Secondary School Pupils’ Perceptions of their National Identity in Wales
Rees, Sarah Jayne
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This research project explores secondary school pupils’ perceptions of national identity in Wales. Investigated are the key factors that influence pupils’ perceptions of national identity, and whether attending a Welsh or English medium school makes a difference to perceptions of Welshness. Also discussed is the impact of Y Cwricwlwm Cymreig, YCC (English: The Welsh Curriculum) on national identity; a statutory requirement for teachers to incorporate themes of Welshness in their lessons (ACCAC, 2003). Research was undertaken within two schools in Cardiff; School E, an English medium secondary school, and School W, a Welsh medium secondary school. Within both schools, questionnaires surrounding the theme of national identity were completed by thirty pupils from years seven and eleven respectively. Focus groups were held with year nine pupils within both schools, creating discussion around this study’s theme. Also completed were questionnaires by teachers, from different departments within each school. Initial findings demonstrate that a main factor influencing secondary school pupils’ perceptions of national identity is location. Pupils are influenced by where they are born or where they currently live, supporting Scourfield, Dicks, Drakeford and Davies’ research (2006). Many pupils supported the work of Sabatier (2008), being influenced by their parents’ nationality; some pupils were actually told their nationality by their parents, indicating that family background was a key influencing factor. It emerged that schools enhanced feelings rather than defined reasons, and it was not proven that YCC influenced perceptions of national identity. Research demonstrated that attending a Welsh school influenced pupils in their perceptions of Welshness, however this did create stereotypes and an ‘anti-English’ attitude. The Welsh language had a large influence upon these pupils in terms of their feelings of national identity; they felt ‘more Welsh’ due to possessing the ability to speak the language.
BA (Hons) Educational Studies with Welsh
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