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Goldsmiths - University of London

Changing attitudes to cultural difference: perceptions of Muslim families in English schools

Pearce, Sarah and Lewis, Kirstin. 2018. Changing attitudes to cultural difference: perceptions of Muslim families in English schools. Cambridge Journal of Education, 49(1), pp. 1-14. ISSN 0305-764X [Article]

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Abstract or Description

This article argues that neoliberal and neoconservative schooling policies in England legitimise a long-standing neglect of cultural difference in schools, and are having a particularly damaging effect on Muslim children’s experience of schooling. It offers evidence that relationships between teachers and Muslim families in particular may be becoming more distant, and argues that this is largely a result of a complex series of pressures on teachers’ working lives. Interview data from a small-scale interpretive, empirical study of eight primary teachers suggests that in some schools the most frequent response to issues involving Muslim families is avoidance. It is suggested this is because teachers did not see Muslims as individuals, but as representatives of an essentially different group. However, a major finding of this study is that when teachers were able to make connections with families, they gained a more complex understanding of the realities of the Muslim children in their classes.

Item Type:


Identification Number (DOI):


Muslim, teachers, accountability, neoliberalism

Departments, Centres and Research Units:

Educational Studies
Educational Studies > Centre for Identities and Social Justice


9 January 2018Accepted
15 February 2018Published

Item ID:


Date Deposited:

02 May 2019 13:36

Last Modified:

16 Aug 2019 19:48

Peer Reviewed:

Yes, this version has been peer-reviewed.


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