Transforming Troubled Lives: Strategies and Interventions for Children with Social, Emotional and Behavioural Difficulties: Volume 2

Cover of Transforming Troubled Lives: Strategies and Interventions for Children with Social, Emotional and Behavioural Difficulties

Table of contents

(31 chapters)

Late in 2010 the Social Emotional and Behavioural Association (SEBDA), based in the United Kingdom, held an international conference at Keble College, Oxford. The theme was ‘Transforming Troubled Lives’ and 160 delegates arrived from countries around the globe. Around 50 per cent of those attending presented papers. Some of the presentations were short, others longer, some very practically based and others more theoretically focused. A range of papers has already been published in SEBDA's international journal Emotional and Behavioural Difficulties (volume 16, issue 3). The chapters in this volume draw upon other presentations given at the conference, which we, as editors, felt were representative of the good practice, provision and policy to be found amongst professionals working both to transform the sometimes troubled lives of children and young people and to ensure that these students are included in educational settings.

This chapter describes the work undertaken with staff and students at a school for students with social emotional and behavioural in developing emotional literacy and creating an emotionally literate and solution focused school context. Although this specialist provision provided a nurturing, emotionally literate and inclusive environment, senior staff identified a need to develop the breadth and depth of their approaches both to support the students and staff and to increase the feel of inclusion experienced by students. Building their positive experiences is using an Appreciative Enquiry Approach (Cooperrider, D. L. (2001) Lessons from the field: Applying appreciative inquiry. New York, NY: Thin Book publishing) alongside a series of solution focused tools and strategies staff were able to identify ways forward.

This chapter presents a pedagogical tool for investigating at-risk children's attitudes towards the quality of school life. It has been developed from the questionnaire originally by Williams and Batten (1981), Binkley, Rust, and Williams (1996) and Dinkes, Forrest, and Lin-Kelly (2007).

This chapter provides an overview of a programme or rather a model used in Norwegian primary schools to meet the needs of children whose behaviour difficulties interrupt teaching and learning. In this chapter we give an overview of the PALS model and also present the general outline of a longitudinal outcome study of the school model including some information about the participating schools, staff and students.

The results of a pilot project between the Discipline of Occupational Therapy, Trinity College, Dublin, and the National Behaviour Support Service (NBSS) demonstrate that collaboration between professionals, students and parents can enable those of social disadvantage with significant behavioural problems participate better in school. This chapter describes the development of this service for students in two disadvantaged second-level schools, the processes of identifying need, interventions delivered and the collaborative workings of the partnership. The broad view of the Person–Environment–Occupation (Law et al., 1996) and a client-centred approach (Law & Mills, 1998) guided the intervention. An understanding of the social and situational influences in the school and classroom as experienced by each student was sought, as was the impact of possible sensory processing and attention difficulties on satisfactory participation in school. Students were perceived as having individual social and self-management learning needs and each class group and school was acknowledged as a unique culture. Engagement in fun-focused group processes supported the experience of inter-subjectivity and peer group learning was actively fostered. Thus, social action and co-construction of shared learning brought students to better connect with themselves and each other resulting in better engagement in school. However, each school staff and management team had its own culture and metaphor for explaining their students’ behaviours. This influenced their response to the occupational therapy perspective applied in this project. Following on from the success of this project, it is recommended that the collaborative approach between student, parents, teachers and therapist should be further developed in schools to benefit those with complex challenging behaviours. A national agency such as the NBSS is central to delivering this collaboration and partnership.

The School Behaviours Rating Scale (SBRS) measures observable school behaviour in primary aged students. It provides a tool for teachers and psychologists to use to assess behaviour and determine targets for intervention. The Scale measures strengths and needs, is easy to administer and score and is time efficient. It has been developed in Australia using data from classroom teachers on almost 2,000 students aged 5–12 years of age. The SBRS has sound psychometric qualities with subscale internal consistency scores ranging between .88 and .96, and test–retest reliability coefficients ranging from .86 to .97. The Scale comprises 51 behavioural descriptors which measure observable school behaviour across six domains or subscales comprising: General Classroom Behaviour; General Playground Behaviour; Getting Along with Other Students; Attempting Tasks Presented; Development of Social Skills and Aggressive Behaviours. The SBRS can be used to provide explicit information about a student's behavioural strengths, target areas for intervention, support functional assessment and provide a measure for pre- and post-intervention efficacy.

