School ethos and the spatial turn: ‘capacious’ approaches to research and practice

Helen Manchester, Sara Bragg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

13 Citations (Scopus)


This paper argues that specific spatial imaginaries are embedded in current debates about both school ethos and research methods. It takes the reader on a journey around an English multicultural primary school supported by the creative learning programme Creative Partnerships, exploring how creative arts practices (re)configured socio-spatial relations within the school community over a three-year period.
The paper proposes the metaphor of ‘capaciousness’ to illuminate aspects of research and practice in schools concerning space, learning and the significance of the connections of schools to other spaces, places and networks. Recognising these connections enables us to take account of issues of social justice particularly in relation to schools located in areas of socioeconomic deprivation. A spatial theorization of ethos also questions the concept of boundaries in case study research, and highlights the role of researcher interpretation in constituting what can be recognized as ‘creative’ school ethos.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)818-827
Number of pages11
JournalQualitative Inquiry
Issue number10
Early online date24 Oct 2013
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2013


  • school ethos
  • spatial turn
  • creative arts
  • capacious


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