Wellbeing, Equity and Education

A Critical Analysis of Policy Discourses of Wellbeing in Schools

  • Jennifer Spratt

Part of the Inclusive Learning and Educational Equity book series (ILEE, volume 1)

Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-xi
  2. Jennifer Spratt
    Pages 1-10
  3. Jennifer Spratt
    Pages 11-21
  4. Jennifer Spratt
    Pages 23-33
  5. Jennifer Spratt
    Pages 35-56
  6. Jennifer Spratt
    Pages 69-84
  7. Jennifer Spratt
    Pages 129-135
  8. Back Matter
    Pages 137-147

About this book


This book critically examines multiple discourses of wellbeing in relation to the composite aims of schooling. Drawing from a Scottish study, the book disentangles the discursive complexity, to better understand what can happen in the name of wellbeing, and in particular, how wellbeing is linked to learning in schools. Arguing that educational discourses have been overshadowed by discourses of other groups, the book examines the political and ideological policy aims that can be supported by different discourses of wellbeing. It also uses interview data to show how teachers and policy actors accepted, or re-shaped and remodelled the policy discourses as they made sense of them in their own work. 

When addressing schools’ responses to inequalities, discussions are often framed in terms of wellbeing. Yet wellbeing as a concept is poorly defined and differently understood across academic and professional disciplines such as philosophy, psychology, health promotion, and social care.  Nonetheless, its universally positive connotations allow policy changes to be ushered in, unchallenged. Powerful actions can be exerted through the use of soft vocabulary as the discourse of wellbeing legitimates schools’ intervention into personal aspects of children’s lives. As educators worldwide struggle over the meaning and purpose of schooling, discourses of wellbeing can be mobilised in support of different agendas. This book demonstrates how this holds both dangers and opportunities for equality in education. Amartya Sen’s Capability Approach is used to offer a way forward in which different understandings of wellbeing can be drawn together to offer a perspective that enhances young people’s freedoms in education and their freedoms gained through education.


critical discourse analysis and wellbeing wellbeing, social justice and schools discourses of wellbeing recontextualization of discourse wellbeing and learning curriculum of excellence neoliberalism and wellbeing in schools wellbeing, equity and education capability approach and wellbeing in schools wellbeing policy in education Scottish education policy education and human capital

Authors and affiliations

  • Jennifer Spratt
    • 1
  1. 1.School of EducationUniversity of AberdeenAberdeenUnited Kingdom

Bibliographic information