Nowadays primary and secondary school teachers search for increasing amounts of educational support when it comes to educating pupils with social, emotional and behavioural difficulties (SEBD). The social and emotional aspects of learning (SEAL) framework that was recently launched within the English educational setting provides a wide variety of guidelines and advice on how to promote and enhance the needs of pupils, including those with SEBD. These needs can be met by enhancing pupils’ self-awareness, managing their skills, enhancing their motivation and enabling them to become more empathetic as well as developing their social skills. These five components, according to many authors, are considered to come under the umbrella of social, emotional and behavioural skills (SEBS).

In the literature, there is evidence to support the view that primary and secondary school teachers are not psychologically prepared to adequately support pupils with SEBD within the classroom setting. The research I have undertaken has enabled me to come to the conclusion that, before entering the classroom, teachers first need to develop their own SEBS before attempting to enhance those of SEBD pupils. This goal can be achieved by enabling teachers to become more emotionally literate. Through the development of emotional literacy, teachers will gain the ability to understand their own emotions, listen to others and learn to empathise with them, as well as to express their emotions productively (Barrow, Bradshaw, & Newton, 2001). Once this goal has been achieved, teachers will be in a better position to support pupils with SEBD within their classrooms. Therefore, this chapter aims to explore the elements that emotional literacy has to offer primary and secondary school teachers, and how these elements enable them to enhance their personal skills when it comes to supporting pupils with SEBD.

This chapter explores the ways in which, over the past several years, the onus of UK central government policy has impacted upon managers and practitioners across services and agencies that work with children, young people and their families. It further considers the changes that have taken place in the education and training of the related professional workforces, with examples from education, social work, youth justice, residential work and fostering.

By drawing upon ideas from attachment theory and the principles of nurture, it becomes possible to identify alternative ways of working in these settings. In these new models the importance of positive relationships comes to the forefront of policy and practice, whilst the education and training of professional workers is shaped by a greater emphasis on children's development and the profound significance of attachment and nurture.

In different settings and across age groups, nurture groups provide an outstanding practice model, offering children and young people the right sort of experiences for improving their self-esteem, building up their resilience and overcoming barriers to learning. The principles upon which nurture groups are based offer an exciting template, not only for developing models of practice, but for influencing the formulation of policy and the education of students in initial training or as part of continuing professional development.

Secondary schools in increasing numbers have been exploring nurture group intervention as a means of reducing exclusion, promoting educational engagement and transforming troubled lives. Here David Colley, co-author of the Boxall Profile for Young People (2010), offers guidance to school staff on the key steps to setting up a successful nurture group in the secondary school.

Some researchers argue that teachers of children with Special Educational Needs (SEN) have one of the most stressful occupations in the modern world. As pointed out by this research, high-stress jobs can lead to the phenomenon of ‘burnout’. When teachers suffer from burnout, it affects not only them, it also brings about negative consequences to the organisations that they are members of and more significantly, the students that they teach. Nonetheless, no teacher can be said to experience the same level of burnout. Some, in fact, are able to avoid feelings of burnout altogether. Researchers suggest that an investigation of teachers' perceptions of their jobs should be carried out before formulating initiatives aimed at preventing teacher burnout. The main aim of this chapter is to explore similar perceptions of Thai teachers of children with social, emotional and behavioural difficulties (SEBD). Educators, who present low levels of burnout based on the Job Burnout Inventory, were interviewed in order to explore their perceptions. The chapter discusses their responses with regards to their professional work, particularly areas relating to what they see as the positive aspects of teaching children with SEBD as well as the coping strategies that they applied to manage stressful situations.

The term “socially disadvantaged pupils” defines those children from family environments that have low social and economic standards and are potentially endangered by socially pathological phenomena. Romani children make up the largest such group in the Czech Republic. Whereas in the 1991 census 33,489 Romani declared their Romani nationality, only 11,746 did so in the 2001 census, representing only approximately 0.3% of the total population. In fact the actual numbers are higher, as many hesitate to declare their Romani nationality for various reasons. NGOs estimate there are about 275,000 Romani, which represents approximately 2.7% of the total population. Czech law forbids public administration institutions (which include schools) to maintain evidence of national minorities, or to obtain, administer or make use of personal data that is somehow related to national minority inclusion. The authors attempted to analyze the circumstances of Romani pupils both in schools and families. The data was gained through all involved parties: Romani assistants, as well as teachers and students tutoring Romani families during the course of the Home Tutor project. This approach allowed us to view the problems of Romani pupil education in its natural background. The analysis is presented in the form of open coding; it describes key categories that were identified, using longer text analysis

