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Identity projects in complementary and mainstream schools: The views of Albanian and Bulgarian students in England

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)347–365
JournalResearch Papers in Education
Issue number3
Early online date20 May 2014
Publication statusPublished - 2015

King's Authors


This paper contributes to the literature on complementary schools as sites of learning and social and cultural identification. We draw on a small-scale multi-method qualitative study conducted in Albanian and Bulgarian community schools in London to explore the agendas of ‘new’ Eastern European complementary schools with respect to learning and heritage and their impact on migrant students’ identities and experiences with education in the UK. Findings demonstrate that different models of complementary schooling and students’ experiences of mainstream education affected students’ views in different ways. The paper explores how the ‘hard’ and ‘boring’ culture of Bulgarian complementary school resulted in students’ expressions of greater liking for learning in mainstream school and valuing of its multiethnic context. It further examines how practices in another complementary school and students’ wider social experiences resulted in a stronger sense of Albanian heritage identity in students, but in more problematic views of UK cultural diversity. In elaborating these themes we seek to draw some implications for policy and practice.

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