In this paper we propose a social psychological framework for studying the role of schools in promoting positive intercultural relations. We draw on data from schools in England where addressing issues of cultural diversity is a key aim of educational practice. We focus specifically on the role of social context in educational activities that tackle discrimination. We consider the socio-political context, local community context, and immediate school context from a social representations theory perspective. Using data from interviews with staff and focus groups with students in schools from three very different localities, we show that the socio-political context may limit schools’ ability to promote positive intercultural relations but also that it is possible for schools to promote broader change from the bottom-up, acting as agents of change at a societal level, i.e. in terms of changing the local and broader societal contexts in which they are located.