An exploration of parents’ perception of Pupil Referral Units (PRUs) in the development of parent voice and authentic, productive and lasting partnerships

DProf thesis


Meehan, A. 2024. An exploration of parents’ perception of Pupil Referral Units (PRUs) in the development of parent voice and authentic, productive and lasting partnerships. DProf thesis Middlesex University Health, Social Care and Education
TypeDProf thesis
TitleAn exploration of parents’ perception of Pupil Referral Units (PRUs) in the development of parent voice and authentic, productive and lasting partnerships
AuthorsMeehan, A.
Abstract

This study explores experiences of parents of children excluded from schools and attending Pupil Referral Units (PRUs), which research shows is considered to be a stigmatising experience. Negative narratives around PRUs have been well documented; they are portrayed as schools to avoid. Working-class, minority ethnic and vulnerable pupils are overrepresented in PRUs, with little variation in this pattern since their introduction.

Conceived within a critical constructivist paradigm, informed by Freire, Kincheloe and Bourdieu, this ethnographic study fills a gap in how this issue is addressed by broadening the investigation to offer critical insights into historical, political and ideological factors impeding effective strategies for exclusion. Semi-structured interviews and a focus group were used to gather data from parents and key stakeholders. Reflexive thematic analysis and narrative inquiry were used for analysis purposes.

My study shows that PRUs remain peripheral to a fragmented education system, increasingly subject to neoliberal principles. Parents experience powerlessness in the process of exclusion, fear sending their children to PRUs and desire a quick return to mainstream. PRUs’ and mainstream schools’ conflicting priorities make reintegration problematic. Pupils stay in PRUs often for many years.

This study proposes giving PRUs a pivotal role, giving statutory weight to designing reintegration plans, including determining subsequent mainstream placements at the point of exclusion, with pupils’ stay at a PRU time-limited. Acknowledging PRUs as operating in a liminal space with the practical wisdom (phronesis) needed to deal with complex needs, PRUs can become arbiters in determining pupils’ readiness for reintegration. Trained in advocacy and non-behaviourist, relational approaches, staff can foster lasting partnerships with parents, often labelled hard to reach, advocating for them in challenging exclusion decisions and supporting them in navigating the education system, accessing other support services, to improve chances of a successful and sustainable reintegration.

Sustainable Development Goals4 Quality education
3 Good health and well-being
10 Reduced inequalities
Middlesex University ThemeHealth & Wellbeing
Department nameHealth, Social Care and Education
Institution nameMiddlesex University
PublisherMiddlesex University Research Repository
Publication dates
Online23 May 2024
Publication process dates
Accepted08 Apr 2024
Deposited23 May 2024
Output statusPublished
Accepted author manuscript
File Access Level
Open
LanguageEnglish
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AMeehan thesis.pdf
File access level: Open

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