This research sought to investigate the experiences of students from low socioeconomic status (SES) backgrounds who chose to attend socioeconomically integrated secondary schools in Ireland. Socioeconomic integration is the practice whereby students from varying socioeconomic backgrounds are integrated into heterogeneous school settings in order to diversify their socioeconomic composition. While the literature indicates consistent academic benefits of the practice for low-SES students, uncertainties remain surrounding their psychosocial experience. To better understand such uncertainties, this research embodied a case study approach, investigating the socioeconomic integration experiences of two low-SES families (n = 4) through online surveys and semi-structured interviews. The responses ascertained from case study accounts were subsequently presented to individuals with knowledge in the field (n = 7) during expert interviews. Triangulated findings indicate that the experiences of participating low-SES students were generally positive, with the development of friendships, extra-curricular participation, and subtle teacher vigilance being highlighted as advantageous. Nevertheless, participants also indicated significant tensions associated with the practice, including desires for assimilation, sentiments of isolation, possible dilution of identity, and rare instances of peer-condescension. This paper presents practical opportunities to improve the experiences of low-SES students in socioeconomically integrated schools, while also offering valuable lines of inquiry for future research.
Recommended CitationGleasure, Seán G.. (2020). Student Experiences of Socioeconomic School Integration in the Irish Secondary Context. i.e.: inquiry in education: Vol. 12: Iss. 2, Article 8.
Retrieved from: https://digitalcommons.nl.edu/ie/vol12/iss2/8