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Title: Multi-agency working for children with physical difficulties : an investigation into the processes and effects of joint planning
Author: Newton, Jill
ISNI:       0000 0004 2699 0348
Awarding Body: University of East London
Current Institution: University of East London
Date of Award: 2006
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Context: Children with physical difficulties are increasingly included in mainstream schools in the United Kingdom. These children are likely to have many agencies supporting them and helping to meet their needs, for example physiotherapists and occupational therapists. In recent years the working practice of many professionals has changed from clinic based practice to a school focused model. The purpose of this research is to measure the effectiveness of multi-agency support for children with physical difficulties who attend mainstream schools. Current legislation encourages multi-agency working practices but gives little guidance as to how to do this for the maximum benefit of the children. Methods: The participants were two groups of children with physical difficulties aged between six and ten years of age, who attended mainstream schools. For one group of children the professionals involved jointly developed the child's individual education plan (IEP). For the other group professional planning was completed separately. The intervention ran for a period of six months. The children's progress was measured both before and after the intervention using the School Function Assessment (SFA), a comprehensive measure of functional skills. Functional skills are the non-academic skills required for participation in the academic and related social aspects of an educational programme. The self-esteem of the children was measured pre- and postintervention using the Self Image Profiles for Children (SIP-C). The research also investigated the processes involved in multi-agency working through focus group discussions. The children's views were collected through interviews and drawings. Results There were small differences between the functional skills scores for the two groups of children. Although the differences were not statistically significant the children whose programmes were jointly planned made more progress in particular for cognitive/behavioural tasks. The gains in self-esteem were statistically significant with the joint planning group attaining increased scores and the separately planning group showing decreases. The groups of professionals who planned together communicated more and with greater specificity and detail. This led to more problem solving and actions taken to meet the needs of the child. The members of these groups and others in the wider school demonstrated a sense of responsibility for the child and felt empowered to contribute to the child's programme of support. The children who had joint plans demonstrated a clear and realistic understanding of their needs and they were able to express this through talking and drawing. Outcomes: As a result of this research, recommendations are made for professional practice in a multi-agency framework. The assessment of functional skills is recommended as a measure of progress and a focus for appropriate target setting for children with physical difficulties.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (D.Ed.Psych.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available