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A longitudinal study exploring the educational experiences and perceptions of students who have been identified as able in the context of a challenging school

By Susan Maria Williamson


The aim of this study was to explore perceptions of educational experiences held by a group of students identified as able in the context of a challenging school. The study was conducted over a four year period, with a focus on the end of KS3, during KS4, and the end of KS4. The study has explored the notion of ‘ability’, in particular the term gifted. I believe that ‘ability’ is a construct as opposed to the traditional essentialist view -and I have critiqued the mainstream perspective of giftedness and ‘disability/ability’, before considering an alternative, more inclusive approach. \ud The study involved ten students from ‘‘Greengate’’; a small urban school, located in a relatively deprived area of a northern English city. I interviewed each student four times over a period of four years, having set out to rectify an imbalance I had noted in traditional educational research whereby the students were theorized about or represented, rather than asked directly. I chose to give prominence to student voice, and my post-modern method of working with the data, and presenting my findings is partly as a consequence of my wish to avoid the pitfalls of representation.\ud I believe that the method I have used here to present the fragmentary and shifting nature of the truth as it appears to a person over time, complements the philosophy expressed throughout my study, namely that meaning shifts, and there is not one essential truth. \ud Whilst not having a conventional ‘findings’ section, a key strand running through the study is the issue of how and why, able students from lower working-class backgrounds do not tend to take up Higher Education pathways, as was shown with the ten able students in this study, who despite their substantial enrichment provision, and subsequent high attainment have not, yet, (with two exceptions) attended university. \u

Publisher: Department of Education (York)
Year: 2009
OAI identifier: oai:etheses.whiterose.ac.uk:986

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