Harlow Fields School and College is currently the centre of an interesting research project being carried out by Laura Barton. Laura is training to be an Educational Psychologist through the University of East London (UEL). For her research thesis, she is conducting a piece of action research into using solution focussed approaches with children with learning difficulties. It is hoped that from this research, other professionals may be able to implement the ways of working that have been developed collaboratively by her and the students.
What is a solution focussed approach?
Solution focussed approaches are often used by professionals including educational psychologists. These techniques help the individual to think about the achievements they have made and what qualities about them helped them to achieve them. It also looks to the future and helps the individual think how they can use their set of personal qualities and skills to reach their next goal. There is a lot of research about how effective solution focussed approaches can be for children and adults in different settings and for a variety of needs.
Purpose of the research
Currently educational psychologists are using solution focussed approaches with pupils and teachers in a range of schools, but there is very limited evidence of it being used within a specialist provision, such as Harlow Fields. From this piece of research it is hoped that a greater understanding of the pupil’s views and ability to access this type of therapeutic technique will be gained. The pupils who participate will have access to shaping their own individual sessions so that they are accessible to them. It is anticipated that from this research, other professionals may be able to implement the ways of working that have been developed collaboratively with the pupils and myself.
Format of individual work with pupils
The research project involves me working individually with a number of pupils on numerous occasions and trialling different resources and techniques and gaining feedback from the pupils.
The possible conversational themes may be around a future transition, or something that they would like to change. The theme and content of the sessions will be led by the pupil.
The sessions will be videoed for the sole purpose to allow analysis later. The videos will be stored in accordance with the Data Protection Act 1998, in a secure location and will be digitally encrypted. Any data that is collected will only be used for the purpose of this study and will be destroyed appropriately after the research has been written up.
Consent and confidentiality
The sessions will be confidential between myself and the pupil, though will follow child protection procedures. With the pupil’s agreement, short feedback may be shared with school and parents at the end of the research project.
After gaining written consent from parents/carers, the pupils will be asked if they would like to take part and the process will be explained to them. The pupils are free to withdraw their participation at any time without the need for an explanation and this will be made clear to them.
During the write up of the project the school, the geographical location of the research project and the pupils will be unidentifiable. The pupils will be referred to as a letter or a number within the report.
As part of the process, the research proposal detailing what I intend to do and how I will hope to achieve it has been submitted to the Ethics Committee through the University of East London and the proposed research has been granted ethical approval.
I have previously worked within a specialist provision in Sussex similar to Harlow Fields and have experience of using alternative communication aids and interacting with pupils with a wide range of needs. The rationale behind my research is that I would like to use my previous experience to enable pupils to access some of the different approaches that Educational Psychologists use in their work.