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Title: Exploring the experiences and perceptions of Key Stage 4 students whose school attendance is persistently low
Author: How, Karen
ISNI:       0000 0004 5346 2380
Awarding Body: University of Sheffield
Current Institution: University of Sheffield
Date of Award: 2015
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The literature relating to school absenteeism traditionally divides such behaviour into two categories, 'truancy' and 'school refusal'. 'Truancy' is seen as a behavioural issue and 'school refusal' is linked with anxiety and other emotional difficulties (Lauchlan, 2003; Berg et al., 1969). Both have been linked with psychiatric 'disorders' (e.g. Egger et al., 2003). My literature review critiques this dichotomy, problematises the pathologisation of school non-attendance behaviours and questions some of the assumptions inherent in professional intervention attempts. My study is significant because, unusually, it gives a voice to young people themselves and brings no prior assumptions about the reasons for low attendance. My purpose is neither to judge nor to attempt to change behaviour but to explore the sense which young people make of their own experiences. I used Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis (IPA) to analyse the transcripts of five semi-structured interviews with low-attending young people in Year 11 at a single mainstream Upper School. Interview questions related to school experiences past and present, perceived barriers to full school attendance, and aspirations and priorities for the future. Principal themes drawn from the transcripts included social and relational experience, passivity and lack of control, personal competence and agency, values and priorities, school systems and the establishment, and the emotional self. All five participants reported some experience of difficult peer and/or staff-student relationships. Anxiety was a factor for some participants. My discussion considers issues of co-constructed versus professionally imposed values and priorities, young people's emotional well-being, and the importance of the social experience of school. I also explore issues around young people's agency, motivation and control and the passivity which some experience in school and within the wider educational system. I hope that this research will provide those working with low-attending young people some new perspectives to consider and questions to ask.
Supervisor: Davis, Sahaja Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (D.Ed.C.Psy.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available