A socio-cultural activity theory analysis of inter-agency working between educational psychologists and education welfare officers in relation to complex extended school non-attendance (CESN-A) with implications for improved service delivery

Herriotts-Smith, Stephanie Sue (2013). A socio-cultural activity theory analysis of inter-agency working between educational psychologists and education welfare officers in relation to complex extended school non-attendance (CESN-A) with implications for improved service delivery. University of Birmingham. Ap.Ed.&ChildPsy.D.

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Abstract

Successive governments have afforded high priority to improving school attendance (DfE, 2012). However, inter-agency collaboration to address non-attendance has been hindered by disparity in the literature and among practitioners regarding terminology, definitions, assessment and intervention practices (Kearney, 2008). The current research offers ‘Complex Extended School Non-Attendance’ (CESN-A) as a broader conceptualisation of the issue and seeks to explore and analyse inter-agency working between Educational Psychologists (EPs) and Education Welfare Officers (EWOs) regarding supporting pupils who experience CESN-A.

The research adopts case study design and offers a contextualised account within one Local Authority (LA) that has embraced multi-agency working and where EPs and EWOs work together in multi-agency support teams (MASTs). Activity theory (Engeström, 1987) is employed as a theoretical framework and methodology for: examining the socio-cultural processes that mediate the current models of working; analysing and comparing EP and EWO activity systems; surfacing contradictions and proposing new ways of working. The research utilises semi-structured interviews and Developmental Work Research (DWR) to explore the professional learning required to improve inter-agency collaboration.

The findings illustrate the multi-layered nature of inter-agency working. Suggested improvements include fostering shared understanding, clarifying role demarcations, establishing structures for collaborative problem-solving and building capacity in schools regarding both understanding the complexities of CESN-A and developing strategies which support attendance. Finally, the research illuminates the value of utilising socio-cultural activity theory as a tool for understanding, analysing and exploring practice and promoting professional learning to facilitate organisational change and ultimately improve service delivery.

Type of Work: Thesis (Doctorates > Ap.Ed.&ChildPsy.D.)
Award Type: Doctorates > Ap.Ed.&ChildPsy.D.
Supervisor(s):
Supervisor(s)EmailORCID
Soan, ColletteUNSPECIFIEDUNSPECIFIED
Leadbetter, JaneUNSPECIFIEDUNSPECIFIED
Licence:
College/Faculty: Colleges (2008 onwards) > College of Social Sciences
School or Department: School of Education
Funders: None/not applicable
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
L Education > LC Special aspects of education
URI: http://etheses.bham.ac.uk/id/eprint/4577

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