Finding a positive educational identity Research with young by 5SMUw1


									Finding a positive educational identity

Research with young people in the care system
 about what helps and hinders enjoyment and
                  David Hodgson, Principal Lecturer
                       School of Social Work
        Kingston University & St George‟s University of London

 A small scale study of educational experiences among
young people looked after in one local authority 2007-8

                  Policy background
       Concerns about educational achievement
            among young people in care
        Issues and gaps highlighted previously
         Project aims, objectives and methods

                               Policy Background
           1970s - concerns about education for young people in public care
                     1980s & 1990s - NAYPIC, Who Cares? Trust

         1999 - Government‟s Objectives for Children‟s Social Services (DoH)
       2000 - Guidance on the Education of Young People in Public Care (DfEE)

   Children (Leaving Care) Act 2000 – pathway plans up to 21 + advice / assistance


Being healthy…being safe…enjoying   and achieving…making a positive contribution…economic well-being

               Children Act 2004 – statutory duty to promote education of
                                  looked after children + Guidance (DfES)
  Care Matters: Transforming the Lives of Children and Young People in Care, 2006
                        Care Matters: Time for Change, 2007
                        Children and Young Persons Act 2008
Concerns about educational achievement of
          young people in care

     Issues and gaps highlighted by
            literature review
Objective/subjective approaches to educational outcomes

Interaction between care and educational experience

Contribution of key actors – including young people

Enjoying and achieving

Experiences of young people with specific learning needs

C4EO scoping study 2009

           Interaction between care and
              educational experience

„The social risk factors associated with family breakdown and
entry into care are themselves closely linked to educational
failure. It is disingenuous therefore to attribute the poor academic
results of looked-after children mainly to inadequacies in social
work (and not schools, interestingly), which has often occurred.‟
Berridge, 2007, p4

C4EO identified a gap in literature on „the impact of care
experiences on learning processes and interaction of care and
education with children‟s emotional and behavioural difficulties‟
Brodie et al, 2009, p.16

          Contribution of key actors -
           including young people
Key actors
social care and education professionals?
carers, family and friends?
young people themselves?

„By Degrees‟, Jackson et al 2005
5-year longitudinal study of university students with care
Focus on strengths - key factors associated with success in HE
included placement with educationally supportive foster carers;
consistent LA financial & personal support.

                   Enjoying & achieving

Children Act 2004 s10 statutory duty of cooperation
with a view to promoting combined wellbeing outcome
(children‟s services, police, probation, YOT, health bodies, education)

Reframed in legislation as „education, training and

Every Child Matters 2003 – more „achieving‟ than

Previous research emphasis on achieving

        Three dimensions of
      educational achievement
              (Gallagher et al, 2004)

Receipt of       Engagement        Attainment
Placement        Behaviour         Literacy and
Attendance       Relationships     numeracy
Punctuality      Participation     Examinations
Truancy          Motivation        Post-16 years
Stability                          education and

    Experiences of young people with
        specific learning needs

Definitions and legal responsibilities
„special educational needs‟ – Education Act 1996
„disability‟ – Disability Discrimination Act 1995
„disabled child‟ – Children Act 1989

28% of children in care have a statement of SEN
compared to 3% of all children (DCSF, 2009)

Negative indicator or positive recognition?

C4EO scoping study found „discussion of special
educational needs is limited‟ (Brodie et al, 2009, p2)

Research aims, objectives & methods

To identify and explore factors associated with
positive educational achievement and outcomes
experienced by looked after children in the local

To explore the impact on educational achievement
of interventions involving key people including
professionals in children‟s services

                Specific Objectives
to recognise factors identified in UK as impact on the
educational achievements of young people in general and
of looked after children specifically, by reviewing and
summarising relevant literature;

to explore correlations between certain factors and
educational achievements of looked after children in the
local authority (over a period of two years or more), by
analysis of data already collected;

to explore how looked after young people perceive
educational achievement and what factors they and others
connected with them believe have helped or hindered
looked after children to enjoy and achieve in education, by
qualitative empirical study.

                        Qualitative Research
                              Phase One Sample:
       All young people „looked after‟ who were aged 16 on 31/3
          in two cohorts 2005 & 2006 – 16 / 29 (55%) took part

               Phase Two Sample: Nominated Persons
    Invitation: nominate up to 3 people who know something about
         your experience of education and / or who helped you

                11/ 16 (69%) young people made nominations

                Nominated persons - role and participation in the research
Role of        Foster   Teacher   Social   Parent   Friend   Sibling   Connexions   Other
Nominated      Carer              Worker                                 Worker     Prof‟l Total
Contacted        5        4         3        2        2        1           1          1    19
Participated     4        3         3        1        0        0           1          0    12 63%

