The Marginalisation and Co-created Education (MaCE) project was developed between the University of Southern Norway, VIA University in Denmark and the University of Cumbria in the UK and funded by Erasmus+. The project aims to co-create proposals to achieve an equitable and socially just education system through participative action research with ‘Early School Leavers’. This paper establishes a conceptual framework called ‘Equalities Literacy’ that evolved from the first action research cycle of the project. The framework is informed by the practice experience and theoretical knowledge of the international and interdisciplinary research team. It is applied to one youth narrative in this paper to illustrate its efficacy in revealing socio-cultural in/equalities. The Equalities Literacy framework is proposed to challenge and inform practice and further research. Further, the ‘Indirect Approach’ is introduced and located within action research as a participatory methodology that other researchers may wish to adopt.