Reimagining family literacy: co-creating pedagogies with migrating mothers in third sector spaces

Puttick, Mary-Rose (2021) Reimagining family literacy: co-creating pedagogies with migrating mothers in third sector spaces. Doctoral thesis, Birmingham City University.

MaryRosePuttick BCU FINAL thesis.pdf - Submitted Version

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Mothers from diverse migration contexts are potentially isolated from family literacy classes in UK Government-funded adult education provision due to restrictive eligibility, attendance and achievement criteria: ultimately creating an unmet gap in educational support. Historically, Government-funded family literacy provision in England has been delivered in partnership with primary schools and children’s centres: thereby predominantly serving the interests of schools and the State. It is proposed in this research that family literacy in the funded sector has been dominated by colonially-rooted Western concepts of parenting, parent-child collaboration, and school-centric literacies wherein migrating parents are considered in deficit terms.

The UK’s third sector is widely diverse, with many refugee and community organisations operating ‘below-the-radar’, operating a complex multi-layered approach of support for families from refugee and newly arrived migration contexts at political, social and educational levels as soon as they enter the UK. Family literacy provision in the third-sector is under-researched and thereby open to alternative interpretations from the perspectives of parents from diverse migration contexts: importantly, perspectives that are inclusive to mothers experiencing transient living conditions as a result of their migration status.

This practice-based research took place over two-years in two third sector community organisations in the West Midlands: one a Somali community centre with Somali mothers who had secondary school aged children and attended the class alone; and the second a refugee charity with Afghani, Kurdish and Albanian mothers who attended the classes with their children under the age of four. All of the mothers came from refugee, asylum seeking and EU migration contexts. For the purpose of this research, an exploratory family literacy space was established at each setting, with no set curriculum or links to school-based assessment measures, as a purposeful diversion from the teacher-researcher’s previous teaching practice in government-funded provision.

Using arts-based methods, including artefacts and mapping, the mothers mobilised the research into affectual and sensory dimensions that in turn shaped the evolving methodology: culminating in a ‘Pedago-Vis-ual Assemblage’. Theoretically, the research expands understanding of family literacy teaching and learning in the ‘posts’: transitioning from Western-dominated definitions of family literacy from its traditional humanist roots towards postcolonial feminist and posthuman ways of knowing. Methodologically, the research foregrounds ways that Indigenous principles can be mobilised with politically marginalised groups and proposes the essential deconstructed identity work of the Western teacher-researcher that must accompany this. The research initiates new ways of thinking about the family, and family literacy teaching and learning, that is accumulated relationally and in synergy with the environment: in which each part is always affected, entangled and changing. The thesis culminates in a reimagining of an alternative family literacy provision, termed ‘PoCo FamLit’, with recommendations for policy, practitioner-led research practice, and voluntary teaching practice.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
10 August 2021Completed
Uncontrolled Keywords: family literacy, pedagogies, third sector, refugees, co-production, assemblage
Subjects: CAH22 - education and teaching > CAH22-01 - education and teaching > CAH22-01-01 - education
CAH15 - social sciences > CAH15-04 - health and social care > CAH15-04-01 - social work
Divisions: Faculty of Health, Education and Life Sciences > School of Education and Social Work
Doctoral Research College > Doctoral Theses Collection
Depositing User: Kip Darling
Date Deposited: 05 Sep 2021 20:48
Last Modified: 12 Jan 2022 17:22

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