Phase One: Young people interview / questionnaire Topics

  Introduction                           Topics
  Thank you very much for helping        Here is a list of the topics. Each topic
  with this research.                    has a number and comes in a
  The questionnaire is not a test.       separate box.
  The researchers are interested in      1. About me
  your views and your experiences.       2. Things I enjoy and things I am good
  Don’t worry if you don’t know          at
  what to say to any of the              3. My experience of school and
  questions or don’t want to give an     education
  answer.                                4. What helps me to get most out of
  Some of the questions ask you to       school and education
  finish the sentence. Questions         5. Any problems with school
  like this: ‘Activities I enjoy doing   6. My hopes, ambitions and plans
  are…’. Other questions are just        8. What other people should do to
  ordinary ones with a question          support young people with education
  mark at the end - ‘?’                  9. My advice to other young people in
  If you need more space for             care
  writing, please use the other side     10. Anything else to say
  of the paper and put the question      11. Other people I would like the
  number with your answer.               researchers to talk to

                     Phase One Analysis
 Grounded theory (Glaser and Strauss, 1967, cited in Denscombe, 2007)

 Software assisted - NVivo Version 7.0 (QSR International, 2007)
 Qualitative (question topics)
 Quantitative (frequency – n. young people, n. references)

                     Phase Two Analysis
              Interview data from young people
Data from interviews / questionnaires with nominated persons
           (up to 3 nominated by 10 young people)
                 10 case study–type accounts
  Further thematic analysis building on phase one analysis

Young peoples‟ perceptions and definitions of
educational achievement

Factors young people associated with positive and
negative educational experience

Contribution of key actors – supporters and detractors

Interplay between enjoying and achieving

Managing the impact of disruption and distress
connected with personal and family life

Recognition of specific learning needs
          Young people‟s perceptions and
       definitions of educational achievement

 Sarah: getting good grades in GCSE’s.        John: going to school everyday,
 Getting good qualifications at school        attending all lessons

                 Harry: to become better…it means to work hard…
attainment       and to achieve something…for the future. Get          instrumental
outcomes         better grades and end up getting a good job.          outcomes
(results)        Just to like give it all I've got’                    (receiving,
   Anne-Marie: getting where you
                                              Nick: learning I suppose. Learning
   want to get to, doing what you
                                              something you don't already know.
   want to do. I want to go into
                          Diane: it helps me to calm down.

Factors young people associated with positive
    and negative educational experience
+                                          -
Motivation – self & others                    Impact of distress associated
Support (moral, emotional, practical) from   family & personal relationships
                                                   (internalising, externalising)
key individuals & support „cluster‟
(eg. carer, teacher, friends)                     Loss of sense of control
Stable and supportive care placement               Specific learning needs
Social work help with school placement              recognition / response

Responsive learning environment                             Bullying by peers
previous: recognition, respect, support
                                              Use of control and restraint in
current: choice
                                              school (esp. young people with
Clear goals and incentives                        specific learning disabilities)

Contribution of Key Actors - „Supporters‟ and „Detractors‟

     Role                 Sources   +   −   +&−   Unclear or
     School / teachers      12      3   4    5
     Friends                11      8   1    2
     Foster Carer            9      8                 1
     Social services /       9      3   2    4
     social workers
     Tutor                   5      4                 1
     Self                    4          3             1
     Connexions              4      4
     Siblings (sisters)      3      3
     Mum                     3      3
     Dad                     1          1

               Social Workers as supporters

Ben felt that the person who helped most with his education was his
social worker. „She kept me strong and reminded me what I was
capable of. She kept motivating me to achieve‟…

The social worker (of 2 years from 16+ Team) explained that she had
offered help and support in various ways, including „seeking
alternative education and training, encouraging him to attend GCSE
revision groups, arranging for a Maths and English tutor, arranging
for his computer to be collected from his foster carer and taken to his
new placement, advocating for support with travel, stationery and
equipment etc‟.

„It showed him that…whatever he felt he needed to support his
education that was within our remit, he received. He also felt secure
in that he had someone who would advocate for him and listen‟.

      Exploring the interplay between
          enjoying and achieving
Unhappiness at school linked to bullying and/or teacher
discipline/control issues

Friendships important for positive social / emotional school
experience and often as support for educational progress

Stability and support in care placement associated with enjoyment
and achievement at school

„Second chance‟ enjoyment and achievement – linked to changed
learning environments and consistent support networks

      Exploring the interplay between
          enjoying and achieving
„When I was in school I was put on a statement…so I think that is
classed as special needs help. But the teachers never really
acknowledged it…I did have a teacher in some classes to sit there
and help me with the work…But in some lessons it was just like I
was getting confused so I was just like 'what's going on?' and that's
when I would like start throwing things around the classroom, start
being destructive…

…there was one teacher (a special needs teacher) she was always
there encouraging me when I was at school…telling me to get to my
lesson, make sure I was at lesson. You know.

Harry felt that problems surrounding personal relationships involving
girlfriends had also affected his education.

      Exploring the interplay between
          enjoying and achieving
…it does mess with your head if you really like the other person, and
they like you, but they're moving away so… I got a lot of support
from different kinds of people. They knew what I was going through
at the time. And I had mates there for me‟.

„…My foster mum was the one, even though I didn't like school,
she'd be the one every morning, knocking on my door. “Gotta get to
school”, “don't care, you gotta go to school” …She was there for me,
more than anyone else when I was in school.

