The module provides an understanding of the social context of education and lifelong learning. This includes the ways in which education systems reflect broader economic, political, social and cultural structures and values; how these inform education policy; the impact of policy on education practice; and the experiences of learners.
The module examines the processes and structures in different sectors, such as general, vocational, and higher education, and in relation to lifelong learning, and the impact these have on learners from different social groups. Issues of social class, gender, race and disability are discussed. Drawing on theories of the sociology of education, we will look at educational inequalities (in relation to, for example, educational attainment, access and progression) and the factors that shape them.
We will critique particular policy initiatives, such as in relation to widening participation and special educational needs. We will explore these from a macro-perspective (including the political and economic conditions that have shaped policy), at the level of educational institutions (the 'meso level') and at the level of the classroom and individual learners ('micro level').