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Title: ‘Parents as Partners’: Perspectives on the Important Elements of Family-School Partnerships for Children with Special Educational Needs and/or Disabilities
Authors: Holmes, Ryan James
Issue Date: 2022
Publisher: Newcastle University
Abstract: Following the Warnock Report into the education of children deemed to have Special Educational Needs or Disabilities (SEND) in 1978, in which the phrase “Parents as Partners” was termed and highlighted as a concept, there has been increased focus on how schools engage parents and caregivers in their children’s education. Partnerships are forwarded as the ideal, involving reciprocal interactions characterised by collaboration and shared ownership. These partnerships can play an important role to improve educational experiences and outcomes, as well as presenting a vehicle for inclusion and social justice. However, a sustained lack of progress towards establishing effective partnerships is highlighted, and research exploring specifically what comprises them in practice is limited. This thesis aims to foreground the perspectives of education professionals in schools and parents of children with SEND regarding the elements of effective partnership. The systematic literature review in Chapter 1 resulted in five papers regarding perspectives on partnerships being selected and analysed using a meta ethnographic method. This led to a tentative interpretation and model of parent school partnerships encapsulating the key concepts of ‘Effective Communication and Understanding’, ‘Mutual Power and Agency’, ‘Mutual Trust’, and ‘Responsibility, Accountability, and Ethos’. This is discussed in terms of previous literature and its implications for practice. Chapter 2 bridges the review and the empirical research, exploring my personal, philosophical, and methodological positions and their impact on the research, as well as providing an overview of ethical considerations. The empirical research reported in Chapter 3 involved semi-structured interviews with three parents of children who receive SEND support and four professionals working in mainstream primary schools in Northeast England regarding their experiences of partnership. Data were analysed using Template Analysis, leading to an interpretation of how partnerships are developed and maintained. Patterns and subtleties within the data are explored with reference to case examples and previous literature. A further-developed model is presented, along with implications for professional practice in schools and for Educational Psychologists. Four main concepts are hypothesised to underpin effective partnerships, each of which, including the subthemes within, are discussed: ‘Communication’, ‘Eco-Systemic Factors’, ‘Professional Skills’, and ‘Working “with”, not “doing to”’. The research concludes that a focus on these factors can enhance effective, socially just partnerships, and that Educational Psychologists may be able to contribute to supporting professionals and families in this area. Chapter 4 recounts my research journey and comprises a reflective commentary on the decisions made, challenges overcome, and the skills I have developed. It summarizes the implications of the research and of the journey for education professionals and for me as a practitioner and researcher. Alternative courses of action are considered, along with avenues for future research.
Description: D. App. Ed. Psy. Thesis
Appears in Collections:School of Education, Communication and Language Sciences

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