Preparing for life after school: a capability approach to rethinking 16-19 education in England.

Wimborne, Oliver, James (2016). 'Preparing for life after school: a capability approach to rethinking 16-19 education in England.' Paper presented at the annual conference of the HDCA, Tokyo 2016.

abstract This is a final year PhD study that investigates student wellbeing in 16-19 year old education in England using a capability approach. It asks: ‘how does post-16 education give students the freedom and opportunity to live lives they value?’ It aims to gain an in-depth and appreciative insight into the experiences of post-16 students that are made possible by their education and prepare them for life after school. Drawing on Amartya Sen’s and Martha Nussbaum’s work, a theoretical framework is developed from the capability approach literature that considers how student wellbeing can be understood in post-16. At the heart of this wellbeing framework is the notion that capability development is a concern for enabling 16-19 year old students to live a life they value, as they enter young adulthood and approach transitions into employment or higher education. As a result, this study looks to understand the ways in which; (1) students develop a new sense of self-concept, particularly around what they want to be and do in the future; (2) different forms of school life and provision become valued by students; (3) students draw on social and professional relationships around them to improve their wellbeing; and (4) particular emotional and psychological concerns begin to emerge in light of new social expectations. An empirical study is now complete. Based in an inner-city academy sixth-form used as a case-study, it explores the nature of school-life using a broad range of semi-structured student interviews. The study unpicks how the 'big moments' of school life, such as enrolment and exams, are interwoven with the smaller, everyday experiences of school life, such as lessons, tutorials, activities and free time. Further information is gained from a sample of recent school-leaver and staff interviews.  This supplementary data enables the study to explore alternative perspectives and understandings of school life in order to develop a robust capability perspective that captures the ways in which post-16 life can add-value to student wellbeing.

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