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The aspirations and expectations of young people attending a Welsh-medium and an English-medium school in the South Wales Valley

Jones, Sion Llewelyn 2017. The aspirations and expectations of young people attending a Welsh-medium and an English-medium school in the South Wales Valley. PhD Thesis, Cardiff University.
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Abstract

This qualitative study explores the aspirations and expectations of fifty-two young people attending a Welsh-medium and an English-medium school in the South Wales Valleys (an area which has undergone significant and economic changes as a result of deindustrialisation). These young people were first interviewed at the start of Year 11 when they were considering their futures after compulsory education. Some of these young people were interviewed again approximately a year after to explore whether they were able to achieve their aspirations and to examine whether their long-term aspirations had changed. This study illustrates how wider trends such as the contraction of the youth labour market and increasing participation rates in further and higher education as well as transformations in the local labour market have changed the way in which young people understand their educational and employment prospects. Different to some of the young people in Brown’s (1987) Schooling Ordinary Kids study, all of the young people in this study aspired to stay in some form of education and training after Year 11. This study also identifies three types of students – The Academic Inheritors, the Academic Strivers and Vocational students – which differ in terms of their orientations to education and occupational futures. There are also variations between these types of students in terms of their social background, educational experiences and the character and usage of their social networks. The different types of students highlight the limitations of accounts which present Rational Choice Theory (associated with the work of Boudon (1974) and Goldthorpe (1998)) and Bourdieu’s Cultural Reproduction Theory as opposing/competing explanatory theories. This study also compared and contrasted the aspirations and expectations of young people who attended a Welsh-medium and an English-medium school. This study shows how school choice has an impact on the social composition of Welsh-medium and English-medium schools in South East Wales, with Welsh-medium schools on average having lower proportions of students from poorer households compared to English-medium schools. School choice provides some explanation for the differences between the aspirations of young people attending the Welsh-medium and the English-medium school in this study. This study offers a new analysis of the aspirations and expectations of young people finishing compulsory education, in a context of significant social and economic change. It also makes an original contribution by exploring the aspirations of young people who attend a Welsh-medium and an English-medium school – something which has not been explored in depth before by researchers. In addition, this study contributes towards debates regarding the extent that Rational Choice Theory and Bourdieu’s Cultural Reproduction Theory are able to explain young people’s aspirations and expectations. In attempting to explain differences in student orientations, it also shows that it is extremely difficult to empirically test the relative merits of these theories and as such contributes to existing discussions of educational opportunities and inequalities. This study also has policy implications regarding how key actors such as policymakers and schools can provide support to young people to fulfil and achieve their aspirations.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Date Type: Submission
Status: Unpublished
Schools: Social Sciences (Includes Criminology and Education)
Subjects: H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
L Education > LB Theory and practice of education > LB1603 Secondary Education. High schools
Funders: Coleg Cymraeg Cenedlaethol
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 4 April 2018
Last Modified: 04 Apr 2018 12:40
URI: http://orca.cf.ac.uk/id/eprint/110480

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