Triggering and sustaining extra-curricular engagement as a route to resilience in middle childhood

  • David Glynne-Percy

    Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


    Literature indicates that participation in extra-curricular activities (ECA) providing benefits for children and young people. There is evidence that children from disadvantaged backgrounds benefit most from ECA but they participate less than children from more affluent backgrounds. We know little about how ECA begins and then is sustained for these benefits to embed. Research tells us that ECA participation diminishes after the age of eleven and a child who has not participated in ECA before they transition to secondary school will likely never participate throughout their education. Early experience of ECA would appear to be crucial, especially for disadvantaged children facing adversity who may benefit most.

    This research aimed to illuminate how ECA is triggered and sustained for a disadvantaged child in middle childhood (age 9–11) from accounts of successful ECA engagement for 20 disadvantaged children facing adversity in UK primary schools. Accounts were drawn from semi-structured interviews with twenty school practitioners who ran the ECA. Utilising a qualitative critical realist methodology this thesis offers a theoretical explanation of the events reported in these accounts of successful triggering and sustaining ECA participation. A theoretical explanation of triggering ECA is offered through Bourdieu’s notion of field – the existence of the field and the practitioner inviting the child into the field of ECA. Sustaining ECA is identified with Vygotsky’s zone of proximal development ensuring the child’s improved competency and sense of belonging to the field of ECA. Sustaining is also linked to Bourdieu’s habitus formation in alignment to the field of ECA – the child learning how to play the game. The accounts illustrated many children displaying impressive habitus adjustments from complete novices in the ECA field to becoming ECA ambassadors within one academic year and the thesis proposes the notion of a resilient habitus to signify successful alignments between contrasting fields.

    The emergent resilient outcome was analysed by understanding of the process of ECA engagement. This suggested that resilience should not be considered a personal character trait or outcome alone but an emergent quality through a dynamic engagement between child and their environment. The thesis highlighted what schools can do for ECA to provide a resilient building route for disadvantaged children facing adversity. It recommends ECA should become part of the everyday curriculum and experienced by every child – expanding pathways to competency building and children’s chances of enjoying success.
    Date of AwardDec 2019
    Original languageEnglish
    Awarding Institution
    • University of Brighton
    SupervisorAngela Hart (Supervisor), Joshua Cameron (Supervisor) & Suna Eryigit-Madzwamuse (Supervisor)

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