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Discipline selection and pupil identities in a Fresh Start school :a case study

Araujo, M. M. O. P. (Marta Maria Oliveira Pacheco de) (2003) Discipline selection and pupil identities in a Fresh Start school :a case study. PhD thesis, Institute of Education, University of London.

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This thesis looks at education reform and the experiences of staff and pupils in a coeducational, multi-ethnic, comprehensive school that implemented Fresh Start, one of New Labour's flagship initiatives to 'raise standards'. The study is an ethnography that draws on semi-structured interviews, observation and the collection of key government and school documents. Particular attention is paid to issues of discipline, selection and the construction of pupil identities. I suggest that current official discourses are fixing 'problems' of indiscipline on pupils, downplaying its contextual nature. Specifically, I argue that key documents in education present discipline in a binary logic that defines pupils as either disruptive or disrupted. These positions are being reworked in school, with teachers defining as disruptive pupils perceived as having a bad attitude', and as disrupted those with particular cultural capital. Significantly, pupils positioned as disruptive are mainly boys of ethnic minority origins. This disadvantaging positioning is further compounded by processes of selection within the school. The splitting of the form under study helped to reinforce African Caribbean and Turkish pupils' positioning as disruptive. Setting, increasingly used under New Labour's 'modern comprehensive principle', also closes down the educational opportunities of some ethnic minority pupils at Greenfield Comprehensive, through the disproportionate allocation to the lower sets in Science of pupils with English as an Additional Language. This and other factors (such as ethnicity, gender and class) helped to shape the range of schooling identities available to pupils. I conclude that in spite of the ambivalence entailed in the process of identity formation the school is hardening pupils' identities into opposite positions, overlooking the commitment of pupils seen as 'problematic' and downplaying the misbehaviour of 'ideal' pupils. I suggest that a post-structuralist approach is needed to explain the fragility and complexity of pupils' schooling identities, alongside a modified version of the concept of polarisation to understand how these are being hardened at the school.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Additional Information: Thesis: (PhD) University of London Institute of Education, 2003.
Depositing User: Batch Import
Date Deposited: 29 Oct 2014 10:55
Last Modified: 27 Jul 2015 13:35
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