Exploring the experiences of a white, working class boy through the use of a narrative methodology

Rachel Eileen Fenlon


Department for Education statistics published in 2014 show that white, British boys in receipt of Free School Meals (FSM) are the lowest performing group of boys from any ethnic group, based on the number of pupils achieving five A* – C grades at GCSE level including Maths and English or the equivalent. This paper utilises fictional ethnography to explore the themes of gender, social class and the curriculum and how they relate to a white boy from a working class background who is in receipt of FSM. Through the use of narratives in the form of diary entries, these three themes are explored from three different perspectives: his teacher, his mother and the child himself.

The aim of this paper is to illustrate how one child and his circumstances can be perceived differently by these key figures. It also explores how the educational experience of a child can be influenced by his circumstances, and how within a given demographic, there are those who don’t fit the particular stereotype and are exceptions to the rule.

The conclusions drawn from the research used in this paper suggest that in the majority of cases the social class of the child and whether or not they are from a disadvantaged background will affect their attainment at GCSE level (DfES, 2014). There is a positive correlation between boys and their poor achievement in English (Donald, 2013, Jones & Myhill, 2004) and also their social class and behaviour and attitude in the classroom (Jones & Myhill, 2004, Roberts, 2012). However, although the majority of research surrounding white, working class boys relating to these issues is negative (Cassen & Kingdon, 2007, Centre for Social Justice, 2013, Donald, 2013, Jones & Myhill, 2004, Reay, 2001, Roberts, 2012), it does not mean that a boy from that background will necessarily underachieve.

Fenlon, R. (2015) Exploring the experiences of a white, working class boy through the use of a narrative methodology. Transformations, [online] Vol. 1(1). Available at: https://educationstudies.org.uk/?p=3783 [Accessed 15 Apr, 2024].


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