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The consequences of being labelled ‘looked-after’: Exploring the educational experiences of looked-after children and young people in Wales

Mannay, Dawn ORCID:, Evans, Rhiannon ORCID:, Staples, Eleanor, Hallett, Sophie ORCID:, Roberts, Louise ORCID:, Rees, Alyson ORCID: and Andrews, Darren 2017. The consequences of being labelled ‘looked-after’: Exploring the educational experiences of looked-after children and young people in Wales. British Educational Research Journal 43 (4) , pp. 683-699. 10.1002/berj.3283

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The educational experiences and attainment of looked-after children and young people (LACYP) remains an issue of widespread international concern. Within the UK children and young people in care achieve poorer educational outcomes compared to individuals not in care. Despite proliferation of research documenting the reasons for educational disadvantage amongst this population, there remains limited empirical consideration of the lived experiences of the educational system, as perceived by LACYP themselves. This paper draws upon qualitative research with 67 care-experienced children and young people in Wales. The sample was aged 6-27 years, and comprised of 27 females and 40 males. Participants had experienced a range of care placements. Findings focus on how educational policies and practices alienate LACYP from dominant discourses of educational achievement through assignment of the ‘supported’ subject position, where children and young people are permitted and even encouraged not to succeed academically due to their complex and disrupted home circumstances. However, such diminished expectations are rejected by LACYP, who want to be pushed and challenged in the realization of their potential. The paper argues that more differentiated understandings of LACYP’s aspirations and capabilities need to be embedded into everyday practices, to ensure that effective educational support systems are developed.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Social Sciences (Includes Criminology and Education)
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
H Social Sciences > HM Sociology
L Education > L Education (General)
Uncontrolled Keywords: Education; Foster care; Looked After Children and Young People; Unintended consequences
Additional Information: This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cite
Publisher: Wiley
ISSN: 0141-1926
Funders: British Heart Foundation, Cancer Research UK, Economic and Social Research Council, Medical Research Council, Wellcome Trust, Welsh Government
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 8 December 2016
Date of Acceptance: 2 December 2016
Last Modified: 20 Nov 2023 18:45

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