Summary: This paper explores the relationship between social backgrounds and geographical locations with mathematical achievement. Using the national testing system in Australia, correlations between the variables were explored and it was found that students from rural and low SES backgrounds are still being marginalised in school mathematics ‒ in terms of their success. This is despite 50 years since the first critical sociology of education noted the structural inequalities of education. For the authors this creates a challenge for researchers to consider better ways to understand the factors that may be impacting on mathematical achievement, particularly for those target groups within our study. The work of Bourdieu is used to frame the paper.