03 October 2018
Author: Loxley Simmonds, Tavistock and Portman NHS trust educational psychology training course
The educational attainment of Looked After Children (LAC), particularly in relation to their non-looked after peers, remain poor. The present study sought to further understand the contextual factors and individual mechanisms which act to support or hinder the educational progress of LAC at Key Stage 4.
The study operated within a Critical Realist approach and sought the experiences of both LAC and professionals who work to support LAC. In total, eight participants took part in the study. Semi-structured interviews were completed with two LAC participants and six professionals. Both LAC participants were 17 years old and reflected on their experiences of Key Stage 4.
Professionals included Virtual School Officers (VSO), a social worker and a Designated Teacher for LAC (DT). The current study utilised Grounded Theory Methodology (Corbin & Strauss, 2008) which allowed the researcher to develop a conceptual understanding of the observed data resulting in an overarching theoretical scheme. The researcher labelled this scheme 'Availability to Engage in Learning' (AEL).
The researcher further identified the facilitative and inhibitive contexts and mechanisms which influence AEL. These were then placed in Context Mechanism Outcome models (Pawson & Tilley, 1997) to visually represent the ways in which they impact the educational progress of LAC. Finally, the implications of the findings with regards to the field of Educational Psychology are considered.