The positive educational experiences of ‘looked-after’ children and young people

Prof Doc Thesis

Cann, Nicola 2012. The positive educational experiences of ‘looked-after’ children and young people. Prof Doc Thesis University of East London School of Psychology
AuthorsCann, Nicola
TypeProf Doc Thesis

Research has consistently reported the academic underachievement of children in care (Department for Education and Skills, 2005), with authors reporting associations between academic performance and later outcomes. People with experience of care are over-represented amongst adults in prison (Social Exclusion Unit, 2003), mental health service users (Jackson & Simon, 2006), and drug users (Jackson & Simon, 2006). Much research has focused on negative outcomes. However, more recently a strengths-based approach has been utilised to draw upon the experiences of young people in care (Martin & Jackson, 2002; Dearden, 2004). In relation to educational progress, key studies have highlighted the importance of relationships, support, encouragement, the provision of resources, and achievements.
The qualitative research elicited the views of six young people in foster care and three young people in residential care, regarding their positive educational experiences. Interviews were semi-structured and took a solution-focused approach (de Shazer, 1985). Findings are largely consistent with the existing literature, with the following main themes identified: 1. achievements; 2. support; 3. relationships; 4. approach to learning; 5. identity; 6. self-efficacy; and 7. the impact of care.
The research findings raise challenging issues regarding current service delivery, suggesting that, in addition to the provision of ongoing relationships and various types of support, young people in care will benefit from opportunities to face challenges and involvement in decision-making. These opportunities were related to the development of positive self-perceptions, which in turn is associated with increased resilience. The implications of these findings are discussed in relation to the profession of educational psychology, and in terms of wider service delivery and research implications.

KeywordsChildren looked-after; Foster care; Thematic analysis
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)
Publication dates
PrintMay 2012
Publication process dates
Deposited09 Apr 2013
Publisher's version
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