How does the ethos of the school counselling service relate to the ethos of the host primary school?
The Rainbow Room narratives

  • Marilyn McGowan

    Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


    School counselling is currently recognised as a response to mental health issues of pupils in schools (Department for Education, 2016). The aim of this research study is to explore how this works in practice for one school counselling service within a primary school, by focussing on the multifaceted concept of ethos.

    A multi-method research design using an ethnographic approach was used to gather data to reflect and explore embodied experiences by the school counsellor, the practitioner researcher, in the research field. These methods comprised interviews, focus groups, and participant observation. Narrative analysis was used to interpret and present the data.

    The findings are presented in the narrative form of a play, called the ‘Rainbow Room Narratives,’ which presents multi-vocal narratives from participants within the designated space where counselling and emotional literacy takes place. This space is further explored as a metaphor for the ethos of both the school and the counselling service.
    A humanistic ethos is identified as a crucial underpinning for the relationship between the ethos of the school and the counselling service. This ethos is found to create an environment of nurture and shared leadership which is upheld and protected by key leaders of ethos in a variety of practices. Even when faced with challenges and difficulties, often from the current Zeitgeist, the ethos is maintained through a commitment to holistic education. The school counsellor is identified as part of an integrated, inclusive and tiered system of support for vulnerable children. A devolved style of leadership, to which the counsellor belongs, supports both the ethos of the school and the counselling service.

    The findings suggest that a focus on ethos might offer insight into how to deliver effective, integrated school counselling and mental health strategies in school through a system of devolved leadership.
    Date of AwardSep 2020
    Original languageEnglish
    Awarding Institution
    • Coventry University
    • Buckinghamshire New University
    SupervisorPiers Worth (Supervisor) & Ina Stan (Supervisor)


    • counselling
    • school
    • narratives

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