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What school factors impact on the behaviour of secondary students deemed to have attachment difficulties? A pupil perspective.

Casey, Julie (2015) What school factors impact on the behaviour of secondary students deemed to have attachment difficulties? A pupil perspective. DEdPsy thesis, University of Sheffield.

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The challenges presented by students with behavioural, emotional and social difficulties (BESD) in mainstream settings remain high-profile in educational, social, and political contexts. Exclusion figures (while decreasing since their peak in 2003-4), continue to signal our failure to successfully engage and include a significant minority of young people within their local mainstream schools, particularly at secondary level. While the social and legislative context since the 1990s has led to a proliferation of pupil voice research from within a qualitative paradigm, studies of the voices of secondary students with BESD in mainstream settings have been limited, and their potential contribution in shaping policy and practice within schools largely ignored. Existing research in this area has tended to treat those with BESD as a homogenous group, disregarding the potentially diverse needs underpinning their challenging behaviour. This study proposes that attachment difficulties might underpin some students’ BESD and makes the case for the use of an attachment framework as a lens through which to make sense of such students’ behaviour, and as a tool for tailoring differentiated support mechanisms and interventions that may be different from, or additional to, those often implemented in schools to manage the behaviour of challenging students. Five mainstream secondary school students with BESD deemed to be underpinned by attachment difficulties by school staff participated in semi-structured interviews in order to identify the within-school factors which impacted on their behaviour in school. Transcripts were analysed using Thematic Analysis, using both inductive and theoretically-driven codes. Three major themes were identified as impacting (positively or negatively) on participants’ behaviour in school: ‘Connectedness’, ‘Having a voice’ and ‘Fairness and justice’. The findings were analysed in relation to existing research with undifferentiated groups of students with BESD and commonalities and differences highlighted. Concepts from within an attachment framework were utilised in interpreting the key differences found, and a range of recommendations for school practice at strategic and operational levels proposed as a result, as well as considerations for future research with this under-researched and vulnerable group of young people.

Item Type: Thesis (DEdPsy)
Academic Units: The University of Sheffield > Faculty of Social Sciences (Sheffield) > School of Education (Sheffield)
Identification Number/EthosID: uk.bl.ethos.666637
Depositing User: Mrs Julie Casey
Date Deposited: 18 Sep 2015 15:21
Last Modified: 03 Oct 2016 12:19
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/10086

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