An exploration of school leaders' decision-making to exclude a student from school: What can we learn from their experiences?

Williams, Tracey (2022) An exploration of school leaders' decision-making to exclude a student from school: What can we learn from their experiences? Professional Doctorate thesis, Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust / University of Essex. Full text available

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Abstract

Exclusion from school is an acknowledged problem. Outcomes for children and young people (CYP) who are excluded from school are poor, with over-representation in the criminal justice system, involvement with substance misuse, poorer health and anti-social behaviour. The aim of this study was to explore experiences of school leaders (SLs) decision-making to exclude a student from secondary schools, including what considerations and learning they take into account. The study was conducted with SLs from seven schools in one Local Authority in the South-East of England. Semi-structured interviews were conducted and analysed using Thematic Analysis. Three key themes were found: challenges with creating cultural change; challenges with meeting the needs of CYP at risk of exclusion; and the need for specific personal and leadership skills. The findings suggest: i) decision-making to exclude is strongly influenced by organisational culture and, therefore, SLs need to engage at a whole school level to create an environment where the need to exclude is reduced. ii) Systems to support decision-making were often implemented too rigidly. When SLs were able to use these systems flexibly it led to greater consideration of alternatives to exclusion. A lack of alternatives to exclusion was also a key finding. iii) Specific leadership skills and personal qualities are identified that SLs utilised to help with their decision-making. Implications from the findings include: the need for schools to regularly review their whole school culture/ethos; regular professional development on intervention with, and responses to, CYP at risk of exclusion; greater co-ordination with special educational needs systems; policy guidance focusing on preventative approaches; greater support for SLs in their roles and the use of systemic theory to understand organisational change. The implications for educational psychology practice are also considered.

Item Type: Thesis (Professional Doctorate)
Additional Information: Thesis submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements of the Professional Doctorate in Child and Educational Psychology awarded by the Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust in collaboration with the University of Essex.
Uncontrolled Keywords: Professional Doctorate in Child and Educational Psychology, Edpsych Updates
Subjects: Learning & Education > Educational Psychology
Learning & Education > Learning & Education in Psychology
Learning & Education > Special Needs Education
Department/People: Children, Young Adult and Family Services
Research
URI: http://repository.tavistockandportman.ac.uk/id/eprint/2700

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