Exploring hidden colours: A yearlong ethnographic study of a secondary school’s Somali community

Larsen, A. E. (2023) Exploring hidden colours: A yearlong ethnographic study of a secondary school’s Somali community. Post-Doctoral thesis, Bishop Grosseteste University.

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Micklethwait (2013) asserts the Somali community is one of the few refugee groups that has not thrived in Britain. Whilst the amount of research on or with this group is relatively minimal, suggestions of poverty, low educational outcomes, and unemployment are cited as key issues. Also prospects for young people of Somali heritage do not seem to be improving; Somali students as a cohort perform less well at school than their peers. Again, a number of suggestions such as poverty have been put forward to elucidate the issue. Many explanations, both discussing wider societal issues and educational attainment gaps, are from deficit viewpoints, denying the Somali community agency, and not valuing the knowledge and skills they hold. In this research, the school and wider community of study are in an East Midlands city. Early research highlighted how little was known and how much was assumed. A ‘transformative moment’ (Mills & Morton, 2013, p.43) shifted the research focus from problem-solving to increasing understanding. Working with a cultural facilitator an ethnographic, strengths-based study was developed which aimed to develop a greater understanding and explore the unknown Funds of Knowledge (FoK) of the school’s Somali community. An illuminating year in the life of the school’s Somali students was created with written portraits of forefronted participants. From their analysis a number of themes emerged: the importance of family, the efficacy of community support and the valuing of education. A diverse range of FoK were discussed including religion, language and food. A number of challenges were documented, for example the legacy of the civil war and issues around behaviour, along with the community’s mediation strategies. Several recommendations to develop practice have been made as a result of these findings such as the use of teacher advocates and the incorporation of FoK into curricula.

Item Type: Thesis (Post-Doctoral)
Additional Information: This is a PhD completed at Bishop Grosseteste University, awarded by University of Leicester. © 2023 Annabelle Larsen.
Depositing User: Stephen Macdonald
Date Deposited: 25 Jul 2023 10:56
Last Modified: 25 Jul 2023 13:00
URI: https://bgro.repository.guildhe.ac.uk/id/eprint/1037

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