An Appreciative Inquiry of facilitative factors within educational provision perceived to support engagement of students attending a secondary school-based alternative provision unit

Looney, Elaine (2018) An Appreciative Inquiry of facilitative factors within educational provision perceived to support engagement of students attending a secondary school-based alternative provision unit. DAppEdPsy thesis, University of Nottingham.

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Rates of school exclusion continue to show annual increase in England (DfE, 2016; DfE, 2017a). Increasingly, there is an impetus to adopt a focus on ‘what works’ to promote educational success for students who experience, or who are ‘at risk’ of school exclusion (e.g. Hart, 2013). The importance of organisational intervention in the prevention of school exclusion is well-cited (e.g. Hallam & Castle, 2001) and gaining the views of students is seen as an essential component of this process (e.g. Cole, 2015).

The current study used Appreciative Inquiry (AI) within qualitative, case study methodology to explore how facilitative factors within an internal alternative provision unit in an East Midlands secondary school enables educational success for students who had experienced fixed-term exclusion, according to the views of groups of students, staff and parents.

Thematic Analysis (TA) (Braun & Clarke, 2006) suggested that positive teacher-student relationships was perceived as the most prolific enabling factor cited by students, reflecting previous research (e.g. Michael & Frederickson, 2013). The importance of regular, respectful and balanced home-school communication and of supportive peer relationships was also noted by all participants. A nurture-based, non-judgemental ethos, underpinned by high expectations and equality, which seeks to empower students and prepare them for life was reported as facilitative. Participant groups concurred on factors that facilitated a conducive learning environment, including. systems underpinned by consistent boundaries, small class groups. A curriculum perceived by students as relevant, meaningful and practical, as well as engaging, accessible, well-differentiated lessons with high levels of learning support, was reported by all participant groups reported as essential to students’ educational engagement. Students articulated their sense of safety, belonging, autonomy and competence within these educational experiences as facilitating their engagement, positive behaviour change and intrinsic motivation to succeed at school.

The AI process appeared to enable the surfacing of elements of best practice within the research setting, the elicitation of participants’ visions to develop these and the generation of an action plan through which several of these ideas were realised. However, macro-systemic factors at a national level were described as current barriers to provision development for these students.

Positive actions that can be taken by schools, local and national policy-makers and EPs to address the issue of school exclusion are discussed within this paper. It is hoped that these outcomes can contribute to a growing knowledge base of ‘what works’ for students deemed ‘at risk’ of school exclusion to punctuate the cycles of exclusion currently perpetuated within the education system.

Item Type: Thesis (University of Nottingham only) (DAppEdPsy)
Supervisors: Durbin, Nick
Keywords: School exclusion; Appreciative Inquiry; engagement; support; success; student views; alternative provision
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
L Education > LB Theory and practice of education > LB1050 Educational psychology
Faculties/Schools: UK Campuses > Faculty of Science > School of Psychology
Item ID: 53788
Depositing User: Looney, Elaine
Date Deposited: 11 Dec 2018 04:40
Last Modified: 08 Feb 2019 09:00

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