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Title: Exploring theories of belonging held by senior leaders in a secondary school
Author: Leonard, Rachel Elizabeth
ISNI:       0000 0004 6352 2420
Awarding Body: Newcastle University
Current Institution: University of Newcastle upon Tyne
Date of Award: 2016
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This practitioner research sought to explore the way in which the senior management of a school for children with behaviour, social and emotional difficulties understood student belonging at school. Belonging is considered to be an important component in emotional well-being and protective of mental health. However, attempts to explore belonging at school have been frustrated by the use in the literature of a range of allied concepts, including relatedness, engagement and school connectedness, and research approaches which over-focus on self-evaluative methods and the correlation of data. A theory of change approach was initiated to explore the management team’s understanding of belonging and to support planning for interventions to develop student sense of belonging. Semi-structured interviews were completed with the school senior management team over 4 phases of research covering three years, and theories of change developed. However, the implementation of the theories in the school was unsuccessful, and the direction of the research had to be reviewed. The theory of change framework was, instead, used as an analytic tool along with thematic analysis of the data corpus. The management team’s understanding of belonging appeared to fall into two areas; belonging as experience, which focused on the subjective experience of belonging and belonging as transition which focused on the development and changes of the student and the community (the school) as belonging develops. It was also suggested that the management team considered that student sense of belonging at school could be developed through good relationships with staff and by making the school more accessible and attractive to students. Further conclusions were drawn about the way students are perceived by the school management team, and the failure to include the students in the research process. It is suggested that there are particularly challenges for educational psychologists carrying out research in schools where there are pre-existing relationships with staff.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (D.Ed.Psy.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available