An investigation into the way education welfare officers understand and negotiate non-school attendance.


Twineham, John 2000. An investigation into the way education welfare officers understand and negotiate non-school attendance. Thesis University of East London
AuthorsTwineham, John

This thesis explores the activities of education welfare officers (EWOs): local education
authority employees whose work includes the investigation of pupil absence from school.
EWOs have rarely been the subject of research or analysis, as writers have tended to see
them as self-evident functionaries. Given the paucity of the existing literature, it was
necessary to construct a research programme that would seek to describe and understand the
social relationships and processes that the EWOs were engaged in and attempt to develop
new frameworks and categories of analysis. To this end, a grounded qualitative research
programme was pgrsued. The research data for this study was generated by a series of semistructured,
in depth interviews with EWOs in three different local authorities. These
interviews focused on a number of selected examples from the EWOs workloads that were
discussed in detail and the case files analysed. As well as generating a grounded analysis,
this data was then used as the basis for a series of case studies that were interrogated
through the framework of a Foucauldian analysis of disciplinary power. The research
programme produced a number of specific insights into the work of the EWO that had been
absent or understated by previous analysts and writers. It also showed how the uses of care
and control, as the defining analytical and antithetical categories in previous analyses, was
unhelpful and at times misleading. Through a careful and detailed analysis of the EWOs
work, the thesis shows how their activity is better understood in terms of processes of
normalisation where strategies are deployed that utilise relations of disciplinary power as
described by Foucault in Discipline and Punish. The way in which this work contributes to
the development of Foucault's analysis of disciplinary society and the complications of
supervisory mechanisms is discussed. However, the main achievement of this thesis is to
show how the research programme led to the production of a framework for the analysis of
the activities of EWOs that is able to engage effectively with questions that had apparently
left previous writers baffled.

Keywordseducation welfare officers (EWOs); pupil absence; truancy; Inner London Education Authority (ILEA)
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Deposited10 May 2011
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This thesis supplied via ROAR to UEL-registered users is protected by copyright and other intellectual property rights, and duplication of any part of the material is not permitted, except for your personal use for the purposes of non-commercial research and private study in electronic or print form. You must obtain permission from the copyright-holder for any other use. Electronic or print copies may not be offered, for sale or otherwise, to anyone. No quotation from the thesis may be published without proper acknowledgement.

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