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How Can Teachers of English Achieve Equity in their English Classrooms? A case study on how teachers use intersectionality and intersectional pedagogy in the English classroom to address educational inequalities and facilitate their pupils' differing needs.

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

  • Sophia Kapcia
Publication date2024
Number of pages247
Awarding Institution
Award date4/01/2024
  • Lancaster University
<mark>Original language</mark>English


An intersectional perspective refers to how different aspects of a person's social, racial, and political identities interact to create discrimination. There has been extensive research on the concept of intersectionality, in terms of how different forms of oppression interact and work together in complex ways to create different outcomes for individuals and groups; however, little is known about what intersectional interventions and strategies work to increase pupil attainment and aspirations in English classrooms. Additionally, there is a lack of empirical data which is necessary to substantiate intersectionality theory when it comes to English classrooms predominantly composed of working-class pupils. Therefore, the findings of this thesis are of interest not only to teachers and schools but also to education policymakers because they build on the small number of qualitative studies exploring the relationship between English and intersectionality and extend this literature by improving our understanding of this relationship.

In this thesis, I explore how teachers use intersectionality and intersectional pedagogy in the English classroom to address educational inequalities and facilitate pupils' differing needs, resulting in a sense of inclusivity and equity for all pupils. This thesis therefore uses intersectionality to irradiate the experiences of Teachers of English in predominantly working-class school contexts, and the impact intersectionality and intersectional pedagogies have on teaching quality for pupils from different genders, races, and social backgrounds. Qualitative interviews with 20 Teachers of English and two focus groups with six teachers each were conducted to investigate this issue, and thematic analysis was applied to analyse the data. Intersectionality theory was used to give voice to the voices of teachers as they navigate the curriculum and the classroom to provide a more equitable education for their pupils. Intersectionality theory also helps teachers to ensure that the invisible voices in their classrooms are heard by ensuring that race and ethnicity, gender, social class, disadvantage, disability and more of these many diverse voices are heard in the English curriculum which then will be reflected in their lesson planning.

As well as knowing their students, having a thorough understanding of their cultural background and being able to engage in sometimes sensitive and difficult conversations with students, the findings show that embedding intersectionality in the English curriculum and English classrooms requires deliberate practice and planning by teachers. This deliberate practice is necessary to create an inclusive learning space that challenges the traditional power structures within the English classroom. Through this practice, teachers can focus on the various identities and experiences of their students to ensure that all voices are heard and valued. In addition, the findings suggest that if intersectionality strategies and interventions they are adopted more widely they can assist teachers and schools in finding common ground and understanding across different educational settings. To address underachievement and educational inequality, classrooms should be more equitable in order to create an environment that fosters a sense of diversity and inclusion so that pupils of all racial, social, and economic backgrounds can succeed. This will directly benefit pupils from working-class backgrounds.