• An Identity Process Theory Account of the Impact of Boarding School on Sense of Self and Mental Health: an Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis

      Simpson, Frances; Haughton, Melanie; Van Gordon, William; University of Derby (Springer Science and Business Media LLC, 2021-03-08)
      Boarding schools exist to provide education for children, but this involves the child leaving the family home and residing in an educational institution. Identity Process Theory suggests that such a change in circumstances can threaten the child’s identity, which triggers coping strategies and impacts on the individual’s self-concept during both childhood and adulthood. This study undertook an Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis of semi-structured interviews conducted with five adults who boarded as children. The focus was on exploring participants’ beliefs in terms of how the boarding experience affected their sense of self. Emerging themes relate to the (i) coping strategies used by participants during childhood, such as amnesia, compartmentalising, compliance and acceptance, and (ii) long-term effects of boarding on identity, self-concept and intimate relationships. Findings also highlight the interplay of factors such as privilege and social class, which were reported as motives for participants’ parents choosing boarding for their children. The study raises important questions about the long-term health impacts of sending children away to board.