Sites of socialisation: Polish parents and children in London schools


D'Angelo, A. and Ryan, L. 2011. Sites of socialisation: Polish parents and children in London schools. Przeglad Polonijny. XXXVII (1), pp. 237-258.
TitleSites of socialisation: Polish parents and children in London schools
AuthorsD'Angelo, A. and Ryan, L.

Poland’s accession to the EU in May 2004 brought many new possibilities for Polish migrants to Britain. In the period from May 2004 to June 2010, almost 700,000 Poles registered with the Workers Registration Scheme as employees in Britain. One unforeseen consequence of this rapid increase in migration was the large numbers of Polish children arriving in British schools. According to the School Census, in 2010 there were at least 40,700 primary and secondary schools pupils in England whose first language was known or believed to be Polish. Schools are not only places of education but also sites of socialisation and interaction. Social norms, values and expectations are taught and learned through both the formal and informal curriculum – in the classroom, playground and at the school gates.
For newly arrived migrant children and their parents school may be the place where they encounter the diversity of the host society in all its complexity and newness. While school may be regarded as a safe place of learning, it can also be daunting and confusing. Conversations at the school gates may provide parents with a valuable opportunity to acquire new information and make friends. However, school can also be associated with culture clashes, negative stereotypes, feelings of isolation and even racist bullying. Thus, for newly arrived migrant children and their parents, school provides an array of opportunities and challenges. In this paper we explore these issues drawing on our research with Polish migrants in London and on Polish children in London primary schools. We explore processes of adaptation, accommodation, negotiation and identity formation. In particular, we analyse the ways in which Polish migrants construct notions of Polishness in the context of education.

Research GroupSocial Policy Research Centre (SPRC)
PublisherPolska Akademia Nauk
JournalPrzeglad Polonijny
Publication dates
Print01 Jan 2011
Publication process dates
Deposited18 Jul 2011
Output statusPublished
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