This project will investigate post-compulsory educational pathways among young people who spent at least one of their childhood years in the care of public authorities or child protection agencies. Young men and women from a public care background are among the most economically and socially excluded groups in European nations yet the pathways by which they might overcome their childhood disadvantages through further and higher education are virtually unknown. The high level of social exclusion among young people from a public care background, coupled with some evidence of their heterogeneity and resourcefulness, makes this discreet group a valuable case for investigating the educational prospects for, achievements of, and barriers facing all socially excluded young people. The overall aim of the proposed project is to contribute to the knowledge and policy development and changes in practice that may lead to the retention of many more young men and women from a public care background in education after the end of compulsory schooling and to open up the prospect of further and higher education to them. Specific objectives are to: i) map current knowledge about educational participation among young people from a public care background; ii) track and evaluate the educational plans and pathways of a sample of 19-21 year-olds from a public care background; iii) identify the conditions within the care and education systems that facilitate or inhibit entry to and continuation in post-compulsory education; and iv) explore young people’s constructions of educational identities and trajectories in terms of class, gender, race, ethnicity and care responsibilities both from the perspective of young men and women themselves and of carers and staff in services designed to support them. Using a highly experienced five EU country research team, and a combination of quantitative and qualitative methods, the project will provide a national overview and in-depth analysis.
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