Punitive behaviour management policies and practices in secondary schools: A systematic review of children and young peopleā€™s perceptions and experiences (2023)

Authors: Rebecca Jones, Jana Kreppner, Fiona Marsh and Brettany Hartwell
Published: 2023
Publication: Emotional and Behavioural Difficulties

Traditional in-school approaches focus on using consequences for managing pupil behaviour. Within published literature, concerns have been raised about the effectiveness and negative impact of punitive approaches. This systematic synthesis explores the perspectives of children and young people (CYP) in secondary schools on in-school punitive behaviour management policies and practices. Papers are evaluated using an adapted version of the Critical Appraisal Skills Programme (2019) and study findings are analysed using thematic synthesis. The findings highlight CYPā€™s thoughts on the fairness and consistency of punitive consequences, the impact of these on academic development and emotional wellbeing, and the limited long-term effectiveness of such approaches. CYP explain their need to feel listened to, understood and supported with their behaviour and emotions. Implications of these views for school staff, educational professionals and education policy makers are outlined.

Jones, R., Kreppner, J., Marsh, F. & Hartwell, B. (2023) Punitive behaviour management policies and practices in secondary schools: A systematic review of children and young peopleā€™s perceptions and experiences, Emotional and Behavioural Difficulties, 28:2-3, 182-197, DOI: 10.1080/13632752.2023.2255403

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The Voice of Service Children: A Systematic Review of Service Childrenā€™s Experiences and a Study Exploring School Belonging in Children of Service Personnel

Assignment type: Thesis
Author: Kirsty Daniels
Submitted: June 2021


Chapter 1 provides an account of the research background and how understanding the needs of UK service children sits within the national context and personal position of the researcher. Chapter 2 presents a systematic review of existing research that gathered the voices of service children in the UK. Searches for this review identified six research papers that were critically appraised in order to better understand the experiences of service children in the UK. A number of common themes emerged relating to the highs and lows of service life, recognising both the challenges and positive outcomes being a service child can bring. These themes were referenced in relation to parental deployment and mobility, and key findings emphasised the importance of social relations as both a risk and protective factor for these individuals. The findings highlighted the need to examine the impact of parental deployment and school transition on the relational needs of service children. Chapter 3 presents a qualitative study that explores school belonging in children of service personnel. Interpretative phenomenological analysis (IPA) was used to explore the lived experiences of six service children and their sense of school belonging. IPA was viewed through a critical realism lens. Five main themes developed from the analysis: defining school belonging; fostering connections and improving communications (at the individual and systemic level); school support: positive attitudes and understanding of the issues facing service children; transition; and impact on childā€™s phenomenon. From these findings a number of practical suggestions were identified.

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The perspectives and experiences of children with special educational needs in mainstream primary schools regarding their individual teaching assistant support (2021)

Author: Hayley Pinkard
Published: 2021
Publication: European Journal of Special Educational Needs

This paper reports a small-scale qualitative research project, carried out in the south of England. Ten children (aged ten-eleven) with a range of SEN, from mainstream primary schools, took part in individual semi-structured interviews about their TA support. Child-friendly interviews utilised toy props and a creative ā€˜Ideal TAā€™ activity to aid communication and engagement. Data were analysed using thematic analysis. Participantsā€™ perspectives highlighted the ways in which their TAs had been deployed, which they perceived to enable helpful scaffolding of learning, but also caused a significant degree of separation from teachers. The nurturing characteristics of TAs were appreciated, and the positive impacts of TA support on pupilsā€™ social inclusion and emotional well-being were emphasised.

This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis in the European Journal of Special Educational Needs on 20/04/21, available online:

Pinkard, H. (2021) The perspectives and experiences of children with special educational needs in mainstream primary schools regarding their individual teaching assistant support. European Journal of Special Educational Needs, 36(2), 248-264. https://doi.org/10.1080/08856257.2021.1901375 

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Mental health beyond the school gate: Young peopleā€™s perspectives of mental health support online, and in home, school and community contexts (2020)

Authors: Natalie Jago, Sarah Wright, Brettany K. Hartwell and Rachel Green
Published: 2020
Publication: Educational and Child Psychology

Aims: This study sought to develop a greater understanding of what young people identify as essential components of mental health support.
Rationale: Children and young peopleā€™s mental health has been identified as an area of concern and highlighted by the government as a priority area for improvement. In the United Kingdom (UK), increased importance has been placed on capturing their views. However, research suggests this group is not always asked for their views by decision-makers leading to a discrepancy between what is provided and what children and young people want from support. Incorporating the views and perspectives of children and young people in the design of appropriate support approaches is an important way to give them a voice in issues that affect them, as well as ensuring provision is suitable.
Method: A two-round Delphi method was used whereby a panel of young people aged 16-25 who had previously experienced a mental health difficulty rated a series of statements. A consensus level of 75% across the panel was set to include/exclude statements in a final framework of recommendations. To gain feedback on the feasibility and utility of the framework, interviews with adult stakeholders were carried out.
Findings: The competencies identified were used to form a framework of recommendations for practice. The importance of relationships, the need for trust and confidentiality, and the need for further mental health awareness and training were key themes identified.
Conclusions: This study provides a helpful insight into what young people value from mental health support. Implications of the research include a need for further awareness raising of children and young peopleā€™s views regarding mental health and larger scale participatory research to expand upon the findings of the current study.

