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Applying an ecological perspective to variations in school exclusion levels

Collins, Cherril Susan (2013) Applying an ecological perspective to variations in school exclusion levels. PhD thesis, University of Leeds.

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The aim of this research is to further understanding of the reasons for variations in school exclusion rates within secondary schools in one Local Authority (LA). The practice of school exclusion is used widely but unevenly, giving cause for concern to both policy makers and educationalists. The far-reaching effects of exclusion from school are well-documented, significantly reducing the well-being and aspirations of the young people involved. The research is structured using an ecosystemic framework, based on Bronfenbrenner’s (1979) original model, but adapted to take into account the complexity of factors impacting on behaviour in schools. Using a mixed methodology, it focuses on variations in fixed-term exclusions. Initially, quantitative methods were used for the descriptive quantitative analysis of the LA historical data. From this analysis three schools with different rates of exclusion were selected for further study. The next part of the data collection employed qualitative methods to explore the perspectives of stakeholders in schools. Interviews were conducted with three school staff, six pupils including four at risk of exclusion, and a parent from each school, using a hierarchical focusing technique (Tomlinson, 1989). The elicitation of pupil perspectives was facilitated by the ‘Talking Stones’ technique developed by Wearmouth (2004). An ecosystemic approach to school exclusion reveals how a complex series of factors, from both outside and within school, impact on variations in school exclusion rate. Findings indicate that variations in rates of exclusion in schools cannot be tied to a single factor but are a reflection of a complex dynamic. At macrosystem level the role of government initiatives, legislation and individual LAs in providing equitable education for all children is called into question. Although school intake has a significant impact on variations in exclusion rate it is also the individual school ethos, influenced by cultural attitudes in the macrosystem, that lead to variations in provisions at exosystem level. School ethos also impacts on the quality of relationships in the mesosystem level influencing staff and home/school communication, and at microsystem level where staff responses are instrumental in preventing or escalating conflict leading to exclusions.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
ISBN: 978-0-85731-339-3
Academic Units: The University of Leeds > Faculty of Education, Social Sciences and Law (Leeds) > School of Education (Leeds)
Identification Number/EthosID: uk.bl.ethos.581647
Depositing User: Repository Administrator
Date Deposited: 06 Sep 2013 12:12
Last Modified: 07 Mar 2014 11:28
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/4443

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