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To overcome the effects of socioeconomic barriers on education, many independent schools offer financial aid in the way of scholarships and bursaries. This financial aid is intended to offer access to quality education for underprivileged youth; however, positive school experiences rely on more than just physical access. This study explored the psychosocial experiences of underprivileged adolescent girls attending an independent affluent school. By using Erikson’s psychosocial theory of development, Bronfenbrenner’s Ecosystemic Model, gender differences in development, as well as the Students Multiple Worlds Model, an understanding is created of how moving between worlds of affluence and poverty may influence the identity formation of the female adolescent learner. This phenomenological study was conducted using the qualitative, interpretative method of interpretative phenomenological analysis. Using a series of unstructured interviews with each participant, information was gathered that provided insight into the psychosocial experiences of each of these girls. Findings were focused on areas of cultural identity, value formation, feelings of belonging, social comparison and perceptions of support. These findings contribute to the improved functioning of bursary programmes in independent schools and will enhance the well-being of adolescent girls in navigating between the worlds of affluence and poverty.
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