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External agents in schools: roles and responsibilities for children and young people’s learning and wellbeing

EVERITT, Julia (2018) External agents in schools: roles and responsibilities for children and young people’s learning and wellbeing. Doctoral thesis, Staffordshire University.

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Abstract or description

This thesis examines the other individuals involved in schools and classrooms who are not teachers or teaching assistants. Many terms exist for these individuals including external agents, providers and specialists. This is set within a policy background of government reports, Acts and initiatives from the early 1900s. Those invited in to be involved in schools. includes statutory agencies, military-style organisations, the voluntary sector, community members and employers. The literature which examines the involvement of these external agents in schools does so from a narrow perspective, such as a specific agent type or policy initiative. In contrast, the aim is to identify the full range of agents involved across four case study schools through a broad approach in that it does not focus on a type of agent (e.g. employers); a specific initiative (e.g. extended schools) or period (e.g. 1960 to 2000). There is a lack of discussion within the literature from the agent perspective. To counteract this gap, the perceptions of agents are compared against those of school staff, in terms of the rationales for their involvement in schools. The aim is to determine if the involvement of agents is in relation to government invitations or if other rationales exist. The contribution to knowledge is in terms of this broad approach to the identification of agents, against the approach taken in previously studies. It also adds knowledge in that it compares the perceptions of both external agents and school staff about the rationales for involvement.
The research involves completion of a pro-forma by a staff member at each school to identify the agents. It also includes semi-structured interviews with school staff and external agents plus documentary analysis. It draws on a collective case study approach to describe the situation in terms of external agent involvement and used an ideology critique to examine the different interests and the legitimacy of the situation. This research draws on Bronfenbrenner’s Ecological Model of Human Development (1979) to explore the different system levels of rationale. It also utilises the different form of capital which include social capital (Putnam, 2000), cultural capital and economic capital (Bourdieu, 1997), human capital (Becker, 1964), intellectual capital and organisational capital (Hargreaves, 2001; 2003; Craig et al. 2004). These are presented as a typology. The different forms of capital are used to explore if the involvement is in relation to one form of capital over another. Through this process of reflection the aim is to share an insight in terms of the reality of external agent involvement in schools and to make recommendations through this research to improve the involvement of external agent involvement in schools through shared knowledge.
The findings indicate a high involvement of external agents in the schools with trends of agent type being linked to government policies. However, the ‘messiness’ in the identification of agents resulted in just a ‘snapshot’ of the agent involvement. This is a consequence of insufficient staff knowledge related to their role, time in service or value they place on the capitals of the agents. There is a disconnection between some agent perceptions of their relationship to the school and the inclusion in the data. The findings also suggest there is a complexity in terms of the rationales which operate at multi-system levels. These rationales include financial, educational, informational and wellbeing. Where agents are involved through school requests there is clearly an agent benefit but also a link to macro rationales. Where agents are involved for rationales that emanate beyond the schools, access difficulties are reported and the desire to ‘fit in’ to negotiate access. Agents use the different capitals such as social capital and economic capital to attempt to gain access to schools. Although agents have their own primary rationale for being involved in schools, many are asked by schools to deliver specialist or targeted provision at no cost. There are tensions between some agents and schools in terms of the expectations placed upon them by schools. However, even where agents offere physical cash to schools, it does not result in open access to pupils. This highlights a complexity in the rationales for involvement of external agents in schools.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Faculty: School of Life Sciences and Education > Education
Depositing User: Jeffrey HENSON
Date Deposited: 19 Jun 2018 13:15
Last Modified: 24 Feb 2023 13:51

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