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Title: Choosing while black : examining Afro-Caribbean families' engagement with school choice in Birmingham
Author: Mazyck, Rachel Y.
ISNI:       0000 0004 2698 7755
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2009
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Over the past twenty years, parental choice has become the favoured Government policy governing school allocation and the dominant legislative approach for improving educational attainment. The existing sociological research on school choice has primarily focused on the ways in which families of different socioeconomic backgrounds have engaged with the process of listing preferences for secondary schools; while class has been emphasised, the choice processes of ethnic minorities have received little attention. Yet the persistent educational challenges faced by Afro-Caribbean students across class boundaries since the early years of migration to England raise questions about whether choice policies’ promise of improved academic performance extends to all ethnic groups. This study focuses on Afro-Caribbean families and their engagement with the process of selecting secondary schools in Birmingham. Twenty individual families in semi-structured interviews and ten additional mothers in two focus groups shared their experiences of listing school preferences. To develop a fuller understanding of how these Afro-Caribbean families made their school choices, this study draws upon Courtney Bell’s (2005) application of ‘choice sets’ to education. Families’ choice sets – the schools which they perceived to be available options – were shaped by various factors, including past school experiences, the schools available in the local authority, and Birmingham’s school allocation criteria. Additionally, geographic considerations, the ethnic mix of a schools’ student population, and families’ access to social networks also influenced which schools families saw as possibilities. Ultimately, while there was no single ‘Afro-Caribbean’ way of selecting schools, this study highlights the circumstances and structures faced by many Afro-Caribbean families which constrained their choice sets, and consequently, the schools to which their children were allocated. Though this thesis is limited in its generalisability, its conclusions lay the foundations for future research into the ways in which ethnic identity is lived in the educational context.
Supervisor: Furlong, John ; Tomlinson, Sally Sponsor: Rhodes Trust
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Ethnic minorities and ethnicity ; Families,children and childcare ; Evaluation of social policies,programmes and practice ; ethnicity ; school choice ; education