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Title: An exploration of meetings between parents and multiple professionals through bounded meta-study and collaborative action research
Authors: Russell, Jade
Issue Date: 2020
Publisher: Newcastle University
Abstract: Parents of children who are identified as having special educational needs and/or disabilities (SEND) are likely to experience relationships with numerous professionals, across disciplines and agencies. Parental participation in decision making is emphasised within UK SEND policy, as well as the importance of partnerships between parents and professionals. Meetings are a key feature in decision-making processes, where it is anticipated that all parties will collaborate to agree plans and provision for the child. This project presents a critical stance toward the discourses of collaboration and partnership between parents and multiple professionals, recognising the potential difficulties in actualising these concepts in practice. Meetings can act as a bounded context in which to explore relationships between parents and multiple professionals. Despite their prevalence in processes for children identified with SEND, meetings between parents and professionals appear to be an under-researched phenomenon in the UK. This project therefore seeks to contribute to literature regarding the practice of meetings and parent-professional collaboration. This thesis is comprised of a systematic literature review and empirical study; a further chapter is presented to bridge these two papers and provide insight into decision making within the research process. Chapter one reports a systematic literature review that sought to address the question: what are parents’ experiences of working with multiple professionals during review meetings for their children identified with SEND? A bounded meta-study methodology was employed to analyse the data, methods and theoretical assumptions of five papers to construct new understandings in relation to the review question. This synthesis suggests that the unique role of the parent and their connection to the child is a key feature that permeates parental experiences of working with multiple professionals. It is proposed that meetings can be understood as professional spaces that parents enter by the nature of their role. When entering this professional space of meetings, parents’ feelings regarding how much they are valued by the team are important to their experience, in addition to their active participation being facilitated. The review offers potential implications of these findings for practice and research. The empirical research element of this thesis aimed to be transformative in its nature and move beyond exploring experiences of meetings to actively improving practice. Chapter Three reports a collaborative action research project undertaken with a headteacher of a primary school to explore the practice of meetings between parents and multiple professionals. The co-researcher and I chose to engage in an inquiry that we hoped would enhance our understandings and encourage reflection on our own practices. This inquiry took the form of a case study of a single meeting, where a parent, SEND co-ordinator, educational psychologist and external specialist teacher met to agree a request for the statutory assessment of a young person’s SEND needs. We chose to explore the concept of role identity amongst the meeting participants by interviewing them about their perception of their own role and that of others. We also explored how roles were constructed and how participants might be positioned through interactions by video recording the meeting. The findings from the case study were used as catalysts for discussion between the co-researcher and I. From this rich discussion, several outcomes were identified for future practice. These were concerned with how meeting facilitators might create a sense of team; foster genuine connection, understand parents’ perspectives and encourage the development of professional skills. The study demonstrates how collaborative action research processes can be useful in the development of professional learning and reflection. Key learnings from the research process are discussed.
Description: PhD Thesis
Appears in Collections:School of Education, Communication and Language Sciences

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