Social Learning and Behaviour of Looked-After Children in Mainstream Primary Schools within a Local Authority
: Policy, Provision and Practice

  • Yvonne J. Stollard

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


Over the last 30 years, research has consistently found that children in public care (LAC), in general, have low educational attainments. The research has tended to be from a social work standpoint with the focus on achievements at secondary school, In contrast, this study is from an education perspective and concerns the educational attainments of primary school LAC. This in-depth classroom-based research examines potentially modifiable aspects of social learning and behaviour in the education of LAC in order to generate hypotheses that can be subsequently tested. An investigation was carried out into the social perceptions of LAC, and their social perceptions of self, in the context of their mainstream primary school classrooms. The purposive sample consisted of 15 LAC aged five to 11 years, in 15 classrooms, in 11 mainstream primary schools, in one local authority. A total of 372 children and 59 school staff participated. A case study design employing mixed methods was used to ascertain and analyse sociometric status (SMS), locus of control beliefs (LCB) and self-esteem (S-E). The 15 LAC and their classmates completed two sociometric tests set in the context of the playground and the classroom, and two psychometric measures, PPNSIE (Nowicki-Duke, 1973) and B/G-STEEM (Maines & Robinson, 1983). School records were used to evaluate the children’s academic attainment, and school staff were consulted regarding the LAC’s SMS, LCB and S-E. The main non-directional hypothesis emerging from the empirical data is that there are complex relationships between the SMS, LCB, S-E, and educational attainment of LAC. Two additional factors became apparent from the findings. These were the varied emotional well-being of the LAC, and difficulties concerning language development. The findings of the case studies highlight the uniqueness of the 15 individual LAC in their specific classrooms and schools. This data calls into question the helpfulness of stereotyping other than for Governmental and local authority policymaking. For the class teacher, the value and practical methods of identifying specific social learning difficulties open to modification within individual LAC, and other ‘vulnerable children’, have been demonstrated. Declaration The work presented in this thesis is, to the best of my knowledge and belief, original, except as acknowledged in the text. I hereby declare that no part of this thesis has been submitted in support of an application for another degree or qualification of this or any other university or institute of learning.
Date of Award2011
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Coventry University
  • University of Worcester
SupervisorPeter Pumfrey (Supervisor) & Peter Wakefield (Supervisor)

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