Much has been written about the demise of social class and other meta-narratives such as gender and nationality. The advent of consumerism and globalisation and the decline of Marxism as a political and intellectual force worldwide have at the very least complicated the view that our social positions, identities and affiliations are governed by conventional material differences. Similarly, within education, the conventional view that children of different class backgrounds are mapped onto different class trajectories as they move through the school system has been challenged by an educational establishment committed to raising the standards of all children and ensuring that at least half of all young people have access to higher education. However, despite the rise of the ‘individual’ and the overall economic well-being of many developed countries, material differences between groups within society are widening. In a UNICEF report on the state of the world’s children it was reported

that the proportion of children living in poverty in the developed world has risen in 17 out of the 24 OECD nations for which data are available. No matter which of the commonly used poverty measures is applied, the situation of children has deteriorated over the last decade.