Second Chance Stories: Children and Families' Journey from School Exclusion to Therapeutic Alternative Provision

Prof Doc Thesis

Mullarkey, S. 2019. Second Chance Stories: Children and Families' Journey from School Exclusion to Therapeutic Alternative Provision. Prof Doc Thesis University of East London School of Psychology
AuthorsMullarkey, S.
TypeProf Doc Thesis

A child is a ‘relational’ being, formed through their relationships with significant others: parents, siblings, teachers and peers. A child’s behaviour in school is correspondingly influenced by multiple factors, some of which are external to the school environment. This is illustrated in the demographics of children and young people (CYP) most likely to be excluded from school, who often have multiple vulnerability factors in their home life (Gill, 2017). Despite the acknowledgment of systemic factors within numerous government policies, much of the research on therapeutic interventions for excluded children in Alternative Provision (AP) focuses on behavioural and psychodynamic interventions. Alternatively, this qualitative study is based on a systemic multi-family therapeutic Alternative Provision (AP) exploring children and families’ perspectives of school exclusion and integration into this AP.
A process relational ontological approach (Brown & Stenner, 2009) and critical realist epistemology underpin this study. CYP and families undertook semi-structured interviews and CYP also completed a drawing exercise. A thematic analysis of the data identified four themes characterising the journey from school exclusion to AP: ‘System Breakdown’, ‘System Integration’, ‘System Transformation’ and ‘Cracks in the System’. It is argued that school exclusion affects the whole of the child’s world, leading also to the exclusion of other family members from many different systems. Furthermore, this study argues that the model of the school, which seeks to include and work with all excluded parts of the child’s system, is positively transformative.
The findings of this study suggest that systemic approaches for CYP excluded from school provide an important and valuable contribution to clinical practice, highlighting the need for clinical psychologists to develop clinical and theoretical frameworks that engage more fully with school exclusion as a systemic issue. It is further argued that future research should explore how interventions can attend to broader macro systemic factors at play in school exclusion for example, the family’s economic and employment circumstances.

PublisherUniversity of East London
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OnlineAug 2019
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Deposited22 Jan 2020
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License: CC BY-NC-ND 4.0
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