The Working Classroom

How to make school work for working-class students

By: Matt Bromley , Andy Griffith


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Products specifications
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Size234 x 156mm
PublishedMarch 2024

Written by Matt Bromley and Andy Griffith, The Working Classroom: How to make school work for working-class students offers practical strategies and tools to help secondary schools address the needs of working-class students, including by building cultural capital and designing more engaging learning.

Schools do amazing work to support children from disadvantaged backgrounds. But this book will enable them to do more. Disadvantage comes in many forms, but cultural poverty, where some students have relative knowledge gaps compared with their more affluent peers, can be addressed successfully by schools. The Working Classroom explores how working-class students are disadvantaged by a flawed system and what schools can do to close the gap.

Written by two experienced authors with a deep understanding of the challenges that poverty and low aspiration can bring, and a passion for social justice, The Working Classroom examines how and why we must seek systemic changes. The book focuses on actions within the control of teachers and school leaders which will ensure that we create a socially just education system – one that builds on the rich heritage of the working-class, rather than seeing their background as a weakness. It offers practical ways for students and families to build on the best of working-class culture, whilst also empowering teachers, students and parents to change the system.

The Working Classroom provides teachers with useful methods to improve the cultural capital of students from disadvantaged backgrounds that can be easily replicated and implemented in their own setting. Backed up by practical case studies that have a proven impact in schools with high levels of deprivation, this book will enable teachers to audit their current provision and encourage them to adopt new systems and practices so that they, and the wider school, will have a greater impact on the lives of working-class students and their families.

Suitable for both teachers and leaders in a secondary school or sixth form college setting who seek to support social change in education and anyone in the corporate or non-education world who wants to practice effective altruism or philanthropy.

Picture for author Matt Bromley

Matt Bromley

Matt Bromley is an education writer and advisor with over twenty years’ experience in teaching and leadership including as a secondary school headteacher, FE college vice principal, and multi-academy trust director. Matt is a journalist, public speaker, ITT lecturer, and school improvement advisor. He also remains a practising teacher, working in secondary, FE and HE settings. Matt writes for various magazines, is the author of numerous best-selling books on education, and co-hosts the award-winning SecEd podcast.

Picture for author Andy Griffith

Andy Griffith

Andy Griffith has a proven track record for creating high impact training courses and interventions with students, teachers and leaders. His major career motivation is for education to be an engine for social justice. In the past seven years, alongside his school development work, Andy has developed programmes for students that have had a positive impact on their academic results as well as building their cultural capital.

Andy's work has been shortlisted in the Best Learning & Development Initiative - Public/Third Sector category of the 2018 CIPD People Management Awards.


  1. Deftly written, expertly organized, and thoroughly 'reader friendly' in style and presentation, The Working Classroom is an ideal DIY instructional 'how-to' guide for both teachers and leaders in a secondary school or sixth form college settings who seek to support social change in education.

  2. The book is hugely compelling and engaging. The introduction goes straight for the jugular and actually leaves you feeling angry. Not angry in a ‘I hate the world’ sense. Angry in a ‘this isn’t right and we really must do something about it’ way. The book really taps into the inner moral purpose of why we do this job and why supporting working-class children is so important.

    If you are looking for a book full of waffle, self-indulgence and verbose language, this is not the book for you. If, like me, you want a book that will really make you pause, think, reflect and arm you with practical approaches, it is money well spent.

    Very few educational books have made me angry at the start and then filled me full of energy, drive and enthusiasm. The Working Classroom does that incredibly well. It is a genuine accomplishment.

  3. The Working Classroom transcends the realm of a mere book; it stands as a powerful catalyst for change.

    Within its pages, readers discover a practical guide that bridges the divide between what working-class students can achieve and the heights reached by their more privileged peers. What distinguishes this work is the authentic life stories interwoven throughout. Each author contributes a personal narrative that makes the content not only relatable but deeply engaging. This personal touch underscores the message that success is within reach for all.

    The book doesn't merely inspire—it equips. It provides actionable steps to empower working-class students, enabling them to thrive. I found the curriculum development ideas and the authors’ six-step approach particularly compelling. What truly enhances the book's effectiveness is that every theory and idea is substantiated with practical examples. This ensures that readers not only grasp the concepts but also gain the tools to translate them into action.

    The authors' unwavering commitment to enhancing educational equity shines through in every chapter. This book possesses the potential to empower, inspire, and revolutionise the lives of working-class students. 

  4. The Working Classroom should be essential reading for anyone concerned about the disadvantage gap in schools. It is both sensitive and punchy: sensitive in its framing of the considerable disadvantages for many pupils and punchy in its bold, yet workable, suggestions for addressing these.

