This is a twelve year, longitudinal ethnographic study in which social influences on the learning of two cohorts of children were traced as they moved through their entire compulsory schooling in a city in southern England . Initiated by Andrew Pollard in 1987, the work grew in partnership with Ann Filer and others. Funding from five successive institutional, Leverhulme and ESRC awards was obtained and the sequence become known as the Identity and Learning Programme (ILP). Books published so far from the study have focused on social aspects of the learning of young children in the first three years of schooling (Pollard with Filer, 1996), on pupil careers and ‘strategic biographies' through primary school (Pollard and Filer, 1999) and on social and mediational processes of assessment in primary schooling (Filer and Pollard, 2000). A forthcoming book, based on the secondary phase of the study, is focused on learning, identity, strategic action and the differentiating effects of gender and social class.
In the late 1980s, when the children were 4-5 years old, parallel ethnographies were started in two primary schools. Greenside Primary served an affluent suburban area where incomes were generated from professional or senior business roles. At Albert Park, a more working class area of the same city, parental occupations were predominantly classified as skilled-manual. Subsequently, at age 11, the children from the two cohorts transferred to no less than nine secondary schools – reflecting the existence of a quasi-market in the city. These encompassed local and distant comprehensives, an LEA grammar school, a city technology college, a church school and three independent schools. The diversity of secondary school choices, experiences and outcomes provided a particular opportunity to focus on processes of social differentiation in relation to social class and gender.
Narrative case study records comprise the core of each of the books which have been published, and of the forthcoming secondary volume. At a second level, these accounts helped in the identification of patterns and dynamics in pupils' learning strategies, emergent identities and pupil careers as they unfolded over time and through successive learning and social contexts. This is the level of analysis which has particular relevance to TLRP.
The ILP, as an associated TLRP project, will contribute to the Programme's thematic work with particular reference to ‘learning through the lifecourse'. Some of the concepts and theorizations developed within the ILP have echoes in other TLRP projects and will be used to help forge an overarching understanding of lifelong learning.