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Title: Difficulties in number experienced by children aged 7 to 11 in public care in England
Author: Griffiths, Rose
ISNI:       0000 0004 5361 6765
Awarding Body: University of Cambridge
Current Institution: University of Cambridge
Date of Award: 2014
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Researchers and governments in the UK and elsewhere have raised concern about the low average levels of educational attainment reached by children in public care. This study explores the causes and nature of looked-after children’s difficulties in mathematics, and suggests potential improvements for policy and practice in the future. I undertook case studies, across a period of a year, of five looked-after children aged 7 to 11 with varied ‘care backgrounds’ who were identified as having difficulties in mathematics, and used clinical interviews to explore their understanding and skills in counting, place value, addition and subtraction. Interviews with the children, their class teachers, teaching assistants and other adults in school provided data about each child’s experience of mathematics in school, and I interviewed each child’s main foster carer to explore the mathematics the child did at home, and to examine the links between home and school. My study identified several barriers to each child’s progress, including a lack of recognition of the effects of previous trauma, loss and neglect, on the child’s ability to engage in educational activity. School systems of organising mathematics teaching sometimes separated the child from classmates and teachers; poor assessment, poor teaching, and the child’s own avoidance techniques meant they were not able to engage successfully in mathematics lessons. There was little evidence of positive links between home and school to help the child make progress, but some unacknowledged good practice within the home environment that could be shared. Similarly, some teachers were making a positive difference to the child in their care, but would have benefited from additional support and professional development. Productive approaches found during the study included using the clinical interview for detailed assessment; using oral and practical work in context to increase understanding of arithmetic; and a focus on metacognition using visually stimulated recall, to show the child that they could be successful.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral