Starting Secondary School: The Experiences of Adopted Young People and Their Parents

Prof Doc Thesis

Fayers, A. 2020. Starting Secondary School: The Experiences of Adopted Young People and Their Parents. Prof Doc Thesis University of East London School of Psychology
AuthorsFayers, A.
TypeProf Doc Thesis

Background: It is well established that, until recently, the educational needs of adopted and permanently placed young people have historically been ignored in both research and in national legislation. A large percentage of these individuals will have faced adverse early childhood experiences which can impact on their social and emotional development and engagement with learning. Whilst the transition to secondary school is considered a challenging time for all children and young people, this experience has the potential to be increasingly challenging for adopted young people owing to their possible social, emotional and academic difficulties. Although much research has been carried out concerning adopted pupils in education, the views and perspectives of adopted young people are often missing.
Current research: This small scale qualitative study utilised elements of a participatory design. Adopted young people in Year 9 of mainstream secondary school were involved in key decisions regarding the research question and data collection techniques. Semi-structured interviews were then conducted with three adopted young people in Year 7 of mainstream secondary school and two adoptive parents to gather data on their experiences of starting secondary education. Transcripts were analysed using interpretative phenomenological analysis.
Key findings and implications: Key themes which arose across Year 7 and parent participants included ‘Anxiety’, ‘Managing the Self’, ‘Attachment’ and ‘Adoptive Identity’ with the individual accounts being distinctive and subjective as a result of individual experiences. The study provides key implications for secondary schools to develop cultures which recognise and understand the possible needs of adopted young people as well as implement proactive forms of support. The importance of building positive relationships between the home and school systems is also implicated. Owing to their role across both primary and secondary schools as well as with wider professional and community groups, Educational Psychologists are well-placed to enhance the support provided for adoptive families when beginning secondary education.

PublisherUniversity of East London
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Online29 Sep 2020
Publication process dates
SubmittedApr 2020
Deposited29 Sep 2020
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License: CC BY-NC-ND 4.0
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