The experience of education of the army child

Clifton, Grace (2007). The experience of education of the army child. PhD thesis Oxford Brookes University.



In the UK, there are over 100,000 children from an army background and parliamentary debate has highlighted the issue of the challenging experiences of these children in local schools. Using an ethnographic approach, this thesis investigates the educational experiences of army children. Four year eight children from one school were observed and interviewed in order to build up in-depth case studies. In addition, the outcomes from discussions with their parents, teachers and other associated education and army professionals were explored. The emerging findings were subsequently compared with findings from a second research site. Working within a sociocultural theoretical framework, it was found that there was a clash of cultures between the world of the army and the world of the school. As a result, army children's needs were not sufficiently identified and understood and neither the army nor schools attended to the children's needs. Furthermore, the culture of the home was seen to have a strong effect on the educational experiences of the army child with the role of the mother being considered to be particularly important. Another important finding was that the mobile lifestyle also had a negative effect on the children's educational experiences. As a result, the children developed unique and individual coping strategies. The research has implications for both military and educational policy makers, as well as for the teachers and parents of army children, in terms of collaboration between army and local education authorities in order to improve the educational experiences of the army child. More generally, the research addresses the role of the home in supporting school experiences and suggests that further research into the effect of mobility on children's educational achievement is necessary.

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