Processes of middle-class reproduction in a graduate employment scheme

Smart, Sarah; Hutchings, Merryn; Maylor, Uvanney; Mendick, Heather and Menter, Ian. 2009. Processes of middle-class reproduction in a graduate employment scheme. Journal of Education and Work, 22(1), pp. 35-53. ISSN 1363-9080 [Article]

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Abstract or Description

Teach First is an educational charity that places graduates to teach in 'challenging' schools for two years. It is marketed as an opportunity to develop employability while 'making a difference'. In this paper, I examine the process of class reproduction occurring in this graduate employment scheme through examining the discourses used in Teach First marketing and by Teach First participants. I begin by arguing that the Teach First participants interviewed as part of an evaluation were predominantly middle-class, and possessed social and cultural capital which had facilitated their access to the Teach First scheme. I then illustrate three processes of middle-class reproduction within Teach First. The first is the accumulation by participants of additional social and cultural capital. The second is the reproduction of middle-class values and stereotypes of the working-class other, and the third is the obscuring of middle-class advantage through discourses of 'natural ability'. I conclude that although well-intentioned Teach First participants worked extremely hard to combat educational disadvantage, their actions were twisted by class forces, and resulted in the reproduction of middle-class privilege.

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teach first, social class, education, teaching, social reproduction, elitism

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Educational Studies




Funding bodyFunder IDGrant Number
Gatsby Technical Education ProjectsUNSPECIFIED
Training and Development Agency for SchoolsUNSPECIFIED

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Date Deposited:

14 Oct 2010 12:02

Last Modified:

29 Apr 2020 15:49

Peer Reviewed:

Yes, this version has been peer-reviewed.


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