Our voices, our images, our story : : children’s lived experience in DEIS (Delivering Equality of Opportunity in Schools) primary schools in Ireland.

Campion, Gemma and Ingram, Nicola (2019) Our voices, our images, our story : : children’s lived experience in DEIS (Delivering Equality of Opportunity in Schools) primary schools in Ireland. PhD thesis, Lancaster University.

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In Ireland Delivering Equality of Opportunity in Schools (DEIS): The Action Plan for Educational Inclusion was launched in May 2005 and remains the Department of Education and Skills (DES) policy instrument to combat educational disadvantage. The action plan focuses on prioritising the educational needs of working class children from disadvantaged communities. Qualitative studies into the DEIS initiative at primary school level which prioritise pupil voice are disappointingly limited. This thesis puts forward the argument that in the interest of a social justice perspective and inclusive practices it is essential that working class voices and experiences of those who receive the DEIS programme ought to be at the forefront of any review of the policy. Hence, this thesis draws from a narrative inquiry study of a diverse group of 41 pupils (aged 11 and 12) from three DEIS Urban Band 1 primary schools in a provincial city in Ireland. The pupils engaged in one on one interviews, pair interviews and created drawings to portray their school experience. The study explores how pupils navigate school whilst trying to keep a sense of self and the implications of this on their identity, wellbeing and engagement. The study highlights the power of the school as the dominant culture in producing acts of symbolic violence and what I refer to as punished habitus that inculcate feelings of inferiority and self-doubt in working class pupils. Pupils proffered the notion that to be successful in school the only viable option was to conform to the middle class norms and behaviours. This enforced compliance to the institutional habitus led to an anxiety of self-management as pupils indicated altering their identities to allow for habitus-field congruency. This led to a constant self-monitoring of behaviours. I introduce the concept of resigned habitus to explore this abandonment of their originary habitus at the school gate. This study challenges the deficit model of working class culture and presents a more nuanced understanding of how class is experienced and internalized in DEIS primary schools, and by doing so, shines a light on the affective dimension of schooling.

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Thesis (PhD)
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07 Feb 2020 12:40
Last Modified:
05 May 2024 23:18