This chapter reviews the interaction between local authority services and Gypsy, Roma and Traveller (GRT) community with a primary focus on Elective Home Education (EHE). A small-scale case study is presented, based around semi-structured interviews with members of the GRT community and educational professionals in order to identify factors influencing the uptake of EHE within the GRT community. Analysis of the primary qualitative and secondary quantitative data suggests that Learning Mentors have had some impact upon the uptake of education and there appears to have been fewer referrals to the Children Missing Education (CME) team. However, the GRT community seems entrenched in its view of not accepting formal school education as appropriate for its teenage members, particularly young women. The GRT community is considered a patriarchal society, with women having culturally defined roles from an early age. The cultural value placed upon education often limits access to educational opportunities for most secondary aged GRT young people and this historical attitude is likely to continue through future generations.

This study indicates the need for further research in several areas; alternative educational provision for GRT young people, the need for a more flexible approach to education by schools, the inclusion of GRT parents in their children's education and the involvement of more agencies to offer support to the GRT community.

This chapter explores issues around children's voice, physical education and social, emotional and behavioural difficulties (SEBD) in England. Research has previously highlighted the physical, social, effective and cognitive benefits of participation in physical education (PE) (Bailey, 2006). Furthermore, practical, physical and expressive creative experiences in education have been cited as being an important constituent when educating children with SEBD (Cole & Visser, 1998). However, research has yet to address the experiences of the child with SEBD alongside the ideological benefits of their participation in PE. After a period of sensitisation to the field, in a number of pilot schools, a total of 24 weeks were spent immersed in the cultures of two mainstream schools in the West of England. After six weeks of local familiarisation, during which field notes and research diaries were kept, weekly interviews with each of six case study participants commenced. This process resulted in an intensely interactive and personal process of engagement (Sparkes, 1994) which was at times magnified when working in a PE environment. In this research, a PE environment afforded opportunities to spend time and build trust through co-participation in the negotiation of socially constructed roles in the subject. The six case study participants whose experiences have been studied make reference to, amongst others, their affinity towards the physical nature of PE, the perception of it being a subject allowing for freedoms not found elsewhere in the curriculum and one which cemented both the positive and negative social systems in relation to their relationships with peers. Inductive processes of analysis utilising constant comparison methods between data sources have generated data which shows signs of both the idiosyncratic nature of multiple truths and some common ground in their experiences.

This chapter examines a training programme for facilitators of the ‘A Quiet Place’ project in three residential homes offering space for between 8 and 10 children up to the age of 18. It reviews the impact of a 12-month training programme which involves action learning in the trainees' own personal development, creativity and job satisfaction. It examines the hypothesis of whether the calibre of the person working with young people with a variety of ‘labels’ is a key variable in the successful impact of any intervention. The approach outlined interventions combine the latest in modern brain research with more traditional approaches. A key component of the programme is the training of staff to be able to deliver the programmes for themselves. The trainees reported, quite soon into their programmes, that they notice personal growth; this was not originally an outcome of the training as such. As they noticed a change in themselves, they also noticed change in the children and young people with whom they worked. Changes in the cultures of the homes brought more benefits as one change built upon the next. The case histories trace the journey of three facilitators, the ups and downs, finally ‘getting it’ and achieving their goal with all the wonderful surprises and skills that they developed and learnt to use as part of their own lives outside work.

This chapter discusses the issue of those young people who upon leaving compulsory education at age 16 in England do not progress into further education, training or employment and are known as NEETs. It elucidates possible causes of NEETs and the characteristics of those classed as NEET. A particular intervention programme, Learning Independence for Future Transition (LIFT), is described as developed and implemented in a Pupil Referral Unit (PRU) and some evaluative comments offered.

This chapter begins with a review of the theoretical basis for using peer massage in the classroom. Reference is made to the early work of John Bowlby (1956) and Abraham Maslow (1943) as well as recent ideas about the importance of schools' nurturing pupils' social and emotional development. The second part of the chapter describes how peer massage works in the classroom and school setting. Finally, there is a review of several studies which have evaluated the impact of peer massage and a suggestion that further, more in-depth evaluation is needed.

