“They can’t handle the race agenda”: stakeholders’ reflections on race and education policy, 1993–2013

Warmington, Paul; Gillborn, David; Rollock, Nicola and Demack, Sean. 2018. “They can’t handle the race agenda”: stakeholders’ reflections on race and education policy, 1993–2013. Educational Review, 70(4), pp. 409-426. ISSN 0013-1911 [Article]

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Abstract or Description

This paper explores the personal reflections of educators and contributors to policy on the shifting status of race equality in education policy in England between 1993 and 2013. The interview participants included some of the most notable figures active in race equality work in England. Part of the paper’s significance is its focus on the perspectives of actors with longstanding involvement in the field of race equality, who have witnessed changes in policy over time. As “stakeholders” with direct involvement in education policy-making and enactment, the participants tended to focus on three historic policy moments. These were: measures aimed at closing ethnic achievement gaps that began in the early 1990s; the diversity and citizenship agenda that featured in New Labour’s term; and the Macpherson Report (1999) and the subsequent Race Relations (Amendment) Act (2000). Participants’ narratives converged in a largely pessimistic view of 1993–2013 as a period in which race equality policy had gained momentum, touched the policy mainstream – but then failed. By the end of the New Labour administration (1997–2010) and the start of the subsequent Conservative–Liberal Democrat Coalition government (2010–2015), explicit focus on race equality in education policy had, in the views of the participants, been severely diminished.

Item Type:


Identification Number (DOI):



Race, Equality, Diversity, Multiculturalism, Education Policy

Departments, Centres and Research Units:

Educational Studies


5 July 2017Accepted
25 July 2017Published Online

Item ID:


Date Deposited:

17 Jul 2018 15:53

Last Modified:

20 Nov 2020 11:28

Peer Reviewed:

Yes, this version has been peer-reviewed.



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