Out of school: a phenomenological exploration of extended non-attendance.

Assignment type: Research Project (Applied Research Project, Year 2)
Authors: Matthew Baker & Felicity Bishop
Submitted: Summer 2014

The concept of ‘extended non-attendance’ (‘school phobia’ or ‘school refusal’) was distinguished from truancy by Broadwin (1932), and refers to children who fear school and avoid attending. Subsequent research has established that instances of extended non-attendance tend to be highly individual and multi-factorial in causation (Nuttall & Woods, 2013), but despite this improved understanding, outcomes for those affected are often poor and the child’s voice remains largely absent from the evidence base. The current study sought to address these shortcomings by examining the experiences of four children with extended attendance difficulties. Data consisted of semi-structured interviews conducted in the participants’ homes, and was analysed using Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis (Smith, Flowers & Larkin, 2009). Emergent themes include being disbelieved, experiencing fragmented support, and feeling blamed and punished. Various implications for practitioners are discussed, among them the importance of early intervention and the need to consider the voice of the child.

This assignment has been revised and published as an article:

Baker, M. & Bishop, F. L. (2015) Out of school: a phenomenological exploration of extended non-attendance. Educational Psychology in Practice, 31(4), 354-368. DOI:10.1080/02667363.2015.1065473

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