A study of the education welfare officer working to improve school attendance

Holmes, Kim (2003) A study of the education welfare officer working to improve school attendance. PhD thesis, Middlesex University.

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Truancy is currently (DfElS, 2001) right at the top of the government's list of educational issues to be addressed. On any one day, 400,000 pupils who should be in school are absent.That is 5% of the school population. The education welfare officer (EWO) has a very specific role in supporting a school to maintain high levels of attendance but these figures indicate there is clearly a need to examine ways in which different Education Welfare Services (EWSs) and their officers tackle school non-attendance. The research documented in this study set out to examine the working practice of EWOs engaged to improve school attendance.

The methodology employed to do trIis comprised of a postal questionnaire, 16 in-depth
interviews over a six-month period and a two-year action research investigation in one
'failing' secondary school. The lead methodological approach has been the interview technique that has enabled the researcher to pursue the collection of data as part of a social
process. The research strategy involved a survey of 90 EWOs and from this sample 16 volunteers were sought to take part in the next phase of the research.

The research findings strongly suggest the status and position of the EWS within education hierarchy is not at all clear. Issues regarding practitioner's title, training, supervision, skills required, qualifications and interventions have all been discussed leading to a conclusion that the EWS needs to be professionalised, the role of the EWO needs to be specialised and basic administrative tasks need to be undertaken by an administrator. The findings from this study are entirely in keeping with evidence from other research in that there are no national guidelines; staff tend to disagree with the fundamentals of their job; some staff do not work in partnership with schools; others try to change what happens in a school without the position and authority to succeed. However, this investigation has taken matters a stage further by extending this knowledge through interviews with EWOs and managers to develop a model of effective practice that has been tried and tested.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Research Areas: B. > Theses
Item ID: 13496
Depositing User: Adam Miller
Date Deposited: 16 Jan 2015 15:49
Last Modified: 14 Mar 2018 08:06
URI: http://eprints.mdx.ac.uk/id/eprint/13496

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