Scholarly article on topic 'From National Policies and Sentiments to Local Practices and Subjectivities: Mapping Immigrant Educational Identities in a Semi-Rural Locale'

From National Policies and Sentiments to Local Practices and Subjectivities: Mapping Immigrant Educational Identities in a Semi-Rural Locale Academic research paper on "Sociology"

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Academic research paper on topic "From National Policies and Sentiments to Local Practices and Subjectivities: Mapping Immigrant Educational Identities in a Semi-Rural Locale"

From National Policies and Sentiments to Local Practices and Subjectivities: Mapping Immigrant Educational Identities in a Semi-Rural Locale


January-March 2014: 1-11

© The Author(s) 2014

DOI: 10.1177/2158244014525421


Seán Anthony Bracken1


Given increased trends in globalization, there is a significant lacuna in identity research pertaining to rural or town settings and the impact that such locales have on pupils' educational identities. The question remains as to whether notions of "othering," or constraining subjectivities, are adopted and ascribed within schools among more recently arrived immigrant groups. Drawing on critical post-structuralist research, the following article illuminates how an assemblage of policies, power flows, performatives, personalities, bodily interactions, and spaces, operating within and outside of schools at particular times, combined to shape minority ethnic pupils' social and educational identities in two English primary schools located in a West-Midlands town.


education, social sciences, disparities, diversity and multiculturalism, language, curriculum, English as an additional language, Deleuze, Critical Race Theory, pupil identity


As identified by critical theorists (S. J. Ball, 2013; Connell, 2013; Gillborn, Rollock, Vincent, & Ball, 2012; Ortiz & Jayshree, 2010; Youdell, 2011), practices of cultural, linguistic, or ethnic elision may be expected within a systematically unequal society where legal and professional progress is, "quietly cut back by narrow interpretation, administrative obstruction, or delay." (Delgado & Stefancic, 2001, p. 24). This occurs in a context where, when questioned about key professional considerations, newly qualified teachers in England serving in primary and secondary schools feel least prepared for engaging with either linguistic or cultural diversity (Teaching Agency, 2012).

The following research aimed to identify salient factors influencing the development of educational and social identities among pupils from minority ethnic communities attending primary school in more rural locales. Following a review of current research in the field (S. J. Ball, 2013; Bell, 2012; Cole, 2011; Deleuze & Guattari, 2004; Koro-Ljungberg & Barko, 2012; Saldanha, 2012; Tambouku, 2008), this key research focus gave rise to the following sub-questions:

• How do external policies and wider educational values, policies and practices influence the ways schools "do" education and what are the implications for the educational experience of pupils from minority ethnic communities (Ainscow, Booth, & Dyson,

2006a; Ball, Maguire, & Braun, 2012; Busher, 2005; Cole & Masny, 2012; Evans & Davies, 2012; Glazzard, 2011; Gomolla, 2006; Maguire, Hoskins, Ball, & Braun, 2011; Taylor-Webb & Gulson, 2013)? • How do internal dynamics and associated school-based values and attitudes influence school cultures and how do they contribute to the formation of subjectivities and identities (Benjamin, 2002; Cohen, 2014; Deleuze & Guattari, 1994; Proweller, 1999; Reay, 1998; Schostak & Schostak, 2013; Strand, 2010; Wang, Willett, & Eccles, 2011)?


The research relied on a combined conceptual framework drawing on Critical Race Theory (CRT) and Deleuzian philosophy. CRT builds on a wider body of critical theory, which aims to bring to the surface aspects of societal inequalities based on ascriptions of "race" or ethnicity and, in so doing, it challenges dominant social and interactional assumptions regarding culture, intelligence, language, and capability (Chakrabarty, 2012; Gillborn et al., 2012). This also contests "traditional claims of objectivity and

'University of Worcester, UK Corresponding Author:

Sean Anthony Bracken, University of Worcester, Henwick Grove, Worcester, WR26AJ, UK. Email:

meritocracy" (Calmore, 1992, p. 318) because such claims may be associated with, and reflective of, differential aspects of privilege and power. CRT is intimately concerned with the methods for articulating and listening to voices which have been eschewed, disadvantaged, and silenced; it therefore pays particular attention to the necessity to reflect the voices of those who are the subject/object within the research (Ladson-Billings, 2003; Rollock, 2012).

