Social deprivation in Northern Ireland's rural schools: principals' perceptions of the effects on pupils

  • David John Stinson

    Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


    This work concerns the impact of poverty on children in rural primary schools in the North of Ireland.

    The literature reveals a history of the study of the incidence of poverty and its effects in industrialised societies that stretches back over more than a century. It is a general conclusion that poverty affects a sizeable proportion of the population. The literature further reveals that disadvantaged people generally experience less academic success than the more affluent, and, that this problem is widespread throughout European and North American society and well known to academic researchers. Attempts to address this issue have met with only limited success. It is also clear that poverty in rural areas has not received the same level of academic or political interest as the problem in urban areas and for these reasons and others is something of a hidden issue. The North of Ireland has a considerable proportion of its disadvantaged population living in rural areas.

    This work attempts to quantify the problem in rural schools by analysis of pupils’ test scores and through use of semi-structured interviews to gain an insight into principals’ knowledge of and responses to the issue. The work indicates that, not only are disadvantaged children in these rural schools attaining less academically than their more affluent peers, but that principals are, to a considerable degree, unaware of the extent of the problem in their schools and are also ill equipped to deal with it, despite what appears to be a strong discourse from the Department of Education that the gap between the achievement of socially disadvantaged children and others should be closed.
    Date of AwardDec 2011
    Original languageEnglish
    Awarding Institution
    • Queen's University Belfast
    SupervisorTony Gallagher (Supervisor) & John Milliken (Supervisor)

    Cite this