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‘Liminal learners’ in a global city: The aspirations of young British Bangladeshi women at an east London secondary school

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Young British Bangladeshi women are often perceived as a marginalised, vulnerable group unlikely to succeed within the UK education system. Although achievement at GCSE level has improved significantly in recent years, female British Bangladeshis continue to be identified as an under-performing group at A-level1 and in higher education (Dale, 2002; Hussain, 2005). This article examines the educational experiences of a group of young British Bangladeshi women at one east London secondary school, exploring their perceptions of educational success and their aspirations for the future. Through a narrative, case-study approach, and drawing on a range of theoretical perspectives, the research seeks to challenge commonly held perceptions of a group of young women whose voices are often absent from academic and policy discourse. Using the concept of ‘liminality’2 (Turner, 1969) as a way to conceptualise the location of young British Bangladeshi women within the education system, the article argues that we need to re-visit the widening participation3 (WP) agenda, in the light of the real, lived experiences of young people from second-and third-generation migrant communities.
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Keywords: British Bangladeshi; aspirations; liminality; widening participation; young women

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: January 1, 2013

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  • The journal is based on the belief that there are neglected links between research and theory, and policy and practice in the promotion of widening participation in post-compulsory education and lifelong learning. It aims to provide a forum for the development of theory, the addressing of policy questions and the dissemination of innovative practice in the field of widening participation and lifelong learning.
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