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Title: An investigation into the training needs of school staff in relation to their understanding about children who are looked after by social care
Author: Grant, Joanna
ISNI:       0000 0004 2711 1077
Awarding Body: University of East London
Current Institution: University of East London
Date of Award: 2009
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An examination into the training needs of school staff in relation to their knowledge and skills about children who are looked after by Social Care. There have been many studies and reports highlighting the disadvantage and poor educational outcomes experienced by young people who are looked after by the care system. Many government documents have emphasised the need to raise the educational attainment of this vulnerable group of young people. Little evidence was found which established the experiences and needs of professionals in relation to being able to confidently support young people who are in care. This study investigated the training needs of school staff who do already, or could one day, work with and support a child who is looked after (CLA). The study considered individual constructs which professionals hold, establishing their perceptions, beliefs and opinions about their expertise and the educational experiences of CLA. This research identified gaps in pedagogical knowledge and expertise as noted by school staff themselves, Social Workers (SWs) and Designated Teachers (DTs). The term school staff includes teachers, Learning Support Assistants (LSAs) and Teaching Assistants (TAs). This research differs from other studies due to the methodological approach used and the participants consulted. The study involved a mixed methodological approach to establish, in detail, the views of professionals who work with CLA. Questionnaires were sent to school staff and this resulted in mostly quantitative data being produced. Semi-Structured Interviews (SSIs) were conducted with SWs and DTs resulting in qualitative data. The mixed methods approach combined what Greene, Caracelli and Graham (1989) described as Triangulation' and 'Complementarity' which enhance the validity and interpretability of the constructs given by participants. The methods used were chosen as they enabled overlapping (complementarity) and cross checking (triangulation) assessment of the data collected. The study used Thematic Analysis (Braun and Clarke 2007) to analyse in detail the transcripts from the SSIs. Thematic analysis enabled the creation and application of codes to be gathered from the data. The notion of coding refers to the creation of categories in relation to the rich data gathered. Coding enabled the grouping together of different data under a universal heading. The findings produced recommendations to enhance the knowledge and skills of school staff who may already or could one day work with CLA. It has been established that professionals feel there is a need for training/information to be given to school staff as a tool to help overcome the gaps in pedagogical knowledge which school staff themselves acknowledged are present (through the completion of questionnaires). This study makes recommendations to address the barriers which SWs and DTs face in relation to CLA and education. The outcome from this research aimed to promote a wider understanding about the needs of CLA by the highlighted pedagogical gaps being addressed. The research is timely due to the statutory changes in relation to the role of the DT becoming statutory in 2008. The outcome from this research has enabled support for DTs and school staff by providing them with information and resources to empower them with their work. This research has highlighted the areas DTs need to ensure their school staff are familiar and confident with in order to best support CLA and to help enhance the educational experiences for CLA.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (D.App.Ed.Ch.Psy.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available