Journal of Education Policy, 25(3) pp 385-396
This paper explores the complex ways in which the marketisation of education and the associated publication of performance data have contributed to the emergence of a new politics of recognition which has paradoxically served further to naturalise educational inequalities. Of all the reforms associated with subjecting education to market forces, it is the publication of ‘league tables’ of raw performance data which has sparked the most controversy. These tables have provoked a range of criticisms from educational professionals and practitioners concerning their reductionist nature, their misleading attribution of outcomes to institutional processes rather than intake variables and their potentially damaging side‐effects. These league tables can be said to constitute a form of cultural injustice. In order to counter this injustice, a new politics of recognition has emerged which seeks to valorise the performance of disadvantaged schools and which can be seen in the development of alternative and ‘value‐added’ league tables. This paper argues that there are a number of difficulties and dangers inherent within this new politics of recognition. These relate to the impossibility of separating a school from its context, the displacement of a politics of redistribution and the increasing naturalisation of inequalities.