  5. A compelling and important read. The justifiable anger that the authors feel about the inequities of our society and education system fizzes through the book. As they say, ‘We need to do more; we need to take affirmative action’. And The Working Classroom gives the educator scores of practical and inspiring ideas about what they can do to effect change, with uplifting case studies, planning templates, reflective questions and model lesson plans. This book is well researched, comprehensive, readable and well-timed. A must-read!

  6. Bromley and Griffith have produced a masterpiece with The Working Classroom. The investigation of injustices in our contemporary world, and how it is skewed against working class people has a depressing whiff of familiarity, but to offer practical solutions for educators to start to deliver social justice from within is a stroke of genius from the authors. The balance of championing working class culture in the classroom against the very real risk of thereby encouraging classism, is beautifully done. Read the book. Then be angry. Then, well, then, let's change the world.

  7. Excellence in any context is a judicious mix of high intention, sincere effort and intelligent execution. This is an excellent book: very well referenced, analytical, packed with stories and providing a commanding compendium of practical ideas for the classroom. The section on speaking, reading and writing is as succinct and authoritative as any teacher could wish for.

    The experienced authors assert that ‘much of this book has been written in anger… angered at how unequal our society has become’. They channel their anger skillfully in producing a text to support teachers and leaders who wish to make a particular difference for ‘the forgotten third’ in our schools. It is fifty years since I first entered a Brixton primary classroom - it is inspiring to read Matt Bromley’s and Andy Griffith’s contemporary, compelling narrative about changing children’s lives.

  8. As schools across the country grapple with the impact of both the cost of living crisis and deepening social inequality, this important book could not be more timely. It is an educational call to arms which is full of practical ideas and solutions to close the poverty-related attainment gap and enable all young people to thrive.

  9. This ground-breaking book achieves two vitally important objectives. First, it puts the elephant of social class firmly back in the centre of the room by clearly outlining the many reasons we should pay attention to inequalities of social class in education. Second, it tells the reader what we can do, as teachers and educators, to address those inequalities. In the Working Classroom Bromley and Griffith present bold and innovative plans that recognise and address the long-neglected need for affirmative action if we are to tackle the extensive class discrimination in education.  

  10. The Working Classroom is a thought provoking and challenging read. It unpicks the ways in which working class students are disadvantaged by an education system designed without them in mind and looks at some practical ways in which we as a profession could be doing more to improve the life chances of the disadvantaged. We all go into teaching in the hope that we can make a difference but Andy and Matt challenge those ideals by suggesting that unless we change what we are doing we are likely to be simply contributing to an educational regime which continues to fail those who start their learning journey in last place. Doing what we’ve always done perpetuates a system which is designed by the middle class for the middle class and continues to see the gap between the ‘haves’ and the ‘have nots’ widening.

  11. This book gives an excellent account of the role that social class plays in schools, the inequalities it causes, and ways that those in the education system can support students in reducing the inequalities they may face.

    The book is laid out in easy-to-read sections that are filled with anecdotes, ideas to improve practice and questions to allow for practitioner self-reflection. Whether you are looking to teach your students about social classes, start an extra-curricular club, become a more adaptive educator or enhance your current curriculum, this book contains all the ideas to help level the playing field and mitigate some of the effects of classism faced by your students.

    Everybody working in an education setting who wants to make a difference to their students’ lives should read this book.

  12. This book identifies the colossal barriers youngsters living in poverty face and then expertly weaves in the authors’ life experiences, observations from the classroom and academic research as ammunition for ‘Everyone being Exceptional’. It is a practicable collection of approaches for those of us at the chalkface who battle day to day for better outcomes for children living in poverty. This is a vital read for anybody working in schools providing the reader with a greater understanding of the complexities and difficulties youngsters living in poverty face and the strategies to overcome them. Living in poverty needs to be the tenth protected characteristic!

  13. This is a book that is on the side of the group of youngsters for whom the traditional classroom and the learning it offers is difficult to understand. Hard hitting, poignant, methodical and practical, it helps the teacher look through the eyes of the people they teach and see ways they could make the way they work enticing for the pupils and more enjoyable for themselves.

    Persuasive insights are supported with analysis of research and well-structured advice... a must for every staffroom and teachers who really care.

  14. This book deepens the understanding of the reasons why the odds are stacked against the working class in education and provides practical solutions to make a positive difference for these pupils in their classrooms. It can be a read all at once book but, more usefully for busy school practitioners, it can be dipped in and out of, to find strategies that have already been identified as making a difference elsewhere.

  15. A book that feels in touch with reality. Based upon sound research, with absolute relevance to schools in challenging areas that serve a unique community. Lots of strategies to support working class pupils in making progress and overcoming obstacles to achieving their true potential. Focus on parental engagement and the importance of the curriculum - key highlights.

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