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Title: Teachers' Perceptions of Looked After Children: Behaviour, Attainment and Resilience
Author: Boorn, Clare
ISNI:       0000 0001 3470 2738
Awarding Body: University of East Anglia
Current Institution: University of East Anglia
Date of Award: 2008
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In the context of Every Child Matters (DfES, 2004) and improving outcomes for children and young people, the education of looked after children (LAC) has never been a higher priority for central and local government as well as for those professionals working in Education and Social Services. Research to date acknowledges the poor outcome of educational attainment and has more recently challenged the profile 'of looked after children illuminating the need for a broader proactive definition of educational resilience as a constructive way to promote well being. Teachers are recognised as being well placed to offer a view as to what forms of intervention impact on a child's emotional wellbeing, behaviour and learning capacity. Furthermore, a teacher's belief to bring about change is a powerful influence and correlates highly with performance and academic success. This study contributes to an understanding of educational and problem behaviours associated with children in care. It focuses primarily on teachers' perceptions of problem behavioural differences between looked after children (LAC) and non-looked after children (non-LAC) in social situations. The study addresses what teachers feel able to do in terms of resilience intervention, their role in fostering resilience and how teachers perceive relationships between LAC and others within the school environment. Rooted within a systemic perspective and taking a mUltiple-method approach, the research included a context-setting questionnaire study with 97 primary class teachers in Key Stage 2. At the time of data collection teachers reported on a LAC and a non-LAC matched according to age, class, gender and educational attainment in literacy (reading) and numeracy. A sample of schools was selected from three Local Authorities within the Midlands. 194 completed questionnaires were returned and 16 schools were followed up in a qualitative study, involving 20 in-depth interviews with class teachers who taught a LAC. A randomly selected Comparison Group of similar aged children was also included in the study. Analysis of quantitative data identified a relationship between rising problem behaviour scores and low educational attainment for all children - both LAC and non- LAC. In comparison to the non- LAC group however the looked after sample were perceived by teachers as having raised problem behaviour scores in a range of social situations. In addition, teachers seemed less likely to employ resilience interventions where there were higher levels of behavioural difficulties. Teachers undervalued their own influence in fostering resilience. They also perceived LAC to be more resilient than non-LAC. Qualitative data reported that teachers identified LAC's relationships with ad, ults and peers including their challenging behaviours as barriers that sometimes prohibited educational progress. This study concludes that LAC, many with early care giving histories of abuse, neglect, trauma and loss are at increased risk of impaired psycho-social development, and elevated rates of problem social behavipurs, increasing the risk that they will have depressed educational attainment and problematic behavioural experiences within the school context. For future educational practice, strategies are proposed for better training to ensure that all adults in schools are well equipped in knowledge and skills, as well as having access to meaningful resources in order to provide an optimal learning environment for looked after children. Also, it is important to identify good practice within school systems, inclUding specific protective factors that constitute positive teacher-child relationships in high-risk circumstances, and the processes where intervention programmes have made an impact. �·
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available