An exploration of the educational experiences of high-achieving Somali students in London schools

Garre, Mohamud Y. (2022) An exploration of the educational experiences of high-achieving Somali students in London schools. EdD thesis, University of Nottingham.

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Abstract

This thesis focuses on Somali students in London who achieved better GCSE (General Certificate of Secondary Education) results than is usual for their ethnic group. In general, the educational achievement of Somali children in the UK is a matter of concern. Recent statistics show that only 34 percent of Somali students gain pass grades at GCSE level. A combination of factors can explain this: many in the Somali community are refugees from conflict; they come from a country where the average level of education is low; they live in poverty; parents often do not speak good English or understand the school system. Nevertheless, some students do achieve better educational results. The research set out to explore the educational experiences of seven higher achieving students by generating life grids and by interviewing the students and their parents in their homes where ethnographic notes were made.

The result is seven stories about education from the perspectives of the parents and their children. The data were analysed within a conceptual framework developed by Tara Yosso whose work is based on critical race theory. She proposes a “cultural wealth” model of six “capitals” to reveal the strengths of students who are often seen as in a cultural deficit. This study revealed that capitals associated with cultural wealth fostered educational success.

The parents interviewed for this research had all been educated to at least secondary school level and had acquired a set of skills that allowed them to navigate complex social institutions and processes and draw on community networks and resources to support their children’s educational achievements. Their privileged positions allowed them to shape their children’s experiences. However, not all the students and parents experienced schooling as good. While they might lack English and familiarity with the English education system, it was clear that the schools were not meeting their needs. This study demonstrates that for these successful students, even when schooling was experienced negatively, more influential was that parents held a set of values that the young people also espoused. These values include having a high regard for educational achievement, being highly aspirational, and working hard. They are achieving by adapting to the system. This study makes policy and practice recommendations to all stakeholders so that the achievement levels and the school experiences of underachieving Somali students can be improved.

Item Type: Thesis (University of Nottingham only) (EdD)
Supervisors: Townsend, Andrew
McLean, Monica
Keywords: Somali students, Great Britain; Schools, England, London; Academic achievement; Culture; Parent and child
Subjects: L Education > LC Special aspects of education > LC 65 Social aspects of education
Faculties/Schools: UK Campuses > Faculty of Social Sciences, Law and Education > School of Education
Item ID: 67436
Depositing User: Garre, Mohamud
Date Deposited: 31 Jul 2022 04:40
Last Modified: 31 Jul 2022 04:40
URI: http://eprints.nottingham.ac.uk/id/eprint/67436

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