Wales Institute of Social & Economic Research, Data & Methods
Sefydliad Ymchwil Gymdeithasol ac Economaidd, Data a Dulliau Cymru

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Education, Language & Identity

Work Package 2.3

Funder: ESRC

Start date: April 2016

End date: March 2019

Research team

Rhys Jones, Elin Royles (Aberystwyth University) & Lindsay Paterson, Fiona O’Hanlon (University of Edinburgh)


The project will use interviews and questionnaires to investigate the types of civic participation and conceptions of language and identity promoted within the statutory education system, and within civil society organisations working with young people, in both Wales and Scotland.   

In the project’s initial stages the four co-Is will undertake around a total of 15-20 interviews with national-level elite policy-makers, in the fields of education, language and the third sector and civil society organisations in the non-statutory education sector.

The target achieved sample size will be 480 students aged 14 - 16 drawn from 12 schools; 240 students and 6 schools in each country. The schools form the basis of our sampling strategy and would be selected to cover the range of linguistic and (so far as possible) of social contexts in which Welsh-medium and Gaelic-medium education takes place. 40 students would participate in the survey within each school: 20 of the students would have attended Welsh-medium or Gaelic-medium education, and the other 20 would not have done so but would have studied Welsh as a second language or Gaelic for learners.

A questionnaire will ask about both school-related experiences and also experiences outside school. 

A total of 120 follow-up interviews will be undertaken – 60 in each country, drawn from the people who have replied to the questionnaire.

In addition, as part of the fieldwork visits the RAs will undertake 20-25 interviews with teachers in schools and local leaders of civic organisations to which young people belong.

Finally, the four co-IS will undertake a total of 20 interviews / de-briefing sessions with national-level elite policy-makers, in the fields of education, language and the third sector and civil society organisations in the non-statutory education sector. The aim will be to refine the research findings and forge and identify pathways to impact.

Research Questions

  • What understandings of cultural identity do young people acquire from statutory and voluntary educational institutions?
  • In particular, what is the nature of the linguistic identities that these institutions encourage?
  • How, if at all, does the history of civic institutions impinge on young people’s identities today? 
  • What is the relative importance of statutory and non-statutory institutions in shaping young people’s identities?
  • What role, if any, do devolved political institutions play in shaping young people’s identities?
  • How do the answers to all these questions vary by other factors which affect young people’s identities – for example, gender, ethnicity, religion, place of residence and place of origin.


  • Capacity Building activities – 3 x 1-day workshops for approx. Workshop 1 for approx. 25 attendees, Workshops 2 and 3 for approx. 50 attendees.
  • Impact and Knowledge Exchange - We will produce a two policy briefing documents, which will be used to communicate the main policy findings of the project and these will be launched at two seminar events, one each in Scotland and Wales. 
  • The costs of producing any materials to be uploaded online (e.g. podcasts or short video presentations relating to the project's findings, vidcasts of seminar events) will be provided for by Aberystwyth and Edinburgh universities as appropriate.
  • At least four academic journal papers will be produced. Target journals would be: Journal of Language, Identity and Education, The British Journal of Sociology, Regional and Federal Studies and Youth and Policy.



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