• Helen Wyton

Student thesis: Phd


Over the past 10 years there has been increasing awareness and concern that a significant number of young people either in, or deemed to be at risk of being in, the criminal justice system have identified or unidentified special educational needs. Youth offending teams were set up to address young people's offending behaviour but knowledge among professionals working in the teams of teaching and learning and, more specifically, about special educational needs is not a necessary prerequisite for gaining employment. There is therefore a potential role for educational psychologists to support youth offending workers so that they can take account of and respond to the special educational needs of the young people for whom they are responsible.This research was divided into two phases and used an action research methodology in order to explore the development of the role of an Educational Psychology Service within a Youth Offending Team (YOT). Phase 1 explored the views of the YOTs using three focus groups on issues relating to special educational needs and their views on if, and how, educational psychologists (EPs) could support them in their delivery of services to young people. Although views differed across different teams there was a general perception that overall the knowledge base in relation to SEN within the service was limited. Other key themes related to relationships with schools and other professionals as well as issues around confidence and working with conflicting time scales.Potential areas of work were identified by the three focus groups and, in particular, the usefulness of being able to have direct access to an EP. Consultation was chosen as model of service delivery as, not only is this a growing model of service delivery for EPs, it also met the YOT's request for direct access in that there was no threshold that needed to be met before they could access the service. Phase 2 of the study therefore consisted of the implementation and evaluation of a pilot consultation service.In phase 2 seven consultations with YOT staff took place which focused on how they could develop their work with individual children for whom they were responsible. Findings indicated that the presenting difficulties experienced by the young people varied as did the 'type' and 'degree' of their special educational needs. In relation to the content of the consultations, the emphasis was often on 'increasing engagement' by the young person in the work they had to do. Interestingly the range of difficulties experienced by the young people was no different from those raised by schools in their regular work with EPs. Although the sample was small, all of the consultees perceived positive outcomes to the consultations. However, potential barriers were also identified in relation to the continuation of the service.
Date of Award1 Aug 2013
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • The University of Manchester
SupervisorPeter Farrell (Supervisor) & Catharine Atkinson (Supervisor)


  • Educational Psychogist
  • Youth Offending Team

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