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Working title of PhD: The Miseducation of black youth: How schools have become a pipeline to the prison industry for inner-city Black Caribbean youth in Birmingham.

Full Time / 2022

Supervisors: Prof. Andrew Smith, Prof. Jason Arday, Dr. Caitlin Gormley

Funding source: James McCune Smith scholarship


This study is the first empirical exploration of the relationships between Black young people, school exclusions and incarceration in the UK with an ethnographic focus on Birmingham, the second city in this country. It builds on Graham’s study (2015) and critically explores her claims that the trends are worse in the UK than in the US after shockwaves of austerity, racism and failing public services.

Birmingham’s exclusion rates for Black schoolchildren are representative of the UK and it has similar levels of population density and ethnic diversity to London (BCC, 2020; Gov, 2021).
This research offers a place-based understanding of the practices in, and experiences of, the education and criminal justice system from the perspective of excluded school children, parents, educational psychologists, teachers, prisoners, and former prisoners.

There are three interlocking research questions:
1. What are the linkages between the educational and criminal justice experiences?
2. What are the experiences of young Black people who face exclusion from mainstream education?’
3. What are there any processes through which young people and their communities resist, challenge and avoid the paths from classrooms to prison cells?

This study explores how the education and criminal justice systems interact as sites of racial/ class inequality to manufacture school exclusions, full prisons, unjustly educated and imprisoned Black people, outraged communities, and families.

Methodologically speaking, this thesis uses the Life-History method to explore the realities of marginalised Black Caribbean people who have gone through both the school and prison system.

Keywords: school exclusion, prison, underachievement




University of Glasgow

Research Themes

Crime, Violence and Inequality

Criminal Justice Process and Institutions

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