A Deleuzian perspective on school-based beliefs and practices contends that they are articulated through language, symbols, bodily movements, and behaviors within particular spaces, as well as being embodied in the social structures which are created, maintained, and modified over time (Cole, 2011; Semetsky, 2012). In this way, there is scope for the creative reinterpretation of existing cultural systems because, as argued by Mayo (2000), the creative use of language can alter behaviors and practices providing scope for divergent and somewhat temporary systems to arise, these nonetheless alter the initial trajectories of power and discourse. The concept of organic repositioning draws on rhizomic analogies prevalent in the writings of Deleuze (1990, 2004). The historical genealogies of Foucault and the universal grammar associated with Chomsky are broken down to reveal a series of multifarious interconnectivities, which are reflected in the workings of the rhizome that

ceaselessly establish connections between semiotic chains, organizations of power, and circumstances relative to the arts, sciences, and social struggles. A semiotic chain is like a tuber agglomerating very diverse acts, not only linguistic, but also perceptive, mimetic, gestural, and cognitive. (Deleuze & Guattari, 1994, p. 7)

The practices and subjectivities associated with schooling become stratified, territorialized, and organized, but in so doing they also encompass spaces for collapse and this facilitates the regeneration of novel ideas and practices, which are referred to as "lines of deterritorialization" or "lines of flight." (Cole, 2011; Deleuze & Guattari, 1994; Youdell, 2011)

The application of the methodological framework relied upon qualitative-based research in two schools in Clareborne1: Hopton Primary (a local authority [LA] maintained school) and St. Anthony's (a Roman Catholic School). Research was conducted over a 9-month period from September 2012 through May 2013. Research was restricted to Year 6, the final year of primary education.

The total enrollment in Hopton Primary is 535 pupils; in the two Year 6 classes, there were six pupils for whom English was an additional language: three Polish pupils, two from Latvia, and one from Lithuania. In Hopton, the research focused on the experiences of these six pupils, of whom only one was male. I also collected data from interviews and observations involving the three Year 6 teachers in the two classes: Mrs. Harris who taught in Class

6A, Mrs. Carter and Mrs. Neary, the special educational needs coordinator (SENCO), who time-shared the teaching of 6B. In addition, I interviewed Ms Bronowski, a Polish immigrant who was a qualified teacher but who acted as a teaching assistant (TA) with responsibility for pupils with English as an additional language (EAL). I had many informal conversations with other staff at the school and I communicated frequently with and interviewed Mr. Hawkes, the deputy head teacher with responsibility for EAL.

St. Anthony's Primary school had a total enrollment of 209 pupils. It was a single form entry and in Year 6, a total of nine pupils were identified as having EAL; two of these, a boy and a girl, were of Polish heritage, one boy was Filipino and the other six were of Kerala Indian heritage; four of these pupils were boys and two were girls. All of these pupils agreed to take part in the research. I conducted observations in the Year 6 classroom and also interviewed Mrs. Beckett the class teacher. She also acted as a deputy head teacher and was responsible for leading on; literacy, Modern Foreign Languages and the Performing Arts. I also interviewed Mrs. Sexton, the higher level TA who worked in this class, and the Polish TA, Mrs. Walicki who had responsibility for EAL within the school. In addition, I interviewed the head teacher Mrs. Whittington. The methods used in the research included

• a piloting of the research in a West-Midlands primary school,

• the critical analysis of school documentation,

• semi-structured interviews with key stakeholders; SENCOs, TAs, head and deputy head teachers, and pupils within the schools,

• Observations in formal and informal settings,

• Photo-voice interviews with participating pupils.

The Policy Context: A Review of Pertinent Literature

The official English policy context toward the recognition of learner identity and difference is ambiguous, and there are contrasting views as to how schools are expected to address societal inequalities and their impacts on pupils' learning. According to the national school inspectorate agency charged with ensuring educational quality, "equality and diversity are important to learners' success (and) learners cannot achieve well unless individual needs are met, the provider is inclusive, and equality and diversity are promoted well" (Office for Standards in Education [OFSTED], 2011, p. 11). However, inspectors have been urged to "place greater emphasis on the impact for learners and reduce the focus on policies and procedures" (OFSTED, 2011, p. 11). Notions of diversity have been essentialized so that normed student attainment levels become the primary criteria for determining how well schools engage with diversity. Over a decade ago, schools

were provided with a clear vision for how the concept of inclusion might be realized within and beyond the school. Head teachers, staff, and inspectors were informed that

An educationally inclusive school is one in which the teaching and learning, achievements, attitudes and well-being of every young person matter. Effective schools are educationally inclusive schools. This shows, not only in their performance, but also in their ethos and their willingness to offer new opportunities to pupils who may have experienced previous difficulties. This does not mean treating all pupils in the same way. Rather it involves taking account of pupils' varied life experiences and needs. (OFSTED, 2002, p. 7)

At the heart of the project of becoming an inclusive school was a realization that processes were important and had the potential to impact on ethos. In addition, teachers were encouraged to place pupils' cultural and linguistic differences to the forefront of curriculum enactment (OFSTED, 2002, pp. 9-19). The current advice differs significantly from that offered to educators a decade ago. Contemporaneously, at a national level the official narrative of cultural inclusion is increasingly obscured by a focus upon drivers for improving standards through competition and outputs. These external constraints define the ever restrictive boundaries within which schools and teachers operate and place limitations on the requisite latitude to be creative and cognizant of difference (Ainscow, Booth, & Dyson, 2006b; Glazzard, 2011).

