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Systemic Social Segregation

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This chapter provides an overview of the divided education system in Northern Ireland (which retains the selective grammar school system), before introducing the two schools at the heart of the research. It highlights the divisiveness of academic selection by presenting data on achievement at grammar and secondary schools, and compares this with wider UK data from comprehensive schools, showing that in Northern Ireland, there is a higher percentage of low-achieving young people than in the rest of the UK. The chapter will consider in detail the differences in the two schools in the study by drawing on ethnographic data, including observations, notes from discussions with teachers and pupils as well as interview data and colourful ‘school reflections’ narrated by the boys.