Thomas, Ian Andres
An evaluation of provision in a school designated as catering for pupils categorised as having 'emotional and behavioural difficulties' in the light of the perspectives and expectations of its various stakeholders.
The Open University.
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Line End is an 11-16 day school for pupils categorised as having emotional and behavioural difficulties (EBD). It is maintained by Farside Local Education Authority, and provides secondary education for pupils who are statemented as having emotional and behavioural difficulties. Some have additional learning difficulties, this assessment being based on reading ages that are considerably lower than their chronological ages, and scores in KS2 SATs that are below National averages. All referrals come through the local authority’s special educational needs department; invariably, the pupils who are placed at Line End either transfer from the EBD primary unit, or are those who have been excluded from mainstream secondary schools within the borough. The aim of the study is to establish the extent to which Line End is felt to be effective by its various stakeholders; and in establishing this position, it is first important to elicit the criteria by which the various stakeholders judge the school to be effective. The first phase of the study, therefore, is aimed at eliciting these stakeholder criteria, whilst the second phase focuses on the extent to which the school is perceived to be effective in its various areas of provision, based on these very criteria. A subsequent analysis of findings seeks to examine stakeholder perspectives, and the extent to which there is congruence and/or divergence of perspective amongst and between stakeholders might create conflict or tensions between and amongst stakeholders. Findings from the first phase of the study suggest that there is broad agreement amongst stakeholders about what should constitute effective provision for Line End pupils: addressing both academic and emotional/behavioural needs effectively, providing a safe and positive environment in which to make such provision, and providing opportunities for the reintegration of pupils to mainstream where appropriate and practicable. These three areas reflect the three major aims of the school as outlined in the staff handbook, and alongside these as key indicators of quality, stakeholders included relationships between home and school, and the management/organisation of the school -the extent to which it was strategically or ‘crisis’ managed. Findings from the second phase of the research suggested that the school was perceived to be effective by virtually all of its stakeholders - in some areas for some of the time. There were differences of perspective within stakeholder groups, and sometimes differences of emphasis between stakeholder groups. These differences did not necessarily lead to tension, as it was possible for differing perspectives to co-exist; the tensions became evident when perspectives conflicted rather than co-existed, as the group or individual who held the greatest power would invariably have its way in translating its perspective into policy and practice
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