It remains to be determined whether in the current climate schools still engage in practices of "institutional racism," such practices were described as entailing

The collective failure of an organisation to provide an appropriate and professional service to people because of their colour, culture, or ethnic origin. It can be seen or detected in processes, attitudes and behaviour which amount to discrimination through unwitting prejudice, ignorance, thoughtlessness and racist stereotyping which disadvantage minority ethnic people. (Macpherson, 1999, p. 28)

With its realization that racism may be evidenced in social practice rather than being reflected in outcomes alone it will be challenging to subject discrimination to official external monitoring. Thus, it is possible that certain school-based behavior may be constructed on values and beliefs which are inadvertently exclusionary and racist (Devine, 2005; Solorzano & Ceja, 2000). In addition, as the focus shifts to educational outcomes and interschool competitiveness, local policy and provision for the inclusion of those from minority ethnic communities is in a state of extreme flux resulting in a fragmentation of services where it is increasingly challenging for schools and teachers to access previously available supports and professional advice (Chowdry & Sibieta, 2011; National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers [NASUWT], 2012). These services, as provided through LAs, were

identified as having a pivotal role in assisting teachers to engage more effectively with cultural and linguistic diversity (Tikly, Osler, & Hill, 2005; White, Lewis, & Fletcher-Campbell, 2006). In this context, it is important to gauge the effects that a dramatically shifting policy landscape has had in terms of pedagogy and practice.

Findings From the Research: Analyzing Wider Values and Policies

During the research time frame, a socio-political narrative emerged portraying immigrants as exploitative and opportunistic. For example, on February 14, 2013, a press release from the Prime Minister's office reported, "There's a lot more to do to make sure that while we're welcoming, we don't allow people to come here and take advantage of us, because I think that does happen too often" (Jowitt, 2013). A notional dichotomy is created between the welcoming British and those from without who connive to further their own selfish agendas. The characterization facilitates claims that strains in national services are attributable to the (unwelcome) presence of immigrants (Skidmore, 2013). As recognized by Deleuze and Guitarri (1987), "everything is political, but every politics is simultaneously a macropolitics and a micropolitics" (p. 213). National policy dialogs are interpreted and transposed into the affective domain of subjects within local settings.

The positioning of the research in a relatively rural town was significant. Two teachers in Hopton Primary recognized and identified how the external to school space and its attendant social engagements had an impact upon the educational and social experiences of migrant pupils. Mrs. Neary expressed a concern about the impact of majority community parental views on the values and behaviors of children within the school because there was a history of some parents lodging complaints about the presence of Polish pupils within the school. She was very concerned about the effects of societal racism and how this might manifest within the school. In her view,

I come from here, but it is a very small-minded county and I think they find it very hard to accept that Polish and Portuguese are our biggest intake in population, they don't like the "invasion" (here she signals inverted commas) of other people. For some reason, that small-minded attitude here is, "they're taking our houses, taking our jobs, our land and they're . . .," so yeah, it kind of has an impact. We have started on that build up of trying to overcome those issues, but there is a long way to go. (Interview: Mrs. Neary, Hopton Primary)

Ms. Bronowski, the EAL teacher, had been working as a TA at the school for 3 years; in that time she noticed that people's social attitudes have changed in the locality and this has influenced her own sense of belonging. Ms. Bronowski spoke about how the name place signs for the town had been defaced, so that they now read, "welcome to

Poland" instead of "welcome to Clarebourne." For Ms. Bronowski, the Polish EAL teacher, there is a sense that the external space has become somewhat hostile to foreigners:

I think myself and most of my friends we just now feel really conscious and quite careful really about what we say and something that hasn't happened before like excusing ourselves that we are here. Previously, I really didn't have to explain, I mean like saying, "oh I am sorry I am here, sorry that I live here," I didn't have to do it before, whereas now there is that pressure on you to explain yourself and explain what really you bring here to this place that can explain whether you should be here or not. And even though no one ever says that to me, you feel urged to somehow excuse yourself for your very existence. (Interview: Ms. Bronowski, Hopton Primary)

There is a new self-awareness among immigrant communities, a sense of difference prompted by wider sociological and political forces, which seek to exclude and emphasize otherness. On the day of the Prime Minister's statement, of which Ms. Bronowski was unaware, she shared,

the very word multiculturalism . . . it doesn't really exist really any more. I don't know, it is just more about feelings, just sensing things rather than really experiencing them but, I feel like . . . we were more welcome here those six, seven years ago than we are now as Eastern European workers. I think the whole society, it has been described as broken, but I think also putting people against each other and because of the difficult financially and the political climate, I think there are more things being allowed to be said and more of an overall feeling that society has become more xenophobic. (Interview: Ms. Bronowski, Hopton Primary)

For this Polish teacher of English, changing political sentiments are conjoined with economic factors to alter the interrelationships with others making for a "sense" of discomfort and the unease of being other. The teacher concerned can almost "feel" the impact of political and social wider thinking.

