Exploring and challenging perfectionism in four high-achieving UK secondary schools
Thorley, Dawn Michelle
Thesis or dissertation
University of Exeter
Reason for embargo
Intention to publish.
Perfectionism research is relatively sparse, particularly relating to UK secondary school students. International literature links perfectionism with both positive and negative outcomes in adulthood, including achievement and mental health difficulties. The aims of this study were both exploratory and theoretical; to explore the perspectives of students, teachers and parents in authorities in the South-West and North-West of England regarding the construct of perfectionism, to contribute to the knowledge on perfectionism in education (Phase One), and to investigate the role of schools and the educational psychologist (EP) in supporting students high in perfectionism through collaboration with students, parents, teachers, external professionals, EPs and the use of psychological theory to develop ‘best-practice’ guidance for schools and families (Phase Two). Semi-structured interviews using personal construct psychology and projective techniques were carried out with 32 participants. Of these, 17 were students, 6 teachers and 9 parents from a boys’ independent grammar school, girls’ local authority grammar school, ‘outstanding’ (Ofsted) comprehensive school and ‘outstanding’ (Ofsted) academy. Analysis of the interviews revealed significant gaps in participant knowledge regarding perfectionism (as based on the existing literature), particularly relating to its possible function and associated risks. Participants also held beliefs which are likely to contribute to the reinforcement of perfectionism in students.
DEdPsy in Educational, Child and Community Psychology