Changing student behaviour in schools located in areas of socioeconomic deprivation: findings from the 'coastal academies' research
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Ofsted (Ofsted, 2013; see also Weale, 2014), the government regulator of standards in education for England, identified a link between student performance and ‘deprived coastal towns’, with a realisation that these areas have ‘felt little impact from national initiatives designed to drive up the standards for the poorest children’ (Ofsted, 2013). Having recognised locality as factor in school performance in research undertaken on coastal academies in 2010 (a longitudinal study of one coastal secondary (school age 11-18) academy) extensions to the research resulted in a comparative analysis of six underperforming coastal secondary schools that had converted to academy status by 2010 under the Labour Government’s academies agenda (realised through the Education Act of 2002) to support ‘nationally challenged’ schools in tackling educational inequality. In our research we qualitatively examined the ways in which our coastal academies approached the task of changing their predecessor schools’ culture of under-performance. All six schools were located in coastal regions of high socio-economic disadvantage, including high levels of unemployment, limited parental involvement in their children’s education and low parental and young people’s aspirations. This paper identifies that behaviour is managed on three levels in the coastal academies – school, classroom and individual (Swinson, 2010) – through diverse and locally appropriate strategies. By putting student needs foremost these ‘first wave’ coastal academies managed and improved young peoples’ behaviour in the classroom.
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