Within the intertwined national, regional, and local context, policy development and its mediation take place within schools while, "through a combination of both media hype and social and political hype, 'threat' profiles are socially constructed based on physical characteristics; country of origin and language" (Ortiz & Jayshree, 2010, p. 179). The dialog is compounded by an emerging policy narrative, as shared recently by the chief inspector of schools that reinterprets educational disenfranchisement by splintering particular cohorts into those deserving of additional resources within schools, for example, "our" White, British, working class boys, against those who may no longer be deserving of attention, such as Afro-Caribbean or "othef' males (Adams, 2013). The external policy narrative was reflected in St. Anthony's. When asked about the educational engagement of pupils for whom English was an additional language, the head teacher responded,

We looked at data for closing gaps to show where we were weaker, where we needed significant improvement, and our particular group within this school is summer born children, and so the weakness is there rather than in fact whether children are Malayalam and EAL children. They pull our figures up, their data is very strong, and it is our White British boys that we're concerned about. (Interview: Mrs. Beckett)

This reading of the data was at odds with the spatial organization of the Year 6 class in St Anthony's where pupils from ethnic minority backgrounds were significantly underrepresented in categorizations of "top performing" groups for English and Math classes and were as equally represented as British pupils in the "lowest" groups. The practices of differentiated and categorizing grouping are themselves problematic and infused with aspects of power, politics, affect, and intention (S. J. Ball, 2013; Connell, 2013; Cremin & Thomas, 2005; Thompson & Cook, 2013). Current school practices as expressions of the external policy agenda create an image of being meritocratic, while they are "shot through with challenging assumptions" (Cole, 2011, p. 552). Policy orientations potentially mask systematic inequalities of privilege, power, and unintentional institutional racism within schools (S. J. Ball, 2013; Gillborn, 2008; Macpherson, 1999).

There are subtle interplays between the role of national policy discourses and how these are "bought into" by teachers and the ways in which schools may seek to reinterpret or redevelop their own transpositions of policy orientations (S. J. Ball, Maguire, Braun, & Hoskins, 2011; Maguire et al., 2011). The elision of pupils cultural and linguistic knowledge as exemplified in performance data sets deficiently labeling cohorts of students as; "English not as first language" (Department for Education, 2012), this clearly identifies these pupils as having potential to underperform. The fix for the need is to attend to the English language deficit and to bracket the pupils into appropriate "performance sets" to address the "problem." A subtle policy reorientation away from appreciation for multilingualism as exemplified in the expression of having "English as an additional language," has the potential to influence ways in which policy becomes practice.

While St. Anthony's Primary School Inclusion Policy indicated the school would

celebrate the achievements of pupils who are bilingual and encourage pupils for whom English is a second language to feel proud of their linguistic talents and to continue to use and develop their first language. (St. Anthony's, Inclusion Policy, 2009, available on the school website—anonymous)

Hosting an inclusive language policy does not necessarily lead to the practice of an appreciation for multilingualism within the school. When questioned about the extent to which pupils' languages were incorporated

within the school, the senior TA, who also acts as the school's EAL coordinator, responded,

I don't think very much, because I don't really know what a particular policy or curriculum says, but as far as I am concerned from observing what's happening in classes, I think teachers are trying to get everything down to one point, so there isn't really sort of . . . there isn't much happening really on the celebration of the differences let's say, you have got different cultures . . . no you need to sit down and write a proper English sentence sort of thing. (Interview: Mrs. Waliki, EAL TA, St Anthony's Primary)

Policies are also enacted through school-based practices. According to the study of ways in which the Ethnic Minority Achievement Grant (EMAG) was used in schools (Tikly, Osler, & Hill, 2005), policy makers and educators would do well to ensure that the grant was targeted to address institutional racism, provide clear ideas for literacy enhancement programs, and enable the adoption of a more inclusive curriculum. However, recent policy developments have moved significantly away from such advice by ensuring that local schools fora are allowed to "de-delegate" LA maintained EMAG school funds. Under this new system, there is no accountability mechanism regarding schools' use of this funding (National Association for Language Development in the Curriculum [NALDIC], 2013). Schools may decide whether or not to expend funds on supporting the social and educational support of pupils from ethnic minority backgrounds. Consequently, Mrs. Neary, the SENCO in Hopton Primary, argued, "I do have this horrid feeling that it's going to get worse again because if we need to access the EAL team it has to come out of our service level agreement budget," with competing demands the pupils from ethnic minorities will not emerge as beneficiaries within an "architecture of policy positions within which divergent discourses confront one another" (S. J. Ball, 2013, p. 23).

