Alice Olivier Anne-Claudine Oller Agnès van Zanten

Channelling students into higher education in French secondary schools and the re-production of educational inequalities. Discourses and devices

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This article focuses on differences between French secondary schools regarding how students are channelled into higher education (HE) and the impact of these processes on educational inequalities. The concept of channelling is used to analyse how school professionals adapt their guidance practices according to both students' academic and social status and their predicted futures. Drawing on ethnographic data from two schools in Paris, we provide a detailed examination of school professionals' discourses and of institutional devices orienting students' higher education choices. The interpretations involve four different themes: how and how much school professionals engage with the transition to HE; the explicit and implicit messages regarding HE guidance present in their words and actions; the routes they encourage students to take or to avoid; and the rationale behind these practices. The conclusions emphasise the inequalities across schools in terms of the amount and type of attention that students receive and the kind of educational horizons that are presented to them.


  • Channelling
  • Educational Inequalities
  • Higher Education
  • Secondary Education


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