South African Journal of Education

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Functions of Turkish complementary schools in the UK: Official vs. Insider discourses

Ç Çavusoglu


Complementary schools in the United Kingdom (UK) are community organised schools with the general aim of teaching younger generations their ‘native’ languages and cultures. However, the aims and practices of these  schools are predominantly dependent on changes in the social and political contexts both in the host country (in this case the UK) as well as in the respective ‘home’ countries of these children. This study focuses on one such Turkish  complementary school in London, aiming to describe and analyse the functions of these schools more broadly, by  means of a variety of perspectives and using a social constructivist approach. Data collected from official documents, participant observations, as well as interviews with parents, teachers, students and organisers of the schools, were  analysed, focusing on the emerging themes in relation to the functions and practices of the schools. The analysis  revealed that the official discourses, which stress the issue of underachievement amongst young people from  Turkish speaking backgrounds in the UK, differ strikingly from the participants’ perceptions of the functions of the  school, as well as the actual teaching and learning practices found there. This discrepancy is attributed to trends in  current neo-liberal educational discourses and the discourses surrounding ethnicallyoriented educational provisions in the UK.

Keywords: complementary schools, ethnic minority education, neoliberalism, Turkish schools
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