Ultimately, schools are sites where policies "riddled with power concerns" (Cole & Masny, 2012, p. 2) are contested and practiced and these influence options for ethos and culture. Drawing direct causal lines between policy and school-based effect is problematic. Nonetheless, tangents of association do link policies, practices, and the resultant artifacts and spaces which become the enactment of policy (Evans & Davies, 2012; Heimans, 2012; Maguire et al., 2011). The "entanglements of policy associations" (Heimans, 2012, p. 318) create divergent policy practices and performatives which are imbued with power relations and these are manifest in the ways schools provide for learning within differing cultural settings.

Exploring the Relationships Between School Cultures and Pupil Identities

The second key question sought to highlight interrelationships between enactments of school cultures

and their influences on individual creativity, potentials for freedom of expression as well as their constraining potentialities. Contemporary interpretations of school cultures see them as being imbued with "a relational sense of context" (Taylor-Webb & Gulson, 2012) where actors with prior experiences and beliefs coalesce in particular spaces and times to form a heteroglossia of interrelationships imbued with power (Foucault, 1986, p. 118). These have significant implications for practices of learning and teaching. They are also informed by external discursive formations of "sovereign, communal meanings" (Maguire et al., 2011, p. 598), which provide taken-for-granted and normative assumptions about the nature of education and how it ought to be realized in schools.

However, there is scope for disruption in communal practices and perceptions. The Deleuzian concept of rhizomic flight provides a conceptual gateway through which historical and social norms may be ruptured giving way to unpredictable avenues where differences flourish and become sites for learning. Creativity is enabled because rhizomic actions and sensibilities reflect the features of the rhizome, which is

an acentric nonhierarchical network of entangled and knotted loops, folding and growing through multiple sites of exit and entry. Rhizomatic growth is contrasted to arboreal or tree growth in that the latter is hierarchical and bound to one trunk, whereas the rhizome is a network of proliferating roots and offshoots. (de Freitas, 2012, p. 557)

Because the research took place in Year 6 classes, for the schools concerned the primary grand narratives, or manifestations of the arboreal, coalesced to form "communal meanings" related to national Standardized Achievement Tests (SATs) and levels of pupils' attainment. In addition, there were concerns about the changing nature of the national curriculum and how it might be best delivered. The ever looming prospect of external accountability through the school inspection process conducted by OFSTED also permeated actions and dialogs, and these in turn shaped perceptions and expectations of possible pupil achievements. Categorizations were created and pupils were subsequently assigned, sectioned, and bracketed according to perceived ability or impossibility of learning. The systematic grouping of pupils was also overlaid with notions of behavior and discipline, where naughty and unruly boys were assigned to the lowest performing groups (S. J. Ball, 2013; Youdell, 2011). This corresponded with my observations in both the schools and in all three of the classes I observed. While discussing the rationale for grouping with the head teacher in St Anthony's school, groupings were discussed as follows:

A class will group for maths and for English and then it is weighted depending on the paper they are going to be sitting, I think whether they are an EAL child or not they can then have that self image and with their self-esteem they might then start

to think, "I am good at this," or "I am not so good at that," but there are EAL children within the Year 6 grouping who are spread throughout the class within the different groups so that you have some in the top group, some in the middle group, some who were needing more support. (Interview: head teacher, Mrs. Wittington, St Anthony's Primary)

The use of the word weighted reveals the contrastive analyses used to assign individuals according to their perceived intellectual weightiness and how they are ascribed to groups accordingly. The process corresponds with Foucault's (1991) analysis of how educational establishments create mechanisms of disciplinary and sorting powers. These produce hierarchical classifications to delineate spaces that correspond to the worthfullness of individuals using criteria of "bodies, activities and time" (Youdell, 2011, p. 37). To some extent, the head teacher appears troubled by the experience, she realizes there may be affective side effects associated with the sorting machine's end results, and there is a recognition that pupils may internalize emotive fallout from the process. However, for the rational logic of the system to stay intact and for pupils to operate effectively,

They need to tolerate those differences with each other and that is quite a hard skill for children to learn; "I am ok with this, and in fact I am good at that, but I need a bit of help with this" and that is a tough message, because rather than think the world will come crashing down and "I am no good," you just have to make sure that if those groupings are set in place what do the children still recognise as their strengths even if they need support. (Interview: head teacher, Mrs. Wittington, St Anthony's Primary)

It is not that the system of grouping that is perceived as being problematic, rather the necessity for individual pupils to come to terms with their own standing within the groups. However, from a pupil's perspective this situation is very different. In an interview with Tanvi, a female pupil of Malayalam heritage, the educational experience is seen as being analogous to the medical; a recurring concern within Tanvi's narrative is the concern for how to "get better," her academic performance is an illness from which hard work will make her recover.

