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Title: Preparing for life beyond school : a capability approach to post-16 education
Author: Wimborne, Oliver James
ISNI:       0000 0004 7224 2025
Awarding Body: King's College London
Current Institution: King's College London (University of London)
Date of Award: 2018
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The aim of this thesis is to explore how post-16 education prepares young people for life beyond school. It does this by drawing on the work of Amartya Sen and Martha Nussbaum to develop a capability approach to education, which pays specific attention to the freedoms and achievements that young people secure through their education. The thesis argues that post-16 education is uniquely well-positioned to support capability development for individual students and that under the current policy framework this aspect of education or schooling is underappreciated. This thesis draws conclusions from an empirical study carried out at an inner-city London academy sixth-form. As part of this study, 20 students participated in a series of interviews that explored their day-to-day school experiences and their reasons for valuing particular ‘beings and doings’ related to their post-16 education. These interviews are analysed with use of Grounded Theory and evaluated with use of a capability approach framework. The discussion focuses on how each of these student narratives reveal the ways in which the post-16 setting can serve to enhance and diminish the quality of life of students: making available or withholding resources and opportunities for capability development. The discussion of the thesis presents the ideal form of post-16 education as an autonomy-building process, in which young people are encouraged to be agents in the post-16 setting. On this account, the post-16 setting acts as a site for ‘identity work’ in which multiple forms of agency are made possible in order for students to explore what kinds of life they value. A line of argument is developed that presents capability development as consisting of deep practices of agency, which are dependent upon the quality of freedom and opportunities available to them. Here, emphasis is placed on the need for schools to be highly individuating institutions, where the development of young people can take place in social-ecological niches. In this regard, there are important structural forces created by the school that condition the kinds of agency students might practice and can therefore advantage or disadvantage student capability development. Beyond this, an account of internal capabilities is offered, arguing that these furnish students with a relational view of the world: assisting them with determining where they stand in relation to their past, their community, their present commitments, their imagined future, and the things they have reason to value. A ‘good post-16 education’, therefore, is one in which individual students are able to develop their internal capabilities in an environment that recognises individuality and autonomy as fundamental to preparing young people for life beyond school.
Supervisor: Cribb, Alan ; Gewirtz, Sharon Josie Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available