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An Ethnographic Exploration of the Starting School Transition within an English school

Cartmell, KM (2018) An Ethnographic Exploration of the Starting School Transition within an English school. Doctoral thesis, Liverpool John Moores University.

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Abstract

This research aimed to investigate the starting school transition by exploring how the transition from home and/or nursery was being understood, interpreted and experienced by school staff, parents and children. Furthermore, it aimed to explore the discourses that surround the transitional experience and gain an understanding of how they may impact upon the daily experience. It found that the parents and children socially constructed the transition using the discursive notion of a ‘good’ school child (Thornberg, 2009) which was understood to represent one who is able to follow the rules, carry out the work and listen to adults. Additionally, the parents appeared to be drawing on a number of discourses (e.g. ‘good’ parents and ‘pushy’ parents) that impacted upon their overall experience of the transition and which also impacted their understanding of what the concept was about. This is because the discourses meant that the parents were peripherally positioned (Davies and Harré, 1990; 1999) within the child’s transitional experience, even though they are positioned within the wider schooling discourse as being equal partners (DfE, 2010b; 4Children, 2015). During the transitional experience, three discursive practices were observed that helped the children understand what a ‘good’ school child was and how he or she was being constructed. These were the three R’s of transition: the use of school routines, school rules and the reduction of the children’s rights. These disciplinary tools (Foucault, 1982) were used in a manner in which they shaped the children’s behaviour and expectations of the schooling experience. Finally, these tools also allowed the children to be positioned and repositioned (Drewery, 2005) in a variety of ways. These positions were related to the ‘good’ school child notion entwined with this transition. However, the use of agency (Devine, 1998; James, 2011) in the uptake or refusal of these positions was also observed meaning the children had a choice in the position they were given by others or which they produced for themselves. The research concludes by suggesting that the social construction of the transition by families and individual schools and their communities needs to be considered when anticipating the support required for this transition. Attention needs to be paid to the positioning of the parents and their ability to offer support to their child’s experience and also to the positions made available within the classroom for the children to take up. A number of suggestions are made that will assist the overall experience stemming from the starting school transition.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Uncontrolled Keywords: Educational Transition; Childhood; Parenting; Power; Discourses; Starting School; School Child
Subjects: L Education > L Education (General)
L Education > LB Theory and practice of education > LB1501 Primary Education
Divisions: School of Education
Date Deposited: 15 May 2018 08:32
Last Modified: 15 May 2018 08:32
DOI or Identification number: 10.24377/LJMU.t.00008522
Supervisors: Wood, P and Bath, C
URI: http://researchonline.ljmu.ac.uk/id/eprint/8522

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