An exploration of young people in care’s experiences of school belonging in secondary school

Rodger, Erin (2023) An exploration of young people in care’s experiences of school belonging in secondary school. DAppEdPsy thesis, University of Nottingham.

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Young people in care continue to be at an educational disadvantage in comparison to their peers who are not in care, despite government initiatives (Education Committee, 2022; Sebba et al., 2015). School has been acknowledged in the literature as a protective factor for children and young people in care as it is suggested to provide opportunities for success facilitated through consistent and supportive relationships in a safe and predictable environment (Macleod et al., 2021). The importance of belonging for young people in care, adolescence and secondary education has been highlighted in the literature (Hyde & Atkinson, 2019), including the association between school belonging and educational success (Somers et al., 2020). However, a review of the school belonging literature highlighted that limited research has been conducted with young people in care in the UK that centred their individual school belonging experiences from their own perspectives.

Therefore, the current study aimed to explore young people in care’s school belonging experiences in secondary school in the UK. Semistructured interviews were conducted with three young people in care and analysed using Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis. The analysis generated four group experiential themes that were important to the participants’ school belonging experiences. These themes related to the importance of relationships with peers and staff, engagement in school activities, perception of support related to their care status and school being a safe place to escape to. Implications for professional practice include the emphasis on ensuring a stable school experience for young people in care and supporting the development of relationships with peers and a key adult in school. This study has highlighted that young people in care are not a homogenous group which emphasises the importance of professionals seeking to understand their individual experiences and listen to their views.

Item Type: Thesis (University of Nottingham only) (DAppEdPsy)
Supervisors: Hounslow, Russell
Keywords: child welfare, young people, institutional care, secondary school, school belonging
Subjects: H Social sciences > HV Social pathology. Social and public welfare
L Education > LB Theory and practice of education > LB1603 Secondary education. High schools
Faculties/Schools: UK Campuses > Faculty of Science > School of Psychology
Item ID: 76083
Depositing User: Rodger, Erin
Date Deposited: 12 Dec 2023 04:40
Last Modified: 12 Dec 2023 04:40

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