School belonging: listening to the voices of secondary school students who have undergone managed moves

  • Holly Craggs

Student thesis: Doctor of Educational and Child Psychology


A sense of school belonging has a powerful effect on students' emotional, motivational and academic functioning. This phenomenological research synthesized qualitative literature presenting pupil voice on school belonging, investigated how secondary school-aged students who have undergone a 'managed move' experience belonging, and sought their views on the role stakeholders might play in promoting school belonging for managed move students. The author discusses policy and practice implications and outlines a dissemination strategy.The first paper is an interpretative meta-synthesis involving a process of reciprocal translation and synthesis of seven qualitative studies was used to examine secondary school students' experiences of school belonging. The second paper is an empirical study investigating how secondary school students who have undergone a managed move experience school belonging, and what they feel would promote a sense of school belonging for other managed move students. This research employed purposive sampling, an interpretative case study design and semi-structured phenomenological interviews. Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis (IPA) was used to analyse data.The meta-synthesis (Paper 1) generated four main concepts: school belonging and intersubjectivity; school belonging and knowledge, understanding and acceptance of individual identity; school belonging and experiences of in-group membership and school belonging and safety/security, and the 'higher-order concept' of school belonging as 'feeling safe to be yourself in and through relationships with others in the school setting'. Superordinate themes identified in the empirical study (Paper 2) were 'making friends and feeling safe'; 'feeling known, understood and accepted as a person in receiver school'; 'identification of and support for SEN/D' and 'supportive/unsupportive school practices/protocols'. Findings indicated that a sense of school belonging for these students resulted from positive social relationships with peers and an attendant sense of safety, security and acceptance. Managed move participants expressed the desirability but also the perceived difficulty of forging relationships in a new school and acknowledged the value of sensitive and subtle support.
Date of Award31 Dec 2016
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • The University of Manchester
SupervisorCatherine Kelly (Supervisor) & Catharine Atkinson (Supervisor)


  • Belonging, managed moves, pupil voice, connectedness, relatedness, transition, interpretative phenomenological analysis

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