Researching the experiences of children and young people from armed forces families

August, 2018

This thesis explores the experiences of children and families who are linked with the Armed Forces.


Children from armed forces families are identified internationally as a group facing challenging situations, circumstances which can have a negative impact on their educational experiences. The main focus in existing research has been on measuring children’s outcomes, but these studies generate little insight into how children themselves make sense of their experiences. There are only a few indepth qualitative studies, mostly conducted outside the UK, exploring the lived experiences of children from armed forces families. This study explores how children of armed forces personnel from schools across Scotland expressed their experiences. It aims to better understand approaches to the provision of inclusive educational support. A suite of methods – object elicitation, video diaries, peer interviewing, drawing, and vignettes – was employed, to generate expressions from a total of 41 children and young people aged eight to 14 years, from three primary and two secondary Scottish schools. A post-qualitative orientation supported the inquiry to look beyond children’s voices in isolation. An assemblage approach was taken to the analysis of the audio/video recordings, transcripts, artefacts, and field notes from the research encounters. The analysis showed how the different and shifting conditions of the research led to the creation of ongoing productive encounters. A key insight was that schools have much unrealised capacity to positively contribute to the experiences of these children. Methodological insights alongside empirical findings are used to generate signposts for the provision of improved educational support. The thesis argues that, ultimately, any improvement will involve entering into reciprocal, experimental, and socio-materially mediated dialogues with children in ways that both align with children’s lived experience of armed forces life but also allow for the exploration of change and becoming-different as outcomes of those dialogues.

Full Reference

Bowes R E. Researching the experiences of children and young people from Armed Forces families. 2018.

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