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Title: The roles and positions of teaching assistants in two urban primary schools : an ethnographic study of educational work and urban social change
Author: Mansaray, Ayodele Abdul
ISNI:       0000 0004 2722 3896
Awarding Body: Institute of Education, University of London
Current Institution: University College London (University of London)
Date of Award: 2012
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Teaching assistants (TAs) are a growing and important occupational group within the primary school workforce. A poorly paid, low-status group, TAs have underpinned various policies and practices of inclusion within mainstream schools in recent times. In the urban context, research suggests that TAs can be agents of inclusion for marginalised and working-class pupils, as they are able to intermediate the dominant cultural and social processes of schooling and contribute to pedagogic action. Within this literature, it is assumed that the basis of this mediation rests on TAs' own sociocultural identities and positions with the urban order. Yet there has been little sociological analysis on the formation of TAs' identities and positions within the social class contexts of urban schools, and particularly in relation to the dynamic conditions specified by gentrification. The study adopts an ethnographic approach, comprising 18 months of participant observation and interviewing within two primary schools in Inner London from 2004- 2005. Theoretically, the thesis draws extensively from the work of Pierre Bourdieu - namely his concepts of habitus, field, and capitals - and from Erving Goffman and Randall Collins the concept of interaction ritual. Using this critical-theoretic framework, this thesis highlights the contrasting impact of gentrification in setting the contexts of urban schooling and the role of headship; the shaping influence of social class, career, gender, and race/ethnicity on assistants' trajectories and transitions into TA work, and how these formations influence the positions TAs occupy; and the different cultural, social and symbolic contributions TAs make to the institutional order. This study demonstrates the interconnections and transpositions of experiences and perspectives between the narrow institutional spaces of TAs' working lives and the wider social spaces of the neighbourhood. There is also a view to opening up new methodological spaces and integrating the study of assistants' working lives and roles within the concerns of the sociology of education.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available