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'That queue is just for white people. Is that one for black ones? Where do I go then?' : mixed heritage children's experiences of school

Lewis, Kirstin (2013) 'That queue is just for white people. Is that one for black ones? Where do I go then?' : mixed heritage children's experiences of school. PhD thesis, Institute of Education, University of London .

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Abstract

In inner London 7.5% of the school population is of mixed heritage, yet little is known about their experiences in the education system. Data from the 2001 Census shows that over half of mixed heritage children under the age of 16 have social backgrounds that suggest a strong middle class dimension, yet, as a group, they have persistently underachieved at school. This challenges associations between social class and success at school suggesting that other factors might well influence school experience. This thesis explores how mixed heritage children's school experiences are shaped by the ways in which others perceive their identities and make assumptions about their lives, based mainly on the colour of their skin. It examiners why some children are more able to develop the resilience to cope with these experiences than others. An inductive approach to data gathering was used. Exploratory interviews were conducted with an opportunity sample, semi structured interviews with education professionals and focus groups with a small-scale sample of mixed heritage children in an inner London Borough. Themes that emerged challenge suggestions that we have moved to a point where ethnic and racial groupings are less relevant than data on children's social backgrounds, suggesting that all mixed heritage children, regardless of social background, experienced racial discrimination, teachers' inaccurate perceptions about their identities and backgrounds and low expectations of their abilities and aptitude for learning. Whilst educational professionals explained that they knew little about these children and were unaware of any issues they faced, children appeared to be "invisible" at school, absent from policies and curriculum materials. Many lacked opportunities to discuss their identities both at home and school. These issues particularly influenced boys' school experiences. Whilst this research enables many mixed heritage childrens's voices to be heard for the first time, it argues that the challenges many face present a threat to their capacity to fulfil their potential and their sense of belonging in the school community.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Controlled Keywords: Philosophy of Education
Subjects: Departments > Lifelong and Comparative Education
Depositing User: Mr Graeme Naylor
Date Deposited: 13 Feb 2014 09:27
Last Modified: 24 Jun 2015 12:21
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