Background Having carried out a literature review in regards to the educational achievements of Looked after Children, it became apparent that placements had a huge impact on achievement, and many researchers linked this to frequency of placement movements (Sunned, 201 3), along with types of placements, i. E. Foster homes or institutional residential homes (McClure & Galley, 2010). The literature highlighted placements as one of the main factors to Looked after children being low educational achievers.
McClure and Galley’s research stated that frequent changes in placement mean children ND young people being out of school for longer periods, therefore, affecting their achievements (2010). This led to considerations about why placements may break down and the reasons for this. Through the literature review, it became evident that not one previous study had made any reference or note to the cultural identities of the Looked after Children and that only one study had involved a child from a different culture (Sunned, 2013).
This was viewed as a gap in research but could also be seen to extend previous research in regards to the focus of placements being a large factor in the educational achievement of Looked after Children. Another key point is the participation of Looked after Children within previous research studies. Most of those reviewed carried out research on the children and young people, as opposed to with them (Danna, 2011). This can be seen as a weakness of previous research, therefore, child led research could be seen to close this gap by addressing this issues through the child perspective.
Research Question The aim of this research will be to take an explanatory approach to determine if cultural identity is a factor in the placements of Looked after Children, which could lead to a particular pattern in educational achievement for these children and young people. The main objectives would be; is cultural identity important in a successful placement? Is cultural identity important to Looked after Children? And could lack of cultural considerations lead to placement breakdowns and why?
These aims and objectives will extend to a consideration of whether cultural identity could impact on a successful and stable placement and whether this placement can then lead to lower or higher educational achievement for Looked after Children. These research questions could be difficult to answer due to the extensive links within cultural identity and educational achievement, therefore, careful consideration is given to the methodology and the importance of Looked after Children being participants in the research.
These questions also aim to further extend knowledge and understanding from previous research, as well as to inform policy and practice. Word count: 509 References Danna, R. , 2011. Look out! Looked after! Look here! Supporting Looked after and adopted Children in the primary classroom. International journal of Primary, Elementary and Early Years Education, 39(5), up. 55-465. M McClure V. Galley. , 2010. Exploring the care effects of multiple factors on the educational achievement of children looked after at home: an investigation of two Scottish local authorities.
Child and Family Social work, Volume 15, up. 409-431. Sunned, E. , 2013. Looked after Children: what supports them to learn?. Educational psychology in practice: theory, research and practice in educational psychology, 29(4), up. 367-382. Part 2 Methodology proposal The research questions identified in part one mean the methodology for the research project needs careful consideration due to the explanatory approach, the sensitive nature of the context of the research and the factors and ethics involved in children and young people being research participants.
This will be discussed in greater detail in this section, and a proposal for the methodology will be argued. Sample Due to the nature Of this research it could be argued that the main sampling approach would need to be that of inviolability sampling. As there are considerable ethical considerations within this proposal, it may mean that the sample of Looked after children will need to be those that are accessible and agreeable to be participants.
Of course, there are consequences to this being that a large portion of Looked after Children are excluded from the study, however, it is the accessibility to Looked after children, who will have a many gate keepers which would limit the sampling for this project. For this same reason, the sample will aim to work with a small number (five) of Looked after Children from two different local boroughs similar to the approach used by McClure and Galley’s research of Looked after Children in two Scottish authorities (2010).
The local authorities will be selected based on statistics of he different cultures of Looked after Children within the care of that borough, hoping to obtain consent to two authorities with a diverse range of cultures. It would be hoped that ten children from each authority would be participants. Ethics and consent are to be complex factors within this research, so the sample number would be indicative of these factors, whereby it is small enough to be able to carefully plan for consent and ethics, yet not so small as to produce inadequate or unauthentic data.
Ethics will be discussed in further detail later in this section. Informed consent is essential, ND will be managed through initial contact with each authority, however, as this project will involve the Looked after Children as participants, consent must also be gained from the children themselves, therefore, consideration as to their competence to consent will be given by discussions between the Looked after Children, their social worker and the researcher.
The researcher using interview and discussion at this initial consent stage will also allow for careful consideration be given to ensure children are not coerced into participating or unwittingly excluded (Alderman, 2014). Although it has been argued that even very young children are unable to fully understand research and the questions it seeks to answer, yet it can be that children and young people can have a more diverse range of experiences than some adults and that language and levels of understanding can be adapted to meet the competency of the children (Fraser, 2014).
With this in mind, this research project will consider Looked after Children as full participants and using a mixed methods approach, similar to that of the Mosaic approach adapting by Clark (Clark, 2014) will aim to work with Looked after Children within the age anger of eight to twelve years old. This age range was also chosen based on evidence in the previous literature review whereby McClure and Galley’s research findings suggested that children who came into the care system before they were twelve were likely to have more placements than children entering care after twelve years old (2010).
