A narrative inquiry into the lived experience of persistent absenteeism among children who have since returned to mainstream school, and the meaning they make of their experiences.

Prof Doc Thesis


Barron Williams, H. 2021. A narrative inquiry into the lived experience of persistent absenteeism among children who have since returned to mainstream school, and the meaning they make of their experiences. Prof Doc Thesis University of East London School of Psychology https://doi.org/10.15123/uel.8q130
AuthorsBarron Williams, H.
TypeProf Doc Thesis
Abstract

Persistent Absence (missing at least 10% of school over a term) affects 1 in 10 young people in England, with a greater weighting towards those in marginalised communities. It has long-term negative academic, economic, social and psychological outcomes for young people, their families and communities.

This study explores the views of three young people in London who have returned to mainstream secondary school after a period of Persistent Absence. It used a Narrative Inquiry qualitative design to analyse and share their stories and experiences. Data was gathered through unstructured interviews with some narrative prompts, and then analysed according to a Narrative Oriented Inquiry model. This first involved dividing texts into two parts: Sjuzet (the way in which the story is told)and Fabula (the sequence of relayed events). A second holistic stage of analysis was employed to answer the question “what story is the participant trying to tell?” and to draw out any common themes across the three.

The findings illustrate how lonely and overwhelming secondary school can be, and how transition is a deeply difficult time for some young people, with absence being used perhaps as a coping mechanism. They also show the impressive perseverance and effort that these three young people put in to return and how relationships, a sense of agency and self-worth are crucial to their success.

Applied to the theories of Second Wave Positive Psychology, the narratives help formulate a tentative model of how young people might experience Persistent Absence as a traumatic event, and move through it to a place of growth, by drawing on the good and the bad elements of their realities. Coming from an ecosystemic
and interpretive-constructivist background, the study highlights how important the people and communities around young people are in providing the right conditions for resilience and growth. The thesis concludes by discussing the implications of the
findings for future research and Educational Psychology practice.

Keywordspersistent absence; mainstream; narrative; second wave positive psychology
Year2021
PublisherUniversity of East London
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)https://doi.org/10.15123/uel.8q130
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Publication dates
Online20 Dec 2021
Publication process dates
Deposited17 Dec 2021
Submitted15 Nov 2021
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