A grounded theory of successful Educational Psychology practice in Key Stage 4 Pupil Referral Units: A jointly constructed perspective

Blyth, Fiona (2021) A grounded theory of successful Educational Psychology practice in Key Stage 4 Pupil Referral Units: A jointly constructed perspective. Professional Doctorate thesis, Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust / University of Essex. Full text available

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Abstract

School exclusion rates in England have risen consistently in recent years, and Pupil Referral Units (PRUs) and other alternative provisions (APs) are often destinations for those excluded. Many of these young people have identified special educational needs and disabilities (SEND). Whilst there is a large body of research around school exclusion, and some specifically looking at ‘good practice’ in PRUs, very little research has looked at Educational Psychology (EP) practice in these provisions, and how Educational Psychologists (EPs) can be utilised most effectively. This is particularly relevant for Key Stage 4 (KS4), given the high levels of exclusion in this age group and consequently, the poor life outcomes associated with this cohort as they transition to adulthood. This study aimed to explore ‘successful’ EP practice in KS4 PRUs and to identify and explain the mechanisms and factors that can facilitate this. Taking a grounded theory approach (Charmaz, 2014) from a social constructionist perspective, five joint interviews were conducted with EPs and commissioners of EPs working in KS4 PRU settings. 12 participants (six EPs and six commissioners) from five London boroughs were included. Findings frame the EP-commissioner relationship as ‘parents’ who play a ‘parental’ role and function, impacting all other aspects of the system or ‘family’. Relationships across the ‘family’ were fundamental for facilitating change through joint working, reflection and learning. The importance of shared values, goals, approaches and language were highlighted, such as strengths-based approaches, prioritising young people’s involvement and agency, flexibly supporting needs, going above and beyond, taking a systemic approach and planning for positive futures. Literature relating to ‘containment’ (Bion, 1962b) in APs and ideas related to systems psychodynamics (Neumann, 1999) are discussed in relation to EP practice in PRUs.

Item Type: Thesis (Professional Doctorate)
Additional Information: Thesis submitted in partial fulfilment of the Professional Doctorate in Child, Community and Educational Psychology awarded by the Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust in association with the University of Essex
Uncontrolled Keywords: Professional Doctorate in Child, Community and Educational Psychology, Edpsych Updates
Subjects: Learning & Education > Educational Psychology
Learning & Education > Learning & Education in Psychology
Learning & Education > Special Needs Education
Research, Tests, Assessments > Grounded Theory
Department/People: Children, Young Adult and Family Services
Research
URI: http://repository.tavistockandportman.ac.uk/id/eprint/2511

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