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Complicity and contestation in the gentrifying urban primary school

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3076-3091
Issue number14
Early online date21 Nov 2017
Accepted/In press21 Sep 2017
E-pub ahead of print21 Nov 2017
Published1 Nov 2018


King's Authors


The transformation of primary schools in gentrifying localities has sometimes been referred to as a form of ‘class colonisation’. This article draws on ethnographic research with teachers, teaching assistants and parents in two inner-London primary schools to explore the largely unexamined role of school leaders (headteachers) in mediating gentrification processes within urban schools. It argues that institutional history, contexts of headship and leadership style all play an important role in negotiating and recontextualising middle-class mobilisation and power to re-shape primary schools. Headteachers’ relationship to gentrification is therefore not simply one of complicity, but often of contestation and conflict. This article therefore challenges understandings of gentrification as a hegemonic process, and contributes to a more nuanced picture of the educational consequences of gentrification, particularly the institutional realities and experiences of urban social change.

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