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Teaching assistants’ influence on the peer relationships of pupils with SEND: A grounded theory study from the perspective of teaching assistants.

Highton, Sean S (2017) Teaching assistants’ influence on the peer relationships of pupils with SEND: A grounded theory study from the perspective of teaching assistants. Other thesis, University of Essex and Tavistock & Portman NHS Trust.

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Abstract

This study investigates the influence of teaching assistants (TAs) on the peer relationships of pupils with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) in mainstream schools. Peer relationships are central to development. Whilst there is an increasing body of research into TAs’ contribution to academic outcomes, there are comparatively few studies into their social impact. The majority of studies investigating the impact of TAs on the peer relationships of pupils with SEND highlight concerns that TAs deployed in a one-to-one role inadvertently hinder pupil relationships. This study sought to explore and explain the strategies used by TAs and the underlying contextual factors which facilitate or constrain the development of positive peer relationships for pupils with SEND. The purpose of the research was to identify, from the perspective of TAs, ‘what works, for whom, in what contexts and with what outcomes’. Qualitative data from interviews with six TAs working in primary schools was analysed using a critical realist position and grounded theory methodology (Corbin & Strauss, 2015). The results propose that TAs use ‘manager’ and ‘coach’ strategies to influence pupil peer relationships, via the core category of ‘social agency’. The ‘manager’ enabled short-term reductions in pupils’ level of social ‘risk’, problems and isolation, but constrained the development of social skills and increased dependency in the longer-term. The ‘coach’ encouraged pupils to take controlled, short-term risks, but facilitated their reflective thinking, social skills and independence. Three causal factors influenced TAs’ use these strategies; the level of social need of pupils, TAs’ values, knowledge, skills and integrated experience and the school context. The concept of ‘social agency’, applied to both TAs and pupils, explains the properties of, and relationships between the above components. The theory has implications for the practice of TAs and educational professionals and provides a basis for future research.

Item Type: Thesis (Other)
Uncontrolled Keywords: Teaching Assistants Special Education Peer Relationships
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
L Education > L Education (General)
L Education > LB Theory and practice of education
L Education > LB Theory and practice of education > LB1501 Primary Education
L Education > LC Special aspects of education
Depositing User: Sean Highton
Date Deposited: 15 Mar 2018 12:18
Last Modified: 15 Mar 2018 12:18
URI: http://repository.essex.ac.uk/id/eprint/21542

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