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Consequences of Availability of 'extended' Pupil Welfare interventions: Effects on School Performance
University West, Department of Social and Behavioural Studies, Division of Social Pedagogy and Sociology. (BUV)ORCID iD: 0000-0002-4538-6555
University West, Department of Social and Behavioural Studies, Division of Psychology and Organisation Studies. (BUV)ORCID iD: 0000-0003-3328-6538
2014 (English)Conference paper, Oral presentation with published abstract (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Children living in families with alcohol or drug misuse, violence or a parent's psychiatric illness are commonly regarded as a group at risk of developing social and health problems, but also at risk of failing in school. In Sweden social services have the responsibility to intervene to change the situation for such children (National Board of Health and Welfare, 2013). Teachers, school social workers and other relevant staff all have important roles to play in identifying pupils within this target group (Backlund, 2007). However research demonstrates that this process can be prolonged. Nor is it unusual that parents and/or pupils are unwilling to accept support until the home situation becomes very serious and/or where the pupil's school achievements have deteriorated in a serious way (SOU 2010).This presentation offers an evaluation of an ongoing project 'Extended In-Depth Pupil Welfare' (2013–2015) funded by the Swedish Public Health Agency and which is one of sixteen projects aimed at children and young people within this target group in the national program 'Developing New Evidenced Methods for Prevention and Interventions'. The 'Extended In-Depth Pupil Welfare' project is based on the hypothesis that, by making established evidence-proven intervention methods normally offered by social services in social service settings available for pupils and their parents in a school setting, children and parents may be more willing to accept/or seek support at an earlier stage than had the interventions been available through normal social services channels. The research questions are: 'Does availability influence willingness to seek and accept support?', and 'In what way does this support influence school performance?'In recent decades a great deal of attention has been directed to the creation and implementation of effective interventions designed to adress the needs of pupils at risk of failing academically (Allen-Meares, Montgomery & Kim, 2013; Dube & Orpinas, 2009). Interventions operate at a number of levels. While Tier 1 interventions are at the whole school level, Tier 2 interventions address specific groups and individuals (Allen-Meares et al., 2013). In Sweden a multitude of collaborative joint ventures by social services and schools at both tiers have emerged in recent years (SOU, 2010). A national evaluation of a government sponsored program comprising more than one hundred collaborative projects revealed that collaboration is in great need of development. Further, a majority of teachers report that collaboration with social services, child psychiatry, the police and other agencies is, in different ways, unsatisfactory (Danermark, Englund & Germundsson, 2010). From this point of departure the 'Extended In-Depth Pupil Welfare' project is based on the assumption that if the school is the sole stakeholder in providing support interventions, actions can be more effectively directed in ways that best fit the school's organization and impact most directly on pupils' school achievement. For example, research demonstrates that when social services and schools are both stakeholders, the process of identifying and supporting pupils in need is not only unnecessarily time-consuming, but also less effective (Bolin 2011).Focusing on an interprofessional staff group comprising two teachers and two social workers based on-site in a medium sized primary/secondary school, and comparing pupils' and parents' perceptions of the availability of pupil welfare support with similar parental/pupil perceptions at another school used as a control, the objectives of this research is to theoretically analyse and critically evaluate the impact on school performance of on-site extended pupil welfare support. In this presentation focus is directed to findings emerging from interview data with pupils at the intervention school, and on their perceptions of the impact that the work of the interprofessional support team has had on their approaches to school work.Methodology, Methods, Research Instruments or Sources UsedIn addition to assessing pupils' achievement (encapsulated in subject grades) the study also focuses on the perception the pupils have of the impact on school performance of on-site social welfare support, and it is these findings that are presented here. Individual interviews have been carried out with participating pupils and their parents. The rationale behind this choice is that interviews are contextualised and can thus provide depth and detail (as opposed to questionnaire based approaches), and are to be preferred when 'why' and 'how' questions have been posed (Flyvbjerg, 2007). The interviews with pupils were carried out using a semi-structured guide, as is recommended for interviews with children (Docherty & Sandelowski, 1999). The guide consisted of a series of open questions pertaining to the pupil's understanding of the process of receiving support; the pupil's perception of the impact of the intervention with regard to school performance; out-of-school activities and activities in the family, and if positive changes are experienced, how enduring the pupil perceives such changes to be. The interviews with the pupils took place in a municipality community hall or in a room at the school. When processing the raw information the interviews were digitally-recorded and transcribed verbatim. The data was processed using NVIVO 10. Each interview transcript was entered as a single case, with twenty cases in total. The approach adopted when analysing the empirical data has been inspired by what Patton (2002) describes as thematic analysis and involves the recognition of patterns. Data was coded and closely analyzed by identifying increasing levels of abstraction in the material (Braun & Clarke, 2006). Conclusions, Expected Outcomes or FindingsPreliminary results indicate that pupils see encounters with the on-site interprofessional support team as impacting on their attendance, approaches to school work and achievement. This, as the pupils report, is in part due to the experience in lessons of being able to keep away from conflicts with other pupils and teachers. Previously a consequence of being involved in conflicts meant the pupil having to leave lessons. Pupils also speak of experiencing an increased capacity for subject goal attainment. A majority of the interviewees estimate that they have improved their grade in at least two or three subjects, often pointing to core subjects such as Swedish, Maths and English. Further, the results indicate that the pupils perceive they can control whether, and if so, when they want to receive support from the support team. This, they report, contributes to a willingness to both emotionally and cognitively engage in the program and in the counselling provided. They describe that this engagement gives them tools to better focus on subject learning in class, to take control of their emotions and not to initiate conflicts or respond violently in peer relations in the classroom. A particularly interesting finding is that pupils do not perceive that support from the onsite team is attached to any sense of stigma, shame or embarrassment. Indeed, some pupils' accounts indicate that, when receiving support from the team, they feel much more comfortable about talking about problems they experience in the home such as, for example, violence or parents' alcohol misuse. However, some negative experiences of receiving support from the onsite team are revealed. For example, pupils perceive that the staff are not as immediately available as they would like them to be, and that support is not sufficiently 'on-demand', thus causing causes them anxiety and feelings of reduced self-worth

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2014.
National Category
Psychology
Research subject
SOCIAL SCIENCE, Psychology
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:hv:diva-7245OAI: oai:DiVA.org:hv-7245DiVA: diva2:775855
Conference
European Conference on Educational Research, 1-5 September 2014, Porto, Portugal. ECER 2014
Available from: 2015-01-05 Created: 2015-01-05 Last updated: 2015-08-13Bibliographically approved

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Bolin, AnetteSorbring, Emma

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