A community-based experience of being permanently excluded from secondary school: an existential reflection

Landenberg, Valerie Jane (2020) A community-based experience of being permanently excluded from secondary school: an existential reflection. DCPsych thesis, Middlesex University / New School of Psychotherapy and Counselling. [Thesis]

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This research explores the lived experience of being permanently excluded from secondary school. Government statistics indicate that over forty pupils are excluded daily across schools in England; over thirty of these pupils are from secondary schools. Nearly 8,000 permanent exclusions were recorded in England for the academic year 2018/2019. The economic, social, educational and political profile of the excluded pupil is well documented but what has not yet been understood is the lived experience of the permanently excluded pupil in terms of the human condition, their lifeworld and existential predicament. This research provides an existential perspective to begin to address this lacuna and generate a new and much needed dialogue between professionals and excluded youth.

Seven participants between the ages of 17-23 were interviewed in the community using semi-structured interviews. The data was analysed using Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis (IPA) (Smith, J., Flowers, P., and Larkin, M., 2009) and Structural Existential Analysis (SEA) (van Deurzen, 2014a, 2019). Five major themes were identified which described each participant’s lifeworld surrounding exclusion. The first theme highlights the impact of growing up with hostility, violence, abuse, neglect and oppression at home. The second theme describes the problems and issues participants encounter at school. The third theme describes the transition of participants through a period from giving up on themselves and their world to regaining their will to flourish. The fourth theme is about participants constructing a new sense of self and fruitful direction in the world. In the final theme, participants look back and make sense of the behaviour which led to exclusion.

SEA brought many major attributes of existential philosophy to the analysis of the data. It was used to examine different facets of participants’ experiences including space, time, emotion and paradox. It enabled a deep excavation into the felt experience of participants across the four dimensions of existence. Blending two such heuristic, phenomenological devices enabled the richness of the data to reveal itself with strength and clarity. The findings indicate that the ontic nature of participants’ lifeworlds is a major factor leading to exclusion and that discussion about exclusion should involve an existential understanding of these youths’ experiences in the world, including the harrowing and fearsome experiences they endure in their home environments, their relationships across the four worldly dimensions, their enduring universal values and the uniqueness, tenacity and fortitude of their will to thrive.

Item Type: Thesis (DCPsych)
Research Areas: A. > School of Science and Technology > Psychology
B. > Theses
C. Collaborative Partners > New School of Psychotherapy and Counselling (NSPC)
Item ID: 33481
Depositing User: Sarah Stewart
Date Deposited: 12 Jul 2021 09:58
Last Modified: 29 Nov 2022 18:08
URI: https://eprints.mdx.ac.uk/id/eprint/33481

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