Derrington, C. (2008) Social exclusion and cultural dissonance as salient risk factors in the engagement and retention of Gypsy traveller students in secondary education. Doctoral thesis. The University of Northampton.
This thesis comprises a critical appraisal and a collection of published works drawn largely from extensive qualitative data generated by a five-year longitudinal study of forty-four Gypsy Traveller students. Gypsy Traveller children’s disengagement and underachievement in the secondary phase of education has exercised educationalists and policy makers for over forty years. Historically, deficit theory associated with an impoverished and disadvantaged nomadic lifestyle prevailed but this is no longer sustainable. The vast majority of Gypsy Travellers in Britain today are housed or settled on established sites and the situation has barely improved. Other ‘pathological’ explanations such as the Traveller community’s determination to preserve a separate identity from the dominant population by defending cultural boundaries have also featured prominently in the literature and in professional discourses. The thesis is grounded in a social constructionist approach, which critically analyses psychosociocultural forces and their impact on relationships and human behaviour. From this analysis, a new perspective is proffered as to why Gypsy Traveller children so often find themselves out of the secondary education system. Social exclusion and cultural dissonance are identified as significant push factors that trigger certain coping responses, some of which are maladaptive