Some theories to explain the relationship between school failure and delinquency are examined. It is argued that it is the condition of status deprivation through being given a low rank on the status hierarchy of the school that leads to delinquency. Policies of equality of opportunity achieve a reordering of children on the hierarchy, but leave the hierarchy itself intact. Delinquency may be part of a more general pathology which arises from competitiveness in schools.