The creation of learner identities as part of social inclusion: gender, ethnicity and social space
This paper reports on a project designed to increase parents' and carers' involvement in learning in a multiply deprived inner city community. The project was part of a broader evaluation of a social inclusion partnership funded under the Single Regeneration Budget. The analysis shows how learner identities are created and cannot just be assumed. Drawing on a community development model, a community worker was able to engage with women through routine encounters in their own social space. The project involved a partnership with schools. Other research has suggested that many school/parent partnerships are based on models of resourceful middle-class femininity. This study found that community education worked through engagement with the social realities of women's lives to foster learning identities. Participants were encouraged to gain accreditation based on developing their own knowledge and skills, and to develop learner identities, which allowed them to access other learning. The paper concludes with the importance of working within the 'habitus', and that the association of cultural and social capital with education, which policy makers assume, is not universal.