An exploration of educational psychologists’ views of the role of spirituality in the assessment of young people

Pugh, Hannah (2022). An exploration of educational psychologists’ views of the role of spirituality in the assessment of young people. University of Birmingham. Ap.Ed.&ChildPsy.D.

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Spirituality has had a long history in UK educational legislation. It was cited in the 1944 Education Act as one of the main reasons for statutory education. The view of spirituality in this thesis, which was informed by UK research into the area of children’s spirituality, was that it was a sense of purpose and meaning in life which may or may not incorporate a religious view.

Educational psychologists (EPs) carry out many functions within the UK educational system which include: the assessment of children; and consultation with key adults around the children, such as families and schoolteachers. One aim that the UK EP profession held as a value was to capture a holistic picture of the child. However, Gersch et al. (2008) and Ruddock and Cameron (2010) argued that spirituality was often a neglected area in EP practice and that without the incorporation of spirituality into EP assessments the whole view of the child was not captured.

In the early 1990s there was a children’s spirituality project set up in the UK. This involved speaking with children about their views of their spirituality. Research from this project formed a “starting point” (Hay and Nye, 1996) in which children’s spirituality could be understood: Hay and Nye (1996) introduced a conceptual map which consisted of nine subconcepts of how children experienced spirituality.

Bringing together UK research on children’s spirituality together with UK educational documents, questions were asked to nine UK EPs in individual semi-structed interviews to investigate what their understanding of spirituality was with regards to EP practice and how useful the conceptual map (Hay and Nye, 1996) was to their professional work. Participants were recruited using a self-selecting method within one geographical area of the UK and took ii part in individual interviews held online during August 2020. The results were analysed using thematic analysis (Braun and Clarke, 2006).

It was concluded that EPs could utilise the conceptual map (Hay and Nye, 1996) to have shared discussions on spirituality and that this was a tool they could use across EP functions. However, the limitations of this thesis were acknowledged in that the conceptual map could not be taken forward as a completed framework because EPs felt that it did not contain age relevant examples across the age ranges they supported. Yet, there were many areas for future research suggested: One way forward was to form a working group whose suggested aims were to further the empirical base of the conceptual map (Hay and Nye, 1996), to raise awareness of spirituality with UK education legislation and guidance; and to make explicit the links between spirituality and those psychological theories and interventions which had a spirituality basis.

Type of Work: Thesis (Doctorates > Ap.Ed.&ChildPsy.D.)
Award Type: Doctorates > Ap.Ed.&ChildPsy.D.
Licence: All rights reserved All rights reserved
College/Faculty: Colleges (2008 onwards) > College of Social Sciences
School or Department: School of Education, Department of Disability, Inclusion and Special Needs
Funders: None/not applicable
Subjects: L Education > L Education (General)


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