Data Collection As mentioned previously, the methodology is heavily influenced by the Mosaic approach (Clark, 2014) whereby a range of participatory methods will be used. The data that is required to answer the research questions will need o produce rich insights into the lives of Looked after Children and whether they consider their cultural identity to be important to them and whether this impacts on placements and educational achievement. It is with this in mind that the mixed method, two staged approach will be used.
Firstly, the children will be invited to take the researcher on a visual tour of their placement (homes) and will be encouraged to take photographs of objects that are important to them. This can be done firstly from an approach of the researcher being a participant observer, whereby having a tour of the child’s ligament by the child, then further into the study this could be revisited by providing the children with video cameras to film their own tours.
The Looked after Children will also be asked to create drawings and mood boards in relation to what they believe to be their culture, thereby, allowing an insight into their perspectives of culture and to prompt discussion during the interviews on whether they feel their culture is recognized and respected. This will also allow the children ownership and promote their rights (Smith, 2014).
Of course, all these methods can be adapted to suit the age of the hillier, as mood boards may be more suitable for those aged ten to twelve, and the drawings can be used for the younger age range, using different materials and equipment across all age ranges to meet individual needs. After these initial methods a thematic analysis will take place, which is discussed further in the next section.
This will then allow for the second stage of data collection; interviews and observations. Interviews with the children, will be semi-structured to resemble the normal everyday conversations children may have, thereby, enabling a richer insight into their experiences, thoughts and respective (Dewitt, 2014). Participant observation will also be used to gain an understanding of their lives and how they interpret their experiences of being in care.
This method is not without its challenges, as I the researcher will need to be aware of how my participation could impact on the behavior or views of the children, and given that they may place high importance on friendship (Brewing, 2011) it is vital to ensure participation without blurring the lines of a professional relationship. Along with this the children may consider me as too much of an ‘outsider’ being an adult and refuse to allow me to articulate in their everyday lives. Of course I have considered the practicalities of data collection, firstly, access to the children, the times I may have access and for how long.
Along with this there is the consideration that the children may move placement out of the local authority I would be working with. This would mean I would need to consider including more children half way through the research, however, this cod impact on the data analysis and time frame, so it would be considered that the number involved in there study would be reduced if children withdrew from the research project. Data Analysis As is by now evident, the methodology is heavily influenced by the Mosaic approach (Clark, 2014), therefore, it is important to consider how this approach may help with data analysis too.
Data from the children’s videos, drawings, mood boards and tours will be organized first into themes, which will not be imposed by me but rather be led by the data itself (Smith, 2014). This first stage of analysis that will produce initial themes will then be used to carry out the interviews. Using an interpretative approach, it will be with these emerging themes that will allow for semi-structured interviews. I will also insider at this first stage, opening up the data to the children for their own reflections and to check their perspectives are accurate, thus distinguishing between their perspectives and that of my own.
This is important for ensuring the children’s voice is kept at the forefront of the research and they are not just considered ‘objects’ to be studied (Fraser, 2014). The second stage of analysis will involve the creation of ‘case profiles’ (Henderson, 2014) nearer the end of the research, which will provide an overview of the changes and experiences of the Looked after Children and allow for a cross-case analysis Hammerless, 2014). Time Frame This research will require a longitudinal approach due to the context of the research question.
To establish if cultural identity can impact on placement breakdowns, thereby leading to underachieving educationally, the research would need time to explore cultural identity with the Looked after Children, followed by the impact this may have within placements. With this in mind the aim would be to carry out the research over a two year period. This period, although long, may enable a more reflexive project where a focus can be made on the processes of change, in particular, placements and changing identities.
This was influenced by Henderson and Thomson ‘Inventing Adulthood’ research, who argue that a ‘time layered’ picture is richer than ‘one off accounts (2014). This longitudinal approach is not without challenges. One could be the issues is of keeping the children involved over such a long time frame, secondly the length of the study will produce vast data to which there is a risk of becoming overwhelmed (Henderson, 2014), therefore, it is proposed that the analysis Of the data will be thematic and in two stages, including the case profiles, as discussed under the data analysis section above.
Ethics Ethical considerations are vital in any research project, however, it is argued that research with children and young people, ethics should play a more central role (Fraser, 2014). All efforts will be made to ensure harm or distress are avoided or at least minimized throughout this research project. I will use the three main frameworks of ethics (Alderman, 2014) as detailed below. The first framework involves ‘Principals’, whereby, respect for the Looked after Children will be at the forefront of the data collection.