This chapter argues that, if pupils experiencing SEBD are to be able regulate their behaviour, it is essential for them to be perceived as being able to exercise agency, no matter how their difficulties are conceptualised. It also makes the case that, if we are to effect lasting change, it is necessary to impact at the level of values and beliefs, helping young people to come to an understanding of themselves and their relationships with others. The focus of the chapter is a case study evaluating a group work approach (Support groups), designed and implemented by the author, to support such pupils within a Scottish secondary school, situated in an area of multiple deprivation. The chapter examines the extent to which pupils participating within the intervention developed the capacity to regulate their behaviour with good judgement in a range of contexts, identifying variables which fostered or impeded progress. The study is principally qualitative but draws also from quantitative data. It focuses upon four cohorts of Support group pupils (N=69), inclusive of six case studies. The findings indicate that the intervention had impacted positively upon the capacity of the young people to self-regulate their behaviour, if to varying extents, and that pupil outcomes were highly context related. A range of factors came into play in effecting improvements in self-regulation in young people, such as the capacity of the Support group Leader to ‘see the good’ in the young person and hold onto them through difficult times. The quality of relationships between pupils and their Support group Leaders emerged as key as did the ethos of the group, providing an emotionally safe environment in which pupils could communicate without fear of reprisals.

Since the start of formalised education for all, there has been much discussion about the nature of the bond between pupil and school. The school holds particular functions for society: to credential, to contain and to shape the citizens of the future. One much discussed function is the influence of school on the morality and behaviour of young people. With the bond to school – as a conforming institution – being claimed as essential for controlling delinquent drives, this chapter explores from a different perspective the dimensions of the nature of the bond between pupil and school and how it affects behaviour. The chapter integrates academic paradigm and theory as well as professional practice in previously separate fields: criminology, education and psychotherapy. Sociological concepts such as Hirschi's bond to conformity (1969) are revisited from a psychotherapeutic standpoint, thus leading to an expansion of the concept to incorporate pupils’ perceptions of the bond. This is defined as a sense of belonging.

Little has been published in relation to girls and SEBD. This chapter examines outcomes from a project between university academic staff and a specialist provision for girls excluded because of behaviour difficulties. Particular focus is upon the development of identity via engagement with creative projects involving prose, poetry and the visual arts. The chapter provides vivid illustrations of the potential of girls labelled with SEBD to be so much more than that. Furthermore, it illustrates how schools can creatively form themselves to be a good fit for their students. As adults working with young people, it is as well to remember that we need to create opportunities within learning communities to review identities in transition and to capture the dynamic sense of self. The authors concur with Carrington (2007) that developing the opportunities and skills ‘with which to participate and transform one's life path’ is central to social inclusion. This applies to all young people particularly those caught up in specialist BESD/SEBD provision.

Disruptive and potentially unsafe classroom behaviours such as threatening, bullying, verbal and/or physical assaulting present challenges not only for teachers, aides and other students in the classroom, but potentially for all others in the building as well as the families of those students/pupils involved. These behaviours can greatly influence a student's ability to achieve academic success as well as place undue stress and risk on others in the milieu.

Discovering the cause for the behaviours and then developing a plan to help these young people succeed emotionally will greatly increase the probability for improved academic achievement. This chapter will examine the core principles of the Therapeutic Crisis Intervention for Schools (TCIS) programme and present a range of evidence-based responses designed to help build upon and further develop staff skills in preventing disruptive behaviours, de-escalating potential disruptive behaviours, and teach students how to develop less disruptive and more appropriate responses to their lack of or inability to self-regulate.

This chapter will contend that the foundation for all interventions and responses presupposes an accurate assessment of risk for the youth(s), the adults, and the environment. That any risk assessment must consider the internal (effects of trauma, ability to self-regulate, cultural issues) and external (organizational culture/climate, level of restrictiveness, caring community, quality of instruction) setting conditions for the youth.

The TCIS programme is embedded in the five domains for effective crisis management; leadership and building support, social work and clinical services participation (social workers, psychologists, therapists, nurses), building administration and post crisis response, training and competency standards, and data-driven incident monitoring and feedback.