Researcher: Let's have a look at some of the other photos,

what's this one? Tanvi: Well, that's some books and I like reading because I can learn from them and know how to get better at writing stories . . . and I could get to a higher group than am now . . . Researcher: So what group are you in now? Tanvi: Em . . . (4 s delay) eh, well we don't have names for the tables, but eh . . . I'm in like the second lowest (photo interview, Tanvi, St Anthony's).

The concern is that such practices "systematically elevate the standing of notions such as ability, intelligence,

talent, and learning difficulty" (Cremin & Thomas, 2005, p. 432), while the concepts should be openly interrogated within schools as being socially constructed. Just as pupils are weighed and measured, so too are the schools:

We are very much prescribed by Government, this is what you can teach and you know we do work towards that because this is the same as any other school, this is how we are measured so to a certain extent we will play the game and get ourselves measured and come out at the right end, at the end of the day it is data that will make us float or sink as a school. (Interview: deputy head teacher, Mr. Hawkes, Hopton Primary)

The cultural parameters within which schools operate are guided by organizing principles of grouping and differentiation to which they are subjected, and these have as its basis "the primary and fundamental character of the norm" (S. J. Ball, 2013, p. 51). The norm is established in a public domain of comparative data analysis and is dependent upon classroom-based practices of "educational triage" involving

the deployment of notions of ability and intelligence, notions that are suffused with age old ideas of race and class hierarchy and which cement these classifications and their hierarchical arrangement and normalize the uneven distribution of opportunities and outcomes across differentiated groups of students. (Youdell, 2011, p. 14)

What is important here is that the delimiting dialogs of "good work," "effort," and acceptable and resistant behaviors fashion the ways in which pupils and teachers think about and engage with their work and produce shared understandings about what is acceptable. For example, as identified in my observation notes in Mrs. Beckett's class the contributions from Wojciech, a Polish pupil adjudged to have special educational needs in addition to "being EAL," were imbued with suspicion and tinged with unacceptability. However, when Wojciech is supervised by a perapathetic teacher in ICT class, he becomes animated and creative. A co-constructor of knowledge that belies his normative status of EAL/SEN person (Class observation, fieldnotes, St. Anthony's). Though the narrative of norming is pervasive, creative movements along the lines of flight can disrupt the prevailing order of things by producing multiple becomings that are collective, dynamic, and social (A. Ball, 2009; Cole, 2011; Colebrook, 2002).

This is also reflected in one of my classroom experiences in St Anthony's. According to my field notes from February 2013, I arrive at Mrs. Beckett's classroom and am struck by the tectonic shifts that have taken place, I have been away from the room for no more than 10 min and in the interim, there has been a change of subject focus from mathematics with its solidly defined groupings to religious education where pupils are enabled to intermingle. The class spirit has lifted; there is open communication, sharing, and collaboration. A buzz of excited voices fills the classroom.

Movement has taken hold of sedentary bodies because each pupil was provided with a piece of information that all needed to complete a comprehensive class-based learning puzzle. I feel as if I have been in two very different places: one of control and segregation, the other a place of dynamism, movement, and full of learning potential.

Lines of flight can come about from opening doors to outside, so that affectation takes hold of the educational space. During their interviews, three of the teachers in Hopton Primary spoke of the school's openness to the wider community. Mr. Hawkes spoke excitedly about an open day for grandparents, a concept borrowed from the Polish school system:

We actually did it the day of our Ofsted inspection, which of course we didn't know this, but it just happened to be the same time, we invited the grandparents of our year one and two children into school, at one point we did have grandparents down the corridor, out the door, across the car park and down, down the road queuing to come in, we were slightly having kittens at that point, I think we had—I think this is against all the fire regulations you can possibly have— we were getting on for nearly like 600 grandparents, it was absolutely amazing. (Interview: Mr. Hawke, deputy head teacher, Hopton Primary)

The engagement of grandparents from the community might represent a contra "flow of energy," which is differentiated from the normative patterns or discourses of individualization (Ringrose, 2011, p. 206). There was scope for the difference outside to take hold within the school and internal difference had been elevated to the level of the absolute, it is the difference of pupils that motivates the school to incorporate and follow that difference as a line of flight from normative educational experiences (Cole, 2005). A normed and currently accepted conceptualization of difference as expressed in grouping according to ability is referred to as "differentiation"; however, the practice is in fact a tyranny of repetition and sameness designed to limit potentialities for creativity and innovation, which is the real site for difference as the beginning of learning (Ringrose, 2011).

