Adoptive Parents’ Home-School Partnerships: An Exploration of the Partnership Experiences of Parents and School Staff with a Focus on Barriers, Facilitators and Developing Partnership Practices.
Date: 16 September 2019
University of Exeter
Doctor of Educational Psychology in Educational, Child and Community Psychology.
It has been increasingly established in literature that the educational outcomes for adopted children and young people are comparatively low across a range of measures, when compared to non-adopted children (Gore-Langton, 2017). Indeed, the educational outcomes of this group remain a priority at government level, as evident in a range ...
It has been increasingly established in literature that the educational outcomes for adopted children and young people are comparatively low across a range of measures, when compared to non-adopted children (Gore-Langton, 2017). Indeed, the educational outcomes of this group remain a priority at government level, as evident in a range of recent policies (for example pupil premium funding, designated teacher for previously looked after children). Literature highlights that adoptive parents encounter many challenges in their experiences with schools (e.g. a lack of staff understanding of adoption; communication; information sharing; ostracism) often leading to them becoming “battle weary” (Phillips, 2007). However, there is little literature that details the experiences of home-school partnership with adoptive families (Goldberg & Smith, 2014). With Parent-school partnership heavily cited in educational literature as essential to educational success (Hattie, 2008), such research with adoptive families is arguably of importance. The study presented here employs a qualitative, two phase research design. In phase one, semi-structured interviews were conducted with five adoptive parents and five teachers. These interviews sought to elicit the individuals’ experiences of partnership, with a particular focus upon (i) how parents related their experiences to Hart’s Ladder (1997) model of partnership; and (ii) the factors which influence partnership working (either as barriers or facilitators). In phase two, semi-structured interviews and a card-sort design were used with a sample of five SENCos. This phase explored how SENCos conceptualised the needs of adoptive parents (in comparison with the experiences parents reported in phase one), and how SENCos viewed that partnership practices with adoptive families could be improved. The data was analysed using thematic analysis in order to address the research questions. The findings highlighted that (i) parents were able to relate their partnership experience to Hart’s Ladder (1997) model; (ii) a variety of factors influencing partnership were established and there was some commonality between factors identified by parents and those identified by school staff. In phase two, the findings highlighted that (i) whilst SENCos were aware of many factors identified by parents, they tended not to anticipate more affective and perception-based factors; and (ii) that SENCos identified a variety of ways in which partnership could be improved with adoptive parents (through development at a school, broader professional and local authority level). Throughout both phases the overarching themes of a lack of understanding of adoption and a need to broaden the partnership were evident. The findings offer insight and thematic models to understand a sparsely researched area; several implications for EP practice are also highlighted and discussed.
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