„Now I do actually enjoy getting up, going to college cos I'm in a
course I actually really do think I'm achieving something…It's just
like, it motivates me, gets me going…Still got my maths, English to
do …I feel like getting up in the morning, going… You've got your
mates there…Got teachers, teachers at college are much better than
school teachers, I have to say that…They're much more laid back.

Managing disruption and distress connected
       with personal and family life
9 out of 10 young people in case studies reported secondary
education affected by distress associated with problems connected
to personal / family relationships and interrupted care

Case studies illustrate range of strategies used by young people to
cope with emotional distress associated with disruption and loss

Issues related to control and young people‟s efforts to regain a
sense of personal agency are prominent

Counselling help was often available but tended to be separate
from rather than integrated with other aspects of care / educational

Managing disruption and distress connected
       with personal and family life
„When I first started I was in the Top 10 in the year, when I went into care I
stopped going so missed a lot…‟ The loss of a sense of having control over
events and circumstances had a significant effect on Belinda‟s attitude to
school. „As I was in foster care and I didn‟t like it, I decided to make a
change to do what I liked to do. This meant not going to school – as I
couldn‟t change my home life…No one really helped as I didn‟t want to be
at school, I didn‟t want to be helped.

The disruption to home life affected her health. Belinda described problems
of „self-harming‟ that affected her education. I went to ***** project,
counselling services. The counselling didn‟t help though, it made me more

Belinda‟s teacher agreed that the barriers to achievement were „her
personal situation and the constant crisis…Belinda was capable of far more
but was unable to reach that potential at that point in her life.‟

Recognition of specific learning needs
Late diagnosis and lack of compensation

Young person‟s understanding & expectation of support
for specific educational needs

Inconsistent implementation of support for special
educational needs in mainstream school

Communication breakdown and discontinuity of support
for special educational needs

Transforming expectations about educational
achievement through carer advocacy and support

Recognition of specific learning needs
„I think I am dyslexic…I couldn‟t really understand the work…At middle
school I was in a special class and read different books because of
being dyslexic. When I went to secondary school the information must
not have been passed on, as they didn‟t give me any support. I‟ve
asked my social worker about Dyslexia Assessment but I‟m not sure if
they will pay for it‟…

From Sarah‟s perspective, there had been several obstacles to
enjoying and achieving at school. „I got bullied at school. Teachers,
the way they talked to me, telling me what to do. I didn‟t like the
manner – talking „down‟ to me. The bullying didn‟t get sorted so I left
early‟. „Not getting assessed as being dyslexic‟ contributed to feelings
that her needs were not being recognised.

„If you‟re stressed or depressed you either don‟t want to go into
classes or day dream. You can‟t take anything in. But it‟s sad really
because it can affect you all your life‟.
Recognition of specific learning needs
Amelia had been Sarah‟s social worker for a year and a half since the
end of her compulsory education. She felt strongly that there should
have been an earlier diagnosis and suitable support in secondary
school but it was unclear whether the social worker was currently
attempting to facilitate a formal assessment.
„The diagnosis as the moment is informal. It is what the team and
myself have observed…‟

Amelia felt Sarah‟s learning difficulties had got in the way of her
enjoying and achieving at school and suspected that Sarah‟s own
attitude could have prevented her from getting the most from help that
was on offer. „I believe Sarah had a lot of tutoring supporting and was
also offered emotional and financial support. I am not sure it made a
difference as she is notoriously hard to engage‟.

                         Positive Interpersonal
                          Learning Environment
                     (people, places, plans, processes)
              network of                                 formal and
              enthusiasts &        commitment          informal learning
              supporters            motivation         spaces & places
                          learning needs / requirements
                                 Young Person               achievement
         planning and
                                perception of what          incentives -
         review of care
                               achievement means            symbolic &
         & educational
                                     sense of               financial
              views & feelings       & control         respect in
              about care                               managing
               placement        emotional impact
A model for      recognised      of personal and
gauging key                      family problems
factors in positive
educational experience                                                     29
          Three levels for interpreting and applying
                      research findings
                     (adapted from Lymbery and Butler, eds. 2004)

       Micro Level                      Mezzo Level                    Macro Level
                                                                         
  Individual interactions          integrated child welfare        Socio-political factors,
young people, their peers,      systems – organisational and        including local and
  families, professionals            bureaucratic factors             national policies

                                                                           
  Action by young people,        Action by senior managers in        Action by those with
      carers, front line         children‟s services and other        influence on wider
    professionals, staff         organisations involved in the      policies, attitudes and
involved in training, support   provision of services for young   opinions – including local
      and supervision                        people                and national politicians,
                                                                       pressure groups
                              Thanks to:
Young people and nominated people who participated in the research
       Members of the Steering Group and Advisory Group
          Anne Hignett and staff of the local authority
               Karen Okuefuna, Emina Atic-Lee and
              colleagues at the School of Social Work

                      David Hodgson, Principal Lecturer
                           School of Social Work
            Kingston University & St George‟s University of London

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