Difference as the basis for pedagogy is not universally accepted or practiced within schools, and this pertains particularly to the non-recognition of pupils' home languages. During the early phases of the research, when I met with pupils for the first few times, I wanted to share with them my belief that knowledge of differing languages is a positive part of who we are, some of my early field notes recorded such an incidence in St Anthony's. While I was leading the camera research training, I drew on some of my knowledge of Pacific languages to ask Joselito who is Filipino to count with me in Tagalog; we count slowly from one to five: "isa, dalawa, tatlo, apat, lima," he smiles as he counts along with me. Abha, his "clever girl" Kerala classmate shares, "this is the first time I've ever heard him speaking in his own language." She seems surprised that he

is someone who has capacity beyond being one of the boys in the second worst performing group in class, someone perhaps who might have access to aspects of knowledge that have remained untapped.

The silenced languages of pupils are sedimented under a hierarchy of linguistic preferences where acceptable other "modern" foreign languages are featured in the curriculum, no rationale is offered to pupils as to why their languages do not matter, it is not explained as to why they are inconsequential in the educational world of reified prepackaged knowledge. In Hopton Primary, Spanish is taught as a second language once a week, whereas in St Anthony's Primary, all of the pupils learn German. Rendering invisible previously acquired literacy and multilingual fluencies recasts immigrants into an always deficit mode of needing to catch up, the characterization is then of the needy student who requires the assistance of others to acquire the accepted phonic and literacy skills to become "more normal" (Stevens, 2009). Pupils' cultural and linguistic selves are subjectivized by such experiences as is evidenced in the interview with Katarina, a "lower performing" Polish pupil who has lived in the UK for three years:

Interviewer: Did you ever write in Polish?

Katarina: No.

Interviewer: Would you ever like to?

Katarina: No, because I don't like it, because it's hard.

Interviewer: Are there any books in Polish at the school?

Katarina: Really, I don't know . . . I like using the library and reading in England, in English in school because it's much easier for me.

Interviewer: Would you like to know more about Polish history?

Katarina: No, emmmm I don't want it, because I'm always interested in em English stuff, em English history, and em books.

Interviewer: Would you like to see a Polish teacher?

Katarina: Em, I already have, she's not really a teacher, she's sometimes a helper.

Interviewer: But would you like to see a Polish teacher or head teacher?

Katarina: No, it's good to have an English one (Photo elicitation interview: St. Anthony's Primary).

As a "lower performing" pupil, Katarina inhabits the peripheries of the classroom and this existence on the edges is also a place where her identity and socialization is developed. Her space has been identified for her and it is one for those, "racialised others who occupy the liminal space of alterity" (Rollock, 2012, p. 66). The marginal status may not be created consciously; rather it is defined by the subtleties of absences and presences in literacy, in math, in the geographies of classroom and subject where the terrain does not include Poland or the Polish. These are the unseen dynamics where the curriculum and classroom create "hierarchical racial structures" that bind pupils within

categories "that serve to maintain unequal order in society" (Ladson-Billings & Donnor, 2008, p. 72). Because the narrative maintains that all pupils are equal, there is no space to raise the significance of invisible and invidious racism where "difference is deficit, meritocracy is appropriate, and English-is-all-that-matters" (Mitchell, 2013, p. 342). As Mitchell (2013, p. 341) points out, this is where the classroom content is peopled by "majoritarian stories, or normative narratives" that promote racist outcomes but where racism is never acknowledged as being an issue. However, the experiences of Annessa at Hopton Primary school were somewhat different, as she shared during an interview:

Sometimes we have like a language of the week and in the morning and afternoon we'd have to say like "good morning" or "good afternoon" in that language and it was Russian once, but we haven't done Lituanian and at the time I had to teach everyone how to say hello and good afternoon in Russian, so if it was this week you'd have to say dobre utra and if it was the afternoon you'd have to say dobre dien. (Photo elicitation interview: Hopton Primary)

Annessa's role, for at least one day, has been that as a knower and guide enabling other pupils and the teachers to learn what she already has acquired. Earlier in the interview, Annessa described England as being her home, she is comfortable with her friends and her surroundings and she has no desire to live in Eastern Europe. For her, there are differing dimensions to her Englishness and one of those is the capacity to speak in several languages, which is a positive attribute to her identity:

Annessa: When I'm home with my brother I don't really chat to him in Lithuanian, sometimes we might but really the whole time we talk English. With my mum, I speak with her Russian, with my mom it's Russian, with my dad Lithuanian, with my Nan its Russian and Lithuanian, and with my brother it's English, but with my little brother, he's 4 he was born in England and I talk to him in Lithuanian, Russian, and English. When I'm with my family we usually talk Russian and sometimes Lithuanian. In school, I'd like to be able to talk Russian, and to teach it 'cos sometimes you have a secret to tell and then you could say it and others would understand. Interviewer: How do you feel to have lots of different languages?

