Exploring teaching staff's narratives about the use of Solution Circles to support pupils with Social Emotional and Mental Health (SEMH) needs

Kemp, Katie (2020) Exploring teaching staff's narratives about the use of Solution Circles to support pupils with Social Emotional and Mental Health (SEMH) needs. DAppEdPsy thesis, University of Nottingham.

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Background: Solution Circles (SCs) are a collaborative group consultation approach based on the principles of inclusion (Forest & Pearpoint, 1996). One of the most prominent issues regarding inclusion in education is how we support children who have Social, Emotional and Mental Health (SEMH) needs (British Psychological Society [BPS], 2002). Young people with SEMH needs report teachers as their most common source of support (Meltzer, Gatward, Goodman, & Ford, 2000). Research has found addressing SEMH needs can be emotionally and physically exhausting for teachers (Cole, 2010), and is a primary factor in teacher burnout (Bauer et al., 2006). However, the opportunity for teachers to reflect through narrative peer support groups and group consultations has been recognised as a key source of support when working with pupils with SEMH needs (Rae, Cowell & Field, 2017; Davison & Duffy, 2017). There is limited empirical evidence concerning group consultation approaches (Bennet & Monsen, 2011) and currently, only two published studies on SCs (Grahamslaw & Henson, 2015).

Aim: The current research aimed to explore teaching staff’s narratives about the use of SCs to support a young person with SEMH needs.

Design: The researcher facilitated SCs with teaching staff within secondary schools for five focus pupils with identified SEMH needs. The staff member who had the most responsibility for the young person took the role of ‘Problem Presenter’ in the SC and participated in two narrative interviews afterwards. The first interview was held approximately one week after the SC, as the next steps determined in the SC are implemented in the first few days. The second interview was held approximately six weeks after, in line with the plan-do-review process (Department for Education [DfE], 2015a). Narrative methods were adopted to understand how teaching staff make sense of potentially challenging experiences (Becker, 1997). The researcher utilised an adapted Narrative Orientated Inquiry (NOI) (Hiles & Cermack, 2008). A multi-layer analysis was employed using the following interpretative perspectives: holistic-form and categorical-content (Lieblich, Tuval-Mashiach & Zilber, 1998).

Findings/Conclusion: The holistic-form analysis identified the types of stories told by teaching staff about the use of SCs to support pupils with SEMH needs. Teaching staff’s narratives were generally of a ‘romantic saga’ typology (Gergen & Gergen, 1988), with multiple periods of regression and progression throughout the story. Stories appeared to start in a period of challenge; then progression seemed to occur at the point of the SC. Following the SC, variable progressive and regressive accounts were given by teaching staff. The categorical-content analysis found that in relation to their experience of the SC, teaching staff’s narratives focused on aspects of the ‘process’ and ‘affective factors’. The second categorical-content analysis found that six weeks after the SC, teaching staff narrated individual accounts of supporting the young person in relation to ‘implementing change’, ‘conceptualisation of the young person’, ‘relationships/support’, ‘affective factors’, and ‘moving forward’. Overall, the solution-orientated and positive approach of SCs was suggested to have some positive impact on teaching staff’s narratives, though individual stories showed variation due to the complexities of each situation. Future implications of this research are considered in relation to teaching staff, schools, Educational Psychology, and further research.

Item Type: Thesis (University of Nottingham only) (DAppEdPsy)
Supervisors: Durbin, Nick
Keywords: Solution Circles, Social Emotional and Mental Health needs, SEMH
Subjects: L Education > LB Theory and practice of education > LB1050 Educational psychology
Faculties/Schools: UK Campuses > Faculty of Science > School of Psychology
Item ID: 61233
Depositing User: Kemp, Katie
Date Deposited: 21 May 2021 10:54
Last Modified: 12 Nov 2021 14:48
URI: https://eprints.nottingham.ac.uk/id/eprint/61233

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