Environmental Education Research. Volume 23 (5). pp 597-614.
The purpose of this study is to explore curricular and young people’s orientations to, and representations of, the areas in which they live contrasted against curricular representations of place in Wales. This is accomplished through a mixed methods approach incorporating statistical and content analysis. Responses were coded with a positive, neutral or negative value and organised into categories emerging from the data. While the majority (64.6%) of our participants are positively oriented to these areas, schools providing free school meals above the national average for Wales had more pupils with negative orientations. Additionally, the rhetoric in teachers’ guidance for the Curriculum Cymreig promotes cultural icons and symbols representing place, while pupils’ responses do not. The findings suggest a potential relationship between social disadvantage and negative orientations to place, as well as a dissonance between ‘official’ representations of Wales and pupils’ lived experiences. Recommendations are made to include place-based, dialectical critiques of curricular and pupils’ understanding of place within pedagogical practices of teachers in Wales.