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Graduating from care: A narrative study of care leavers' journeys into and through university.

SHOTTON, LYNETTE,HARLAND (2019) Graduating from care: A narrative study of care leavers' journeys into and through university. Doctoral thesis, Durham University.



The aim of this study was to explore care leavers’ journeys into and through university.
Nine students were selected to take part from universities in the North East of England. Narrative interviews were used to capture individual experiences and were analysed through a Bourdieusian lens, using an experience centred, thematic approach.
Three themes were identified, which linked to aspiring to attend university: primary habitus; secondary habitus and aspirations sustained through experience. Four further themes were identified focusing on experience at university: fitting in; standing out; forms of capital and family ties and the stickiness of place.
The findings show that care leavers are characterised by complexity and diversity. Aspirations for going to university are grounded in the dominant trend of going to university, but are shaped by primary and secondary habitus, as well as personal agency. Experience in the university setting varied and linked to individual and institutional habitus and forms of capital. The challenges students faced related to the academic and financial aspects of being a student and were similar to those of other university students generally. However, for some, these did intersect with their care leaver status. Going to university did not lead to radical shifts in habitus, but did produce an overall benefit in terms of the accrual of social, cultural and economic capital.
Recommendations from this study are that care leavers must be recognised as complex and diverse in relation to their social backgrounds, reasons for attending university and support needs once there. More research is needed about how best to shape policy and practice in raising aspirations of those in care to attend university, but also to help universities to support care leavers effectively.  

Item Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Award:Doctor of Education
Keywords:Narrative, Bourdieu, Care leavers, university, experience, identity.
Faculty and Department:Faculty of Social Sciences and Health > Education, School of
Thesis Date:2019
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:27 Mar 2019 08:28

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