  24. 24. By home location at age 15
  25. 27. All this results in polarisation in youth National modal age (16-24): [ the Pied Piper of London?] Sources: “Identity in Britain” (2007) pages 105-122 (next slides)
  26. 28. The children taken by the Pied Piper of London may be too old when it comes to playing with their grandchildren.
  27. 29. Britain can be seen as a city with quarters and its hinterland Oxford NW, ‘professional’ by label.
  28. 30. A memory test:
  29. 31. Oxford North West: Prof./ Elem.! 1 st / 2 nd most common jobs ‘ bedder’ = Elementary
  30. 32. A way forward – given the funding review - please think more local <ul><li>One tangible geographical step forward from abstract wishes is to consider your local area – what happened to the chances of the great great grandchildren of those who paid their penny subscription to build a university in Sheffield? </li></ul><ul><li>Or, in Oxford, to those hundreds of thousands of children of the ‘bedders’ </li></ul>When talking where I live and where I am from…
  31. 33. HEFCE benchmarks ignore geography (as they stand), thus: <ul><li>In 2009 Sheffield appeared in 2 nd place amongst Russell Group (+ York = RGY) Universities in how it was taking 8.2% of students from low participation neighbourhoods (target was 7.1%). But the university sits on the edge of one of the largest ‘seas’ of such neighbourhoods. Its rank out of all universities was 66 th . </li></ul>When talking where I live and where I am from… (Oxford also sits in a low part. Area)
  32. 34. Geography matters: Look at the proportions attending private schools at age 15 2% in S. Yorks. Banbury: 9%+ Source: Low participation ridge
  33. 35. From state schools or colleges <ul><li>Sheffield has risen from 4 th to 3 rd placed amongst RGY universities (85 th amongst all England’s in taking 85.7% from state schools given a benchmark of 81.5% (note 93% of all children go). But this is hardly surprising given its geography – in a “state school sea”. </li></ul>For every child in Britain that attends a private school (7%) Sheffield takes – pro rata – two children (14.3% of entry). When talking of where I live and where I am from… Oxford takes far more from the 7%
  34. 36. Parents from working classes <ul><li>Of the RGY universities Sheffield is 7 th by social class origin of parents, taking 20.7% of “NSEC 4-7”, benchmark 22.9%, full English ranking 93 rd . Proportion slipping from 21.3% in 2008, but rank not slipping as the source class group shrinks. All unsurprising. Northern upper-middle class parents use state schools far more. </li></ul>When talking where I live and where I am from… in Oxford ‘choice’ is often private Are we hitting many targets but missing the point?
  35. 37. Conclusions <ul><li>Try to think outside of RGY and outside 2010 (Russell Group + York) </li></ul><ul><li>Do think of the people of Sheffield, Oxford, or wherever; not an abstract </li></ul><ul><li>It may be harder then to be too complacent? To tell others to try harder? </li></ul><ul><li>Who needs to ‘Dream bigger dreams’? – ‘us’ or ‘them’. Are universities the problem? </li></ul><ul><li>Whose dreams are bigger in the first place? Its elitism simply complacent? </li></ul>
  36. 38. Further reading if interested: <ul><li>The return to elitism in education , Soundings, Issue 44, March 2010: </li></ul><ul><li>“ A society's attitudes to innate intelligence are closely correlated with its levels of inequality, writes Danny Dorling. In Britain, the backlash against comprehensive education has created a market-based system in which schools and universities compete for money and students”. </li></ul><ul><li>With Ben Hennig, (2010). Angles, Saxons, Inequality, and Educational Mobility in England and Germany , Social Europe Journal , Online Debate Article. </li></ul><ul><li> </li></ul><ul><li>Tall tales and ripping yarns (2010) Adults Learning Magazine, an article on why </li></ul><ul><li>inequality persists, and what can education do to challenge it </li></ul>Watch the multimedia version of this presentation including video at