A qualitative study of the parental perspective on the problems of children attending a Primary Pupil Referral Unit

Oliven, Tamara (2020) A qualitative study of the parental perspective on the problems of children attending a Primary Pupil Referral Unit. Professional Doctorate thesis, Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust/University of Essex.

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Abstract

In the academic year of 2017/2018, there were 1210 permanent exclusions and 66,105 fixed term exclusions across all UK primary schools (DfE, 2019), whilst the number of primary school aged children in Pupil Referral Units (PRU) in England has more than doubled since 2011 (Weale, 2019). It is the most vulnerable children in society who experience school exclusion (DfE, 2019). There is limited research on the experiences and views of parents of primary aged children attending a Pupil Referral Unit and this small-scale study attempts to address this gap in the literature. The aim is to both explore and understand the problems of children attending a PPRU from the perspective of their parents and their perception of the sources from which these problems emanate. Seven mothers of primary aged children attending a PRU took part in semi-structured interviews. Data was analysed using Thematic Analysis and findings were presented as key themes that arose from hearing the experiences of the mothers: Understanding the problem, No one cares and Exclusion, isolation and loneliness. This study highlighted important difficulties the mothers identified in their children, including mental health issues. Furthermore, the study also shows how the mothers had an overall negative experience with their children’s previous educational setting. Finally, the study also indicates another layer in how parents’ own difficulties impact upon their children. With the primary focus on parental views, the study’s implications for mental health professionals working in Alternative educational Provisions (including PRUs) are discussed. It is proposed that empowering parents by enhancing their own understanding and increasing their involvement will be significant in promoting wellbeing for this vulnerable population.

Item Type: Thesis (Professional Doctorate)
Additional Information: Thesis submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements of the Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust and the University of Essex for the degree of Professional Doctorate in Child and Adolescent Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy. Full text available for download on 16 December 2025.
Uncontrolled Keywords: Professional Doctorate in Child and Adolescent Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy
Subjects: Families > Parent Child Relations/Parenthood
Learning & Education > Learning & Education in Psychology
Research, Tests, Assessments > Psychotherapy Research
Department/People: Children, Young Adult and Family Services
Research
URI: http://repository.tavistockandportman.ac.uk/id/eprint/2452

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