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Agency and belonging: What transformative actions can schools take to help create a sense of place and belonging?

Riley, K; (2019) Agency and belonging: What transformative actions can schools take to help create a sense of place and belonging? Educational and Child Psychology , 36 (4) pp. 91-103. Green open access

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Abstract

Aim: Schools represent one of the few points of continuity and stability in the lives of many children and young people today. Yet for a growing number, schools are not places where they feel they belong. Using the conceptual filters of agency, trust and social capital, this article draws on findings from two qualitative research inqutiiries to ask: What transformative actions can schools take to help increase young people’s sense of place and belonging? Method/rationale: The article synthesises findings from two studies about place and belonging—undertaken with a gap of some fifteen years—which involved ninety children and young people. Study 1 used a range of data gathering activities to find out the views of the young people. Study 2 drew on the traditions of collaborative research inquiry to engage the young people as student researchers. Using an educational design research to construct a common framework for analysis, the article offers a fresh perspective on how young people experience school-life, and on the relationship between the design of the research and its impact. Findings: There are two key findings: (i) School cultures that foster trust and draw on the strengths of communities contribute to the development of young people’s sense of agency and belonging. (ii) Engagement in collaborative research inquiry about place and belonging helps develop that sense of belonging and is a powerful tool for positive school transformation. Limitations: The analysis drew on two studies undertaken with a significant time gap. Conclusions: Research inquiry can be constructed as an activity for collecting data to contribute to understanding, and/or as a transformative activity. Evidence indicates that a process of collaborative inquiry involving young people as student researchers can contribute to their sense of agency and belonging.

Type: Article
Title: Agency and belonging: What transformative actions can schools take to help create a sense of place and belonging?
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Publisher version: https://shop.bps.org.uk/educational-child-psycholo...
Language: English
Additional information: This version is the author accepted manuscript. For information on re-use, please refer to the publisher’s terms and conditions.
UCL classification: UCL
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 - Learning and Leadership
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10103208
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