0-19 Book Review – Children at the margins: supporting children, supporting schools

Children at the margins: Supporting children, supporting

Edited by Tom Billington and Michael Pomerantz, Trentham
Books (2004) 


ISBN I 85856 324 0

Star Rating 4/5

Children can become marginalised within the education system as
a result of pathologising. This means that a label is applied which
places the blame for the condition on the child, rather than the
context or community which produces it. The result of this medical
model is to exacerbate educational failure and social

Vulnerable groups include pupils who may be described as violent
or challenging, pupils who have additional special educational
needs, children who are seriously socially disadvantaged, or whose
cultural status may already be marginalised.

Current educational psychology practice may be exacerbating the
problem by adding to the labelling process, but this need not be
so. Billington and Pomerantz have brought together contributions
from educational psychologists who consider aspects of their role
in the school and the community and seek to challenge theories and
practices that serve to marginalise children.

Adopting a social model rather than a medical model, looks at
removing disabling barriers such as attitudes and practices and
focuses on changing them, rather than “adjusting” the child to fit
the current system. A key to this, as advocated by most of the
contributors, is to listen to the child, to make their wishes the
cornerstone of future actions relating to them.  Children who feel
heard are more likely to engage meaningfully.

While many readers of 0-19 would agree wholeheartedly with these
sentiments, are there any clear directions for forward progress?
The problem needs tackling at institutional, group and individual
levels. Several interventions in schools are described and
evaluated, such as approaches to ADHD, and including disabled

The book is lively and provocative, perhaps a little short of
clear forward directions for practitioners who wish to be part of
the solution, not part of the problem.

John Gott is an educational psychologist,



h:\sen-eps staff\john gott\children at the margins.doc

h:\sen-eps staff\john gott\children at the margins.doc


More from Community Care

Comments are closed.