Annessa: Quite happy 'cos it might help me with my future and it's just good to have more languages than one. I got some Russian books and some Lithuanian books and my Nan teaches me Russian and I teach myself English in school (Photo elicitation interview: Hopton Primary).

Having conducted a comprehensive review of the literature, Mitchell (2013, p. 349) argues that there are close relationships between the positive incorporation of pupils' linguistic and cultural identities and their concept of self.

She also states that there are strong correlations between the use of fist language and the capacity of pupils from ethnic minority communities to engage with learning meaningfully (O'Hara & Pritchard, 2008). Providing for linguistic diversity within schools also allows for enhanced collaboration with the wider community, which affects parental involvement in schools, a key determiner of educational success (Asher, 2007; Gibson & Hidalgo, 2009; Suárez-Orozco & Suárez-Orozco, 2009).

Perceptions of languages and their attendant cultures are determined according to interpersonal conventions and perceptions of what is, or should be identified as "the norm." The extent to which they are incorporated in the life of schools is fashioned by the unwritten values and practices of acceptance, ambivalence, or antagonism toward linguistic diversity among teachers and pupils alike. Teacher subjectivities embody understandings of perceived possibilities within the constraints of "delivering" a traditional curriculum, as congruence with existing and familiar social expectations of the non-urban classroom are intertwined with such constraints, there are delimiting spaces available for exploration and difference within the realms of what might be taught and how it might be taught.


As evidenced in the interview with Mrs. Bronowski at Hopton, the effects of policies which are antagonistic toward others (Aithenhead, 2013) and external to school social dialogs had profound affective implications, which were simultaneously disempowering and subjectifying. The findings indicate that while there is a place for developing inclusive policies within schools, the role of cultural practices and values was seen to be more significant in influencing the ways that teachers engaged with pupils. For example, while there was a very inclusive language and culture policy displayed on the school's website at St. Anthony's Primary, teachers' practices and a shared belief in the "universality" of pupil experience were at variance with a commitment to engage positively with difference. The most significant attribute of external influences on school-based practices was associated with the ways in which space was carved with bodies in preparation for standardized assessments and to facilitate "individual differentiation," a notion charged with taken-for-granted suppositions and quintessentially laden with values and power.

Cultures within schools and classrooms were enmeshed with power flows between and within external and internal comprising an enfolding that involved "a moving matter animated by . . . movements, folds and foldings that together make up an inside: they are not something other than the outside but precisely the inside of the outside" (Deleuze, 1988, p. 97). A shared creation of othering exemplified how teachers recreated the culture of schooling to define aspects of normality and the shared identification

of those who were perceived as being beyond the bounds of education.

However, classroom and school cultures were not immutable, there was evidence of cultural changes and of rhizomic reorientations, which provided opportunities for teachers and for schools to alter cultural forces of subjectivization (S. J. Ball, 2013). Avenues were created that countervailed the regimentation of stigmatizing data through "individuation," where the Deleuzian concept of individuation is understood as openness to dynamic processes involving intensive capacity "to affect and be affected" (Deleuze & Guattari, 1987, p. xvi). Affects are not simple personal feelings, but "becomings that spill over beyond whoever lives through them (thereby becoming someone else)" (Deleuze, 1995, p. 137): becoming-other (Semetsky & Delpech-Ramey, 2012, p. 71).

This was achieved, for example, within Hopton Primary's willingness to involve the language of the other as part of the curriculum and as exemplified by their opening of the school gates to the grandparents of pupils within. In St. Anthony's, this was achieved when pedagogy of non-core subjects was released from the constraint of hierarchical differentiation enabling individuals to redefine predefined concepts of self and identity. Ultimately, by sharing ways in which schools engage with difference there is a scope to alter powerful policy laden preconceptions and to enhance pupils' lived and educational encounters in, with, and through being different.

Declaration of Conflicting Interests

The author(s) declared no potential conflicts of interest with respect to the research, authorship, and/or publication of this article.


The author(s) received no financial support for the research and/or authorship of this article.

1. All place names, person's names, and school names have been anonymized to protect the identity of individuals who participated in the research.


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Author Biography

Sean Anthony Bracken is a senior lecturer in education at the University of Worcester. His research interests include leadership in contexts of linguistic and cultural diversity. He currently leads on English as an additional language (EAL) and inclusive education programs.