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Professional Narratives and Learning from Experience: Review of the Critical Incident Response to the Grenfell Tower Fire

Dunsmuir, S; Hayes, B; Lang, J; (2018) Professional Narratives and Learning from Experience: Review of the Critical Incident Response to the Grenfell Tower Fire. UCL Educational Psychology Group, Division of Psychology and Language Sciences: London, UK. Green open access

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Abstract

On 14 June 2017 a fire started in the Grenfell Tower in the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, London, leading to 71 confirmed deaths. The impact of this and how it was dealt with in local schools was the focus of this study. The aim was to gather information about the experience and perceptions of various practitioners (for example, senior teachers and educational psychologists) that worked in and supported schools and the wider community, in order to consider implications for practice with regard to making professional responses to critical incidents in the future. Professional perspectives were obtained by conducting semi-structured telephone interviews with 19 participants – 12 head teachers or senior leaders in local schools, six educational psychologists and one local authority officer. Telephone interview transcripts were analyzed qualitatively, using thematic analysis procedures. Themes that were identified included contextual factors and pre-existing concerns. Participants described the range of emotional responses and their immediate reflections and reactions. A large number of comments addressed communication– how advice was sought, information shared, external offers of support dealt with, facts checked. There were some moving accounts of the role of school staff in listening and talking to parents and pupils, and descriptions of how space for communication was provided during the school day. Participants spoke about procedures, including decisions that had to be made relating to school opening, health and safety concerns, ensuring normality, pupil and parent welfare and the end of term. Participants discussed their critical incident/emergency plans and developments to these since the fire. Comments about a range of professional services were provided, including art therapy, CAMHS, the church, counselling, educational psychology, school governors and local authority. Dealing with external bodies was also a source of discussion, with issues relating to protocols, donations, media and dealing with multiple offers of help. Participants gave constructive comments about the psychological guidance and resources provided. A theme relating to supervision and support for professionals emerged and also the professional learning that had taken place as a result of the critical incident response, offering the potential for wider application. Finally, some continuing concerns were recorded. The findings are discussed in the context of existing research and recommendations made for the future.

Type: Report
Title: Professional Narratives and Learning from Experience: Review of the Critical Incident Response to the Grenfell Tower Fire
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 Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Div of Psychology and Lang Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Div of Psychology and Lang Sciences > Clinical, Edu and Hlth Psychology
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10067833
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