This comparative qualitative study is about lower secondary comprehensive school and teachers´ perspectives towards equality and provision of individual need. The study is defined within the radical humanist paradigm, based on key elements from ideas of Habermas, Vygotsky and Bourdieu. The concepts of ideal speech situation, cultural tools, habitus and field are especially helpful to understand teachers´ perspectives and cultural contexts.
The research is located in England and Norway as a result of their historical and political similarities in the emphasis on a comprehensive school approach, but also because cultural differences are evident between the two countries. The English essentialism and Norwegian encyclopaedism are examples of these differences. The research design is based on narrative semi-structured interviews with a total of 19 teachers from lower secondary schools in the cities of Bradford and Oslo.
In comparing England and Norway, similarities were evident in the teachers´ interpretations of equality and individual need provision, but differences were also evident in their experiences of the same issues. The experiences of individual need provision in England was high, while a significant concern was directed to inequality of school access. In Norway, the equality of school access was high, but lack of individual need provision within the schools was evident. The cultural aspects were helpful in understanding these findings.