Therefore, it is considered that the child participants will be treated with respect for their autonomy and be treated fairly. The second framework involves ‘Outcomes’. This will mean that during the data collection process, the benefits of giving Looked after Children a voice will be reflected upon continuously and all efforts will be made to ensure the children come to no harm or data collection methods do not cause distress. This can be done through reflections of the researcher, and consultations with the children’s careers and social workers. Thirdly, we will use the ethical framework of ‘Rights’.
Following this framework will ensure that the children have access to support, but also o ensure that their experiences and voices are portrayed authentically. These ethical considerations are not without their challenges and some researchers may argue that the way adults would treat a child may not actually be the way the child would like to be treated (Alderman, 2014). However, focus will be on allowing children voice throughout the research project and it is therefore thought that the child’s perspective of fair and respect will become known and acknowledged.
Of course, the child participants for this research project will already be seen as vulnerable, having been taken into care, therefore, as Alderman argues, it is imperative that ethics is considered a process throughout the research rather than only considered before the data collection takes place (2014, p. 92). Additionally, as one of the data collection methods means the production of drawings and videos, it is important to consider how these may be shared. Therefore, ownership and consent are vital to the project and the materials it produces will be used with integrity, respect and permission.
Furthermore, if at any time a child or children wished to stop an activity or interview or even wished to withdraw from the study altogether, this would be honored respectfully. Word count: 191 9 Alderman, P. , 2014. Ethics. In: Clark et al, deed. Understanding Research with Children and Young People. London: Sage Publications, p. 96. Clark, A. , 2014. Developing and Adapting the Mosaic Approach. In: Clark et al, deed. Understanding Research with Children and Young People. London: Sage Publications, up. 200-202. Hewitt, R. , 2014. Interviews. In: Clark et al, deed.
Understanding Research with Children and Young people. London: Sage Publications, p. 140. Hammerless, M. , 2014. Research Design. In: Clark et a’, deed. Understanding Research with Children and Young People. London: Sage Publications, p. 117. M Brewing,J. 2011. Supporting the transitions from primary to secondary school for children who are looked after. Educational psychology in practice, 27(4). M McClure, V. G. , 2010. Exploring the care effects of multiple factors on the educational achievement of children looked after at home: an investigation of two Scottish local authorities.
Child and Family Social work, Volume 15, up. 409-431. S Fraser, et al, 2014. What is Research with Children and Young People. In: Clark et al, deed. Understanding Research with Children and Young People. London: Sage Publications, up. 46-47. Sheila Henderson, R. Thomson. , 2014. Inventing Adulthood. In: Clark et al, deed. Understanding Research with Children and Young People. London: Sage Publications, up. 210-211. Smith, N. , 2014. Perspectives on Parental Involvement. In: Clark et a’, deed. Understanding Research with Children and Young People. London: Sage Publications, p. 96. Part 3 Evaluation This research is significant in various ways with the potential to have a wide ranging impact. Firstly, as this research hopes to establish if cultural identity is factor frequent placements then it has the potential to evoke evidence based practice and in the development of social policies to support this practice (Fraser, 2014). As Sunned states from his research with Looked after children, it is only by understanding who they are and what they think would they then be able to receive appropriate learning opportune ties (2013).
As discussed in part one of this proposal, although much research on Looked after Children has been carried out in the past, it appears that culture and cultural identity has not been a consideration as to the impact on placements and educational achievement. Therefore, as the United Kingdom becomes more diverse it should now be addressed whether this diversity of cultures can impact on Looked after Children and their identity and if lack of cultural recognition by adults in their lives can have a negative impact on their educational achievement, thus, their life chances.
Of course, earlier psychological and sociological research has relied on adult interpretations (Cooper, 2014), thus, this research study proposes a more child participatory approach enabling the children’s agency. Dissemination Plans On completion of the full research study it is hoped that this would be viewed and published in an educational and social care journal so that academics already in the field of social sciences and education may be able to give constructive feedback and to inform knowledge.
However, it is important that this research is not only considered by academics, but by practitioners and policy makers alike. Therefore, as Rob argues, it would be beneficial to the research project and the children involved in it to engage the anticipated audience early on in this study (2014). With this in mind, a realist of the first thematic analysis from the data produced by the children would aid understanding by practitioners and policy makers, in the hope that they will stay engaged with anticipation of summarize findings.
It is hoped this first dissemination could be done at sector conferences and seminars. Furthermore, there has been consideration as to using the new media technologies. One advantage of this strategy, would be the diverse audience it could achieve. As Rob suggests, new media, although slow on the uptake, is now being used more by academics, policy makers, practitioners and campaigners (2014, p. 244). However, when considering this form of dissemination, the ethical consideration of autonomy and harm may emerge o disable this method. This will only become apparent once the research take place.