DOI: 10.12924/si2013.01020102 |Publication Date: 11 November 2013

Social Justice and Lower Attainers in a Global Knowledge Economy

Sally Tomlinson
Department of Education, University of Oxford, UK
Abstract: National governments believe that higher levels of educational attainments and training are necessary for successful competition in knowledge-driven economies and all young people are urged to invest in their own human capital and learn new skills. Moves towards inclusive education have brought into mainstream schools and colleges many who would formerly have been segregated in special schooling or otherwise given minimum education, joining those simply regarded as lower attainers. More research is needed on what is happening to all these young people who do not do well in competitive education systems and uncertain job markets. This article is taken from a study which set out to discuss with school and college principals, local administrators, teachers and others, who they regard as lower attainers, what sort of education and training programmes are offered to the students, and what policies they think are in place to help young people into work or independent living. Discussions were held with respondents in England, Germany, the USA, Finland and Malta. The article takes Rawls' view that social injustice is mainly due to the inequitable distribution of economic and social resources and the State has a responsibility to ensure that all young people can participate in the economy and the society.

Keywords: global economy; low attainment; special educational needs; vocational training

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