Bluff, Belinda, King, Nigel and McMahon, Gráinne (2012) A Phenomenological Approach to Care Leavers’ Transition to Higher Education. Procedia - Social and Behavioral Sciences, 69. pp. 952-959. ISSN 1877-0428

Previous research conducted in the UK has highlighted issues with the educational experiences of care leavers in general and has suggested that life transitions affect care leavers’ later experiences. However, the participation and achievement of care leavers in education particularly care leavers’ experiences of transitions in education, remains under-researched. This research investigated the educational experiences of nine care leavers studying in their first or second year, at universities across the Greater Manchester and Yorkshire areas of Northern England. Each participant took part in a semi-structured interview relating to their transition to university. Adopting a phenomenological approach, interview transcripts were analysed through Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis (IPA). Three main themes emerged; ‘care leaver identity’, ‘lack of positive care leaver role models’, and ‘corporate versus normal parenting’. The first theme ‘care leaver identity’, investigates what impact being a care leaver has on the participant personally and within their education. The second theme ‘lack of positive care leaver role models’ explores, what effect role models have on care leavers within their educational pursuits, and the final theme ‘corporate versus normal parenting’, investigates care leavers’ perception of what ‘parenting’ means and the nature of the parenting they receive.

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