An investigation into how girls identified as having Social, Emotional and Behavioural Difficulties and staff of one specialist education provision feel pupil participation in decision making and planning regarding their needs can best be facilitated

  • Julie Martin

Student thesis: Doctor of Educational and Child Psychology


The Children and Families Act 2014 (DfE, 2014) makes clear that local authorities (LAs) and schools must have regard to: the views, wishes and feelings of the child or young person (CYP) with special educational needs (SEN); and highlights the importance of CYP participating as fully as possible in decisions, and of being provided with the information and support necessary to enable participation in those decisions. CYP with SEN in the form of social, emotional and behavioural difficulties (SEBDs) continue to be an under researched and underrepresented voice. The views of girls with SEBDs are particularly diminished as, in addition to the barriers faced by CYP with SEBDs, they face further obstacles relating to gender and how this influences perceptions of SEBDs.This thesis aimed to engage with a Pupil Referral Unit (PRU) in action research to facilitate development into a special provision for girls with SEDBs by exploring the views of pupils, specifically girls, and staff working with them regarding how pupil participation in decision making and planning regarding their needs can best be facilitated. A single embedded case study design was used within an appreciative inquiry (AI) framework to explore the participation of girls with SEBDs in a PRU in decision making regarding their needs.Participants included five staff members from the PRU and four girls identified as having SEBDs. Data was collected through semi structured interviews, photographs and documentation and analysed using thematic and content analysis. The key themes identified were: Successful Participation Practices; The influence of gender; Pupil Voice; The influence of CYP's views; Understanding of the needs of CYP with SEBD; Relationships; Ethos of the setting and Moving participation forward. Furthermore, it was found that the needs of girls with SEBDs were perceived to be different within their gender group as well as between girls and boys with SEBDs. Findings were explored and future actions agreed and reviewed in workshops with key stakeholders and the researcher.The findings contribute to the knowledge base regarding how participation is conceptualised by girls with SEBDs and staff supporting them in one specialist provision. The knowledge contributed evidences that there is a role for Educational Psychologists (EPs) in the facilitation of pupil voice in order to identify how pupil participation in decision making and planning regarding their needs can be best accelerated in order to support their engagement. Additionally, AI appears to have been an effective method for this participatory research. Implications for EP practice and areas for future research are also considered.
Date of Award31 Dec 2015
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • The University of Manchester
SupervisorCatherine Kelly (Supervisor) & Caroline Bond (Supervisor)

Cite this