The educational experiences and reflexive capacities of care leavers in one Local Authority in England

Matchett, Elaine (2020) The educational experiences and reflexive capacities of care leavers in one Local Authority in England. Doctoral thesis, Birmingham City University.

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Abstract

This study provides a distinctive insight into the educational experiences of recent care leavers in one Local Authority. Policies and practices that enable or constrain the capacity of children in care to fulfil their educational aspirations are examined. This study demonstrates the importance and complexity of trusting peers and key adults, the value of education, the challenges imposed by the prospect of premature independence and the significance of clothing, food and terminology associated with the care system. Findings from this study contribute to the developing body of research that highlights the importance of everyday experiences for young people in care (Mannay et al, 2019; 2017; Rees, 2019; Rees and Munro, 2019; Narey and Owers, 2017; Rogers, 2017 and Selwyn and Briheim-Crookall, 2017).
This study foregrounds the voices of care experienced young people. Insights have been gained from semi-structured interviews with twenty-one young people aged between eighteen and twenty-seven years of age and three key members of Children’s Services in one Local Authority. Participants discussed the importance of relationships with key adults and peers, the complexity of disclosing their care status, their commitment to education and concerns regarding the terminology employed in the care system. Participants clearly articulated their educational and career aspirations and modes of reflexivity (Archer, 2012; 2010; 2007; 2003; 2000). This study identifies that generalised teachers appear to offer support far beyond their statutory responsibilities. The Designated Teacher role was less well received by participants and this finding would benefit from further research.
Relevant national policies since 1989 are examined with a particular focus on policies since New Labour came to office in 1997. The impact of these policies is also considered in the context of the selected Local Authority. Analysis of these policies highlighted increased levels of Local Authority accountability and a period of targets for improved social and academic outcomes during Blair’s tenure. Subsequent governments removed these targets and reduced tax relief for parents and funding for programmes such as Sure Start. Since 2010 there has been an increase in targeted programmes such as Troubled Families (Ministry of Housing, Community and Local Government, 2011), Staying Put (DfE, 2014) and higher levels of Pupil Premium funding. Literature is also considered with a clear emphasis on the challenges of social and routine aspects of a life in care. Archer’s theory of internal conversations and modes of reflexivity is utilised to understand how participants navigate their circumstances and plan in both the shorter and longer term (2012; 2010; 2007; 2003; 2000). Archer’s notion of the internal conversation illuminates the decisions, plans and priorities of care experienced young people. An adaption of Archer’s modes of reflexivity is suggested. The proposed adaption ‘reluctant autonomy’ aims to capture the sense of enforced and premature self-reliance which many participants highlighted in their interview.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Date: 7 July 2020
Uncontrolled Keywords: Care system Care leavers Foster care Reflexivity Staying Put
Subjects: L300 Sociology
X100 Training Teachers
X900 Others in Education
Divisions: REF UoA Output Collections > Doctoral Theses Collection
Depositing User: Elaine Matchett
Date Deposited: 21 Sep 2020 13:09
Last Modified: 21 Sep 2020 13:09
URI: http://www.open-access.bcu.ac.uk/id/eprint/9895

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