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Title: A socio-cultural activity theory analysis of inter-agency working between educational psychologists and education welfare officers in relation to complex extended school non-attendance (CESN-A) with implications for improved service delivery
Author: Herriotts-Smith, Stephanie Sue
ISNI:       0000 0004 2748 7031
Awarding Body: University of Birmingham
Current Institution: University of Birmingham
Date of Award: 2013
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Successive governments have afforded high priority to improving school attendance (DfE, 2012). However, inter-agency collaboration to address non-attendance has been hindered by disparity in the literature and among practitioners regarding terminology, definitions, assessment and intervention practices (Kearney, 2008). The current research offers ‘Complex Extended School Non-Attendance’ (CESN-A) as a broader conceptualisation of the issue and seeks to explore and analyse inter-agency working between Educational Psychologists (EPs) and Education Welfare Officers (EWOs) regarding supporting pupils who experience CESN-A. The research adopts case study design and offers a contextualised account within one Local Authority (LA) that has embraced multi-agency working and where EPs and EWOs work together in multi-agency support teams (MASTs). Activity theory (Engeström, 1987) is employed as a theoretical framework and methodology for: examining the socio-cultural processes that mediate the current models of working; analysing and comparing EP and EWO activity systems; surfacing contradictions and proposing new ways of working. The research utilises semi-structured interviews and Developmental Work Research (DWR) to explore the professional learning required to improve inter-agency collaboration. The findings illustrate the multi-layered nature of inter-agency working. Suggested improvements include fostering shared understanding, clarifying role demarcations, establishing structures for collaborative problem-solving and building capacity in schools regarding both understanding the complexities of CESN-A and developing strategies which support attendance. Finally, the research illuminates the value of utilising socio-cultural activity theory as a tool for understanding, analysing and exploring practice and promoting professional learning to facilitate organisational change and ultimately improve service delivery.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Child Psy.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: BF Psychology ; LC Special aspects of education