14 SES 07 B, Family Education, Parenting and School-Family-Community Partnerships (Part 4)
Paper Session: continued from 14 SES 03 B, 14 SES 04 B, 14 SES 07 B
For researchers, working with a migrant community organisation provides the advantage of access to ‘hard to reach groups’ but carries the challenge of tensions around research findings and mismatched expectations (Ryan et al, 2011).
Community groups may have particular expectations that research findings will highlight examples of good practice and present positive outcomes that will facilitate future initiatives such as funding applications. However, academic researchers may collect complex data derived from different participants revealing divided opinions and competing expectations. Thus, the research findings may not necessarily fit with the anticipated results.
In this paper, we present a reflexive account of our research project undertaken with an Afghan community organisation in London delivering supplementary education (Lőrinc et al, 2013). Their Saturday school programme presents a potentially sustainable model of community education that could be replicated by other migrant communities in other countries.
As discussed by Ryan et al (2011), there has been a proliferation of ‘community research’ in recent decades. Funders are increasingly encouraging researchers to demonstrate user engagement, which often implies working with specific community organisations (Edwards & Alexander, 2011). It has been argued that the active involvement of communities is not only good for the research but also a matter of good research ethics (Maiter et al, 2008). However, as Alison Bowes (1996) has noted, empowering a local group or community organisation raises questions about power distribution within these groups. Community leaders may try to block certain avenues of research because they consider the issue too sensitive, contentious or simply irrelevant. This discussion begs the question who or what is the ‘community’ and who can speak on its behalf?
The reified notion of community as a spatially bounded and homogeneous neighbourhood or ethnic cluster, ignores or at best simplifies variations around class, age, gender, family situation, language, etc. (Alexander, Edwards & Temple, 2007). In-depth, qualitative studies of ethnic minority communities often reveal enormous levels of diversity and heterogeneity (Maiter et al., 2008). Thus, rather than reified and static, communities should more accurately be regarded as fluid, on-going constructions.
In addition to conceptualising notions of community, one needs to be cautious about who is representing and speaking for ‘the community’. While formal community organisations may be important symbols of community identity and cohesion, they may only reflect particular voices and constituencies. Reflection is needed on what extent can researchers transcend community gatekeepers, overcome barriers of ethnicity, religion, class, age and gender, to forge relations of understanding and rapport sufficient to enable good quality research.
In this paper, we consider the ways in which the community organisation negotiated competing expectations from different stakeholders and user groups (funders, parents, pupils, local stakeholders, mainstream schools). In the context of changing economic and political environment - with shrinking funding opportunities for native language supplementary education for migrant communities, the organisation attempted to adapt its provision to the new agenda. However, this was not always supported by voices within the migrant community. As researchers, we often found ourselves in a nexus between competing interests. While carrying out research in an ethical and professional way, we also had to be mindful of the particular sensitivities among the different stakeholders.
The questions we are addressing in this paper:
- How do community supplementary schools negotiate competing expectations from different stakeholders in the present politico-economic climate?
- How can researchers professionally, ethically and constructively navigate this net of competing interests?
Our objectives are to:
- Identify opportunities and sustainable avenues of migrant supplementary education;
- Provide a reflexive account of the role of education research in this politically and socially sensitive and contentious environment.
Alexander, C., Edwards, R., & Temple, B. (2007). Contesting cultural communities: Language, ethnicity and citizenship in Britain. Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies, 33(5), 783–800. Bowes, A.,1996. Evaluating an empowering research strategy: Reflections on action research with South Asian women. Sociological Research Online, (1). Edwards, R. and Alexander, C., 2011. ‘Researching with peer/community researchers: ambivalences and tensions.’ Sage Handbook of Qualitative Research, ed. M. Williams, London: Sage. Lőrinc , M., D’Angelo, A. and Ryan, L., 2013. Supplementary education in London: Impact, Challenges and Sustainability. An evaluation of the education services of Afghan Association Paiwand, SPRC, Avaiable through: http://sprc.info/wp-content/uploads/2013/07/Supplementary-education-in-London-Paiwand.pdf Maiter, S., Simich, L., Jacobson, N., & Wise, J. ,2008. Reciprocity: An ethic for community-based participatory action research. Action Research, 6(3), 305–325. Ryan, L., Kofman, E. and Aaron, P., 2011. 'Insiders and outsiders: working with peer researchers in researching Muslim communities', International Journal of Social Research Methodology, 14(1), 49 — 60.
00. Central Events (Keynotes, EERA-Panel, EERJ Round Table, Invited Sessions)
Network 1. Continuing Professional Development: Learning for Individuals, Leaders, and Organisations
Network 2. Vocational Education and Training (VETNET)
Network 3. Curriculum Innovation
Network 4. Inclusive Education
Network 5. Children and Youth at Risk and Urban Education
Network 6. Open Learning: Media, Environments and Cultures
Network 7. Social Justice and Intercultural Education
Network 8. Research on Health Education
Network 9. Assessment, Evaluation, Testing and Measurement
Network 10. Teacher Education Research
Network 11. Educational Effectiveness and Quality Assurance
Network 12. LISnet - Library and Information Science Network
Network 13. Philosophy of Education
Network 14. Communities, Families and Schooling in Educational Research
Network 15. Research Partnerships in Education
Network 16. ICT in Education and Training
Network 17. Histories of Education
Network 18. Research in Sport Pedagogy
Network 19. Ethnography
Network 20. Research in Innovative Intercultural Learning Environments
Network 22. Research in Higher Education
Network 23. Policy Studies and Politics of Education
Network 24. Mathematics Education Research
Network 25. Research on Children's Rights in Education
Network 26. Educational Leadership
Network 27. Didactics – Learning and Teaching
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