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Title: Performance vs. authenticity : a qualitative study of a Muslim primary school in superdiverse London
Author: Evans, Thomas
ISNI:       0000 0004 7231 7947
Awarding Body: UCL (University College London)
Current Institution: University College London (University of London)
Date of Award: 2018
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This thesis is a qualitative study of a Muslim school and the community it serves in the London borough of “Queensbridge.” My research is predominantly based on semi-structured interviews with 36 participants including teachers, governors, administrative staff, parents, community members and former pupils of “Zamzam Primary School” (ZPS). Participants celebrated Queensbridge for its superdiversity, which facilitated the practice of their faith as a religious minority, whilst critiquing the area for its poverty and crime. The two defining features of the Muslim school were seen to be an Islamic ethos and curriculum, although the latter differed very little from the British national curriculum. Many participants viewed ZPS as an innocence preserving bubble and suggested pupils would encounter challenges when entering the state system. Conversely, some informants asserted that popular culture infiltrated this “cocoon,” a set of circumstances compounded by Ofsted interventions that required the school to conform to a neoliberal ideology of education. I also address participants’ motivations to become teachers and work in a Muslim school. The most commonly cited reasons were opportunities to observe, express and impart an Islamic identity and practices unimpeded. Negatives ranged from scant resources, institutional disorganisation, failed fellowship and superficial spirituality. Parents enrolled their children in ZPS to ground them in their religion whilst acquiring the necessary skills for career based success and social mobility. Former pupils of ZPS celebrated the intimate, communal and supportive space in which they studied. This study seeks to provide an accurate and detailed image of a British Muslim community and its school. It also identifies and explores the tensions experienced by members of Zamzam Primary and the wider Queensbridge community regarding performance and authenticity in a faith school which aspired to implement Islamic ideals, whilst operating within a secular political system.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available