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Title: What is school like? An exploration of the experiences of school from the perspectives of adoptive parents and adopted children
Authors: Bragg, Ania
Issue Date: 2020
Publisher: Newcastle University
Abstract: Most adopted children in the UK today are adopted from Local Authority (LA) care having been removed from their birth families due to trauma, abuse, loss and neglect. The impact of the early adversities is likely to affect the child’s ability to access education. It is important that educational professionals are aware of the potential long-term impact of early adversities on adopted children, and adapt their approach to supporting them. This thesis explores the education of adopted children. It is comprised of three chapters: a systematic literature review, a bridging document and a piece of empirical research. The systematic literature review focuses on adoptive parents’ experiences of their child’s school. A meta-ethnography was conducted to synthesise five qualitative papers. A model was developed to express the synthesis suggesting sharing information and knowledge and understanding of adoption and pre-adoption experiences facilitated trust between school staff and adoptive parents, and ensured the child’s unique needs were met in the classroom. This also enabled adoption to be made salient within the school curriculum. Furthermore, a greater understanding and acknowledgement of the different types of adoptive families enabled diversity to be discussed in lessons, thus supporting the adopted child to feel included in school and the wider school community. The bridging document offers commentary on the literature review and the development of the empirical research and discusses my philosophical position, methodological decisions and ethical considerations of the empirical research. The empirical research aimed to fill the gap in the area of researching educational experiences from the perspective of adopted children. Semi-structured interviews were carried out with three secondary school aged adopted children. Interviews were transcribed and analysed using Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis in order to capture the lived experiences of the participants. Three superordinate themes were identified: Relationships, Adoptive Status and Inclusion. These superordinate themes are discussed in consideration of the findings of the Systematic Literature Review and wider research. The findings of this research reflect wider research highlighting the importance of relationships with staff and peers in addition to the child’s adoptive status to their sense of self and identity, including the importance of having agency over the disclosure of their adoptive status. These findings have relevance to Educational Psychologists (EPs) who can support schools to facilitate relationship development, highlighting relational approaches and the positive impact these can have on children’s sense of belonging in school. It is important to raise the profile of adoption in educational psychology research. To date, very little has been written about the role of the EP in relation to adopted children and their experiences of school, and this piece of research adds to this gap in the field.
Description: D. App. Ed. Psy. Thesis.
Appears in Collections:School of Education, Communication and Language Sciences

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