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Performance vs. Authenticity: A Qualitative Study of a Muslim Primary School in Superdiverse London

Evans, Thomas; (2018) Performance vs. Authenticity: A Qualitative Study of a Muslim Primary School in Superdiverse London. Doctoral thesis (Ph.D), UCL (University College London). Green open access

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Abstract

This thesis is a qualitative study of a Muslim school and the community it serves in the London borough of “Queensbridge.” My research is predominantly based on semi-structured interviews with 36 participants including teachers, governors, administrative staff, parents, community members and former pupils of “Zamzam Primary School” (ZPS). Participants celebrated Queensbridge for its superdiversity, which facilitated the practice of their faith as a religious minority, whilst critiquing the area for its poverty and crime. The two defining features of the Muslim school were seen to be an Islamic ethos and curriculum, although the latter differed very little from the British national curriculum. Many participants viewed ZPS as an innocence preserving bubble and suggested pupils would encounter challenges when entering the state system. Conversely, some informants asserted that popular culture infiltrated this “cocoon,” a set of circumstances compounded by Ofsted interventions that required the school to conform to a neoliberal ideology of education. I also address participants’ motivations to become teachers and work in a Muslim school. The most commonly cited reasons were opportunities to observe, express and impart an Islamic identity and practices unimpeded. Negatives ranged from scant resources, institutional disorganisation, failed fellowship and superficial spirituality. Parents enrolled their children in ZPS to ground them in their religion whilst acquiring the necessary skills for career based success and social mobility. Former pupils of ZPS celebrated the intimate, communal and supportive space in which they studied. This study seeks to provide an accurate and detailed image of a British Muslim community and its school. It also identifies and explores the tensions experienced by members of Zamzam Primary and the wider Queensbridge community regarding performance and authenticity in a faith school which aspired to implement Islamic ideals, whilst operating within a secular political system.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Qualification: Ph.D
Title: Performance vs. Authenticity: A Qualitative Study of a Muslim Primary School in Superdiverse London
Event: UCL (University College London)
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
UCL classification: UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Education
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Education > UCL Institute of Education
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Education > UCL Institute of Education > IOE - Culture, Communication and Media
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10047112
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