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Allen, Patrick Richard (2018) Excellence and inclusion in music education : working with Chagossian teenagers in an English secondary school. PhD thesis. SOAS University of London. DOI:

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This thesis develops from my experiences as a state secondary school music teacher in England, and from my work between 2009 and 2016 with teenagers from the forcibly exiled Chagossian community. Using field notes, diaries, documentary evidence, interviews as well as my personal reflections, the central part of the thesis recounts the uncovering of the students’ musical talents in class and the remarkable effect of the many musical projects that then ensued on the Chagossian students, on other students and teachers at the school and on the wider community. It also describes the challenges the students encountered and their musical, educational and personal development. It attempts to identify the educational and musical practices which resulted in exceptional success for the Chagossians and many others involved with them in the projects. Drawing on a wide variety of primary and secondary sources, the first part of the thesis places the Chagossians in context by exploring their origins, culture and music as well as the exile of the community and their arrival in the U.K. The central part is a narrative account of the development of musical projects they were involved with at the school, examining in detail the musical, educational, personal and institutional outcomes and implications. The final section reflects on what can be learned from the seven years of intense musical and creative activity that took place at the school. It examines the practice and methodology of music education, the cultural responsiveness of curricula and examinations, institutional practices and pressures on schools, and the musical outcomes and the effect of the projects both on the young Chagossians themselves and on those who came into contact with them both at and beyond the school. The thesis seeks to show how an inclusive, yet disciplined and ambitious approach resulted in exceptional outcomes for a marginalised and disadvantaged group of students.

Item Type: Theses (PhD)
SOAS Departments & Centres: SOAS Research Theses
Supervisors Name: Keith Howard
DOI (Digital Object Identifier):
Date Deposited: 05 Mar 2020 12:44

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