While extreme forms of behaviour such as the use of guns within a school setting are rare events, they have profound impacts on school communities, their staff, parents and students. This chapter sets out to place such incidents in perspective and explores these issues within an American context. Various check lists are examined with a view to providing insights into the characteristics of young people driven to such violent acts and to providing some points of reflection which could lead to prevention of them. These reflections should be based upon an understanding that these young people are a product of school systems which need to change to ensure that they mitigate the effects of poor social experiences.

This chapter explores the simultaneous effects of the independent variables of social cognition (social information processing) and of self-esteem/global self-worth on clinically and research-derived measures of problem behaviour in children aged 8–12 (dependent variables). The specific aims are to develop and test a school-based standardised model for better screening of SEBDs in Greece in children 8–12 years old and analyse in-depth the inferred patterns of mental processing of SEBD-screened children from the data collected in one-on-one interviews. The hypothesis is that groups of particular children will emerge that share similar characteristics in their social information processing styles and their proposed reactions to challenging social interactions. Evidently, these findings could lead to a suggestive discussion of school-based approaches to interventions.

The study presents evidence for this hypothesis, suggesting the existence of three separate groups in the sample. The sample included 240 children assigned in two groups, the experimental and the control, each containing 120 closely matched cases. The exploratory analysis of the outcomes reveals an identified mental processing bias in attributing causality and in behaviour response selection that is consistent enough to suggest the bias may be as organised in the brain as a ‘hard-wired’ function.

Existing research indicates that internationally adopted children exhibit elevated rate of emotional and behavioral difficulties. They are explained by the effects of early trauma, disturbed attachment, institutionalized behavior, and delays in cognitive development. Early interventions, therefore, focus on medical screening and cognitive testing, while adjustment aspect of early period for the entire family is neglected. The role of adoptive family is viewed as that of rehabilitation, its role as an active agent of change is ignored or underestimated.

The approach grounded in family system theory and focused on the family process is effective for resolution of child's difficulties. This chapter demonstrates that early intervention centered on mutual adjustment of the family and the child prevents escalation of child's emotional tension, defiant behavior, and formation of rigid patterns of family interactions and psychopathology in children. It leads to behavioral improvements, and builds a foundation for lasting relationship. Therapy for American families and their school-age adopted children from Russia was simultaneously conducted in two languages by a bilingual psychologist, a native Russian speaker. Principles of such intervention are formulated: (1) The form of intervention is a dialogue between all family members. It facilitates safe self-expression and eases overwhelming emotions. (2) Child's behavior is understood within a framework of adjustment to a transition, associated with experience of novelty and loss. To prevent complications of unresolved grief, the child's loss is identified and acknowledged. (3) Changes that effect existing family system (such as adoptive siblings) and cause tensions are addressed. (4) Certain problematic behaviors and their former adaptive function are reframed and thus normalized within a context of child's culture. (5) In the process, history of child's life unfolds, integrating the past and the present, facilitating continuity of memory, and preventing disruption of identity.

This chapter examines a development of the Social and Emotional Aspects of Learning (SEAL) material into a programme designed to empower schools to work in partnership with parents to help children and young people to be happy and successful in school. It provides evidence to suggest that the programme called Family Works has a significant impact on children's learning and consequently their attainment. There is also evidence that children's behaviour improves across all contexts and that there are positive gains in the development of social and emotional skills of the children engaged in the programme. Aspects of the programme are described in action within primary schools.

Drastic reductions in financial and personal support for public education over the last years in Germany seem to open gateways to ‘new’ acceptance of punishment in the realm of pedagogy. This ‘discourse’ is clandestine in theory, hidden from the public but real in institutions of the child and young people welfare system. They intensify the penalisation of their ‘drop-out’ clientele. The special schools for pupils with social, emotional and behavioural difficulties (SEBD) tend to act in that way, too. Particularly children and young people living in poverty are on the agenda of this new trend to penalise ‘deviant’ behaviour.

Programmes, trainings and drills are available. They are meant to help social workers and teacher in their position with new aims and functions. In their daily routine, most of them are overburdened and overloaded, because classes are overfilled and the number of families in the communal welfare system is growing rapidly, due to the so-called ‘Hartz IV’ legislative for unemployed families. This new trend is also a market place for the media; they launched an emergency call on education.

Some punitive praxis is contradictory to the human rights and the children rights, so that all professors for SEBD in Germany published a public declaration against the breaking up of the agreement of an education without violence. There is no empirical evidence for any positive outcome of such ‘pedagogy’. Despite all ‘modern’ promises, working with fear, anