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Title: Exploring the role of attachment representation in academic achievement and mental health of looked after children
Author: Bravery, Katy A.
Awarding Body: University of Southampton
Current Institution: University of Southampton
Date of Award: 2012
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Looked after Children (LAC) arc widely recognised as the most vulnerable group of children within education (DECP, 2006). Chapter 1 explores the research related to LAC and their academic achievement (AA) and mental health outcomes. Furthermore, it explores the theoretical model of attachment theory (Bowlby. 1969; 1973; 1980; 1988) and the role of attachment as a protective factor for LAC. It outlines research that has investigated the influence of attachment on anxiety, depression and AA for school aged children. It aims to specifically extend current research and understanding by exploring the mediating role of secure attachment representation (AR) in the relationship between the effect of being in care on AA and mental health outcome. A range of risk, resilience and developmental pathways (e.g. Bowlby, 1988; Carison, 1988 Sroufe; 1988) arc outlined in order to investigate the potential role of AR as a protective factor for LAC in addition to a proposed model of mediation to be directly tested in Chapter 2. The review further addresses limitations in the current field and discusses potential areas for development. Chapter 2 presents an empirical study that aimed to extend current research and understanding to explore the mediating role of AR on LAC's AA, anxiety and depression. In addition, the study aimed to investigate whether factors such as number of foster placements and duration of being in care influenced AA and mental health. Thirty children (aged 6 to 8 years old) were assigned to two groups consisting of LAC and non-LAC. All children completed story stem assessment of their AR. Foster carers/parents completed measures of each child's anxiety, depression and reactive attachment disorder (RAO). In addition, teachers provided the most recent AA scores for reading, writing and mathematics. The results showed that secure AR fully mediated the effect of being in care on reading and writing AA. Further results indicated that LAC who had experienced a higher number of placements also demonstrated higher insecure, defensive avoidant and disorganised AR, depression scores and RAD behaviour and lower secure AR, reading, writing and mathematics scores. The results are discussed within the theoretical framework whilst drawing comparisons to previous research. Limitations are discussed in addition to practical implications for future research and Educational Psychology practice.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (D.Ed.Psychol.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available