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An exploration of the perceptions and experiences of non-attenders and school staff within a secondary school context

Beckles, Chenelle (2014) An exploration of the perceptions and experiences of non-attenders and school staff within a secondary school context. D.Ed.Psy thesis, UCL Institute of Education.

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Abstract

Regular school attendance has been identified as being of paramount importance for social, economic, educational and emotional well-being. However, UK schools have experienced high levels of school non-attendance for several years. Government legislation and research highlight the importance of early intervention to combat non-attendance. They also emphasise the need to involve pupils in decisions affecting their lives. However, despite much research into non-attendance, currently there is a paucity of research eliciting the views of non-attenders, particularly non-clinical samples and those at the early stages of non-attendance. There is also a lack of updated qualitative research around school staff experiences of working with non-attenders. This study gained an understanding of the perceptions and experiences of secondary school non-attenders during their early stages of attendance difficulties particularly regarding support they had been offered or used. The study also explored the views of secondary school staff regarding their experiences working with non-attenders and their perceptions of the support available to help these pupils attend school regularly. Semi-structured interviews were undertaken with twelve pupils and six staff members and their perceptions were analysed using thematic analysis. The study revealed that there are several factors impacting on pupils’ unwillingness to attend school, particularly those negatively influencing their sense of school belonging and academic self-concept. Despite supportive strategies in place, non-attenders do not always perceive them as effective. However staff face clear challenges to implement more supportive measures. The key findings emphasised the importance of using an interactionist and systemic perspective to support non-attenders rather than a within-child or family perspective. School issues included a lack of opportunities to gain pupils’ views, poor pupil-teacher relationships and ineffective school systems. The research provides useful recommendations for educational professionals and educational psychologists to promote attendance through collaborative working, pupil participation and early intervention.

Item Type: Thesis (D.Ed.Psy)
Controlled Keywords: Non-attendance, pupil perceptions, thematic analysis
Subjects: Departments > Lifelong and Comparative Education
Depositing User: Mr Julian Zerfahs
Date Deposited: 13 Apr 2015 12:26
Last Modified: 15 Apr 2015 15:10
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