Jago, N., Wright, S., Hartwell, B. K. & Green, R. (2020) Mental Health Beyond the School Gate: Young Peopleā€™s Perspectives of Mental Health Support Online, and in Home, School and Community Contexts. Educational and Child Psychology, 37(3), 69-85.

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The perspectives and experiences of children with special educational needs in mainstream primary schools regarding their individual teaching assistant support

Assignment type: Thesis
Author: Hayley Frisby
Submitted: June 2016


Over the past twenty years there has been a continuous and significant rise in the number of teaching assistants (TAs) working within English schools and they are increasingly taking on a more pedagogical role, often working with pupils with special educational needs(SEN). A systematic review of the international literature was conducted, exploring the impacts of TA support on pupilsā€™ academic, social and emotional/behavioural outcomes(including 24 papers published between the years 2000 and 2015). Key stakeholdersā€™ views about the impacts of TA support were found to be largely positive, as were evaluations of TA-led targeted academic interventions. A number of quantitative investigations of regular TA support for specific pupils indicated a negative relationship between TA support and pupilsā€™ academic progress. Pupil perspectives regarding their TA support were rarely documented within the literature. A qualitative empirical study was conducted to contribute more of a pupil voice. Ten Year Six pupils with SEN took part in individual semi-structured interviews, discussing their one-to-one TA support. Props(such as a ā€˜Judgeā€™ figurine)helped to set expectations and reassure participants, whilst a creative, visual activity supported their communication and engagement. Participantsā€™ discussions highlighted that they were almost constantly accompanied by a TA and saw the TA as their ā€˜teacherā€™. There was a significant degree of separation from the class teacher and a perception that the TA knew participants better than the teacher did. Pupils had rarely been consulted about their TA support in school. However, great admiration was shown for TAs,who were often considered to epitomise their ideal TA. Participantsā€™ discussions suggested that TAs advocated for pupils and possibly looked beyond theirlabels of SEN. They talked passionately about the emotional support provided by TAs (including building their sense of belonging with in school) and suggested that TAs support more positive interactions with peers.

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Encouraging ā€˜pupil participationā€™; exploring school practices, benefits and challenges

Assignment type: Essay
Author: Abi Sharpe
Submitted: November 2017

The requirement for schools to listen to pupilsā€™ views on their education is now endorsed in both government policy and law. Researchers have found that young people have useful things to say about their education, and yet pupil participatory practices are not embedded in schools. Throughout this essay, Hartā€™s (1992) ladder of participation is used as a framework to consider the different levels of effective participation. School councils are a popular participatory practice in schools but are not always seen as an effective method of eliciting pupilsā€™ views. Studies suggest that appropriate planning and a change of school ethos is key to their success. Research has also been conducted into how teachers engage pupils in giving feedback on teaching and learning. Findings indicate that individual differences amongst teachers can impact on their engagement in participation, and resulting practices can vary in the degree to which they would be considered participatory. The limited research into democratic schools highlights promising outcomes for their pupils but the prospect of similar approaches working in mainstream schools raises a number of challenges. This essay concludes that engaging in effective pupil participatory practices in schools has the potential to result in a range of positive outcomes. Policy makers and schools need to consider the degree of decision-making or influence they want to give to pupils. They may also require more training and guidance to make participatory practices effective. Educational Psychologists are well placed to support this process both at a whole school and policy level.

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Using Personal Construct Psychology to Explore Young Peoplesā€™ Experiences of SEN Support in a Mainstream School

Assignment type: Research Project (Small Scale Research Project, Year 1)
Authors: Kate Brant, Rosa Gibby-Leversuch, Catherine Goodchild, Cate Mullen and Hanna Kovshoff
Submitted: Spring 2017

The 2015 Special Educational Needs (SEN) Code of Practice mandates that pupilsā€™ views on their educational experience should be sought and used to inform practice. Practitioners have responded to this recommendation by actively including pupils in planning meetings for statutory assessments and annual reviews. However, there is no clear process in place to capture the views of pupils with SEN who receive support at school but do not have an Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP) or Statement of SEN. Continue reading