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Exploring the experiences of school exclusion for pupils on the autism spectrum

Gray, Laura; (2018) Exploring the experiences of school exclusion for pupils on the autism spectrum. Doctoral thesis (D.Ed.Psy), UCL (University College London). Green open access

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Abstract

Children and young people on the autism spectrum frequently report a range of negative educational experiences and face disproportionately high rates of school exclusion, which can have a significant impact on their wellbeing and educational outcomes. The implementation of appropriate educational provision for these pupils is vital to ensure positive educational experiences and to reduce school exclusions. To date, remarkably few studies have explored the school exclusion experiences of pupils on the autism spectrum. This study adopted a multi-informant approach in an attempt to understand the factors that potentially contribute to the exclusion experiences of autistic pupils. Information about the characteristics of the pupils was gathered to identify the range of needs for this particular sample, including their autistic features, behaviour, sensory needs, quality of life, and general cognitive ability. Semi-structured interviews were also conducted with pupils, parents, teachers and local authority professionals to further understand the pupils’ school exclusion experiences. Inclusive methodological approaches were used within the interview process with the pupils to help ensure that their perspectives were successfully gained. The results revealed overwhelmingly negative accounts of autistic pupils’ school exclusion experiences with detrimental impacts on the child and their family. The quantitative data in this study showed variation in the individual characteristics of the pupils, thus suggesting that exclusion was not the result of particular individual factors. Instead, these school exclusion experiences seemed to result from school- and system-level factors. Autistic pupils struggled to access mainstream schools and spent significant amounts of time out of education while their parents reported having trouble navigating the complex local authority processes in an attempt to secure an appropriate educational environment. Professionals attempted to promote the inclusion of autistic pupils but struggled due to capacity. Aspects of the alternative provisions that were successful for these pupils were highlighted, including a focus on individual need, an inclusive ethos, positive relationships and a collaborative approach. The implications these results have for schools, educational psychologists and educational policy makers are discussed.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Qualification: D.Ed.Psy
Title: Exploring the experiences of school exclusion for pupils on the autism spectrum
Event: UCL (University College London)
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Education
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Education > UCL Institute of Education
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10056262
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