05 SES 01, Extended Services, Informal Education and Community Schools
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.
Allen-Meares, P. Montgomery, K. and Kim. J.S. (2013). School-based social work interventions: a cross-national systematic review. Social Work 58, 3. 253-262 Braun, V. & Clarke, V. (2006). Using thematic analysis in psychology. Qualitative Research in Psychology 3 2. 77–102. Danemark, B., Englund, U. & Germundsson, P. (2010). Skolans arbete med utsatta barn – ett samverkansperspektiv. Se, tolka och agera – allas rätt till en likvärdig utbildning. [Official Reports of the Swedish Government 2010:95] Docherty, S. & Sandelowski, M. (1999). Focus on Qualitative Methods Interviewing Children. Research in Nursing & Health 22, 177–185. Dube, S. R & Orpinas, P (2009). Understanding Excessive School Absenteeism as School Refusal Behavior. Children & Schools 31, 2. Flyvbjerg, B. (2007). Five misunderstandings about case-study research. In C. Seal, G. Gobo, J. F. Gubrium & D. Silverman, (Eds.). Qualitative Research Practice. London: Sage Publications. Patton, M. Q. (2002). Qualitative Research and Evaluation Methods. (3rd ed). Thousand Oaks California: Sage Publications. SOU 2010:95 Se, tolka och agera – allas rätt till en likvärdig utbildning. [Official Reports of the Swedish Government 2010:95]. National Board of Health and Welfare (2013). Samverka för barns bästa – en vägledning om barns behov av insatser från flera aktörer. Collaboration for the best interest of the Child. Stockholm: National Board of Health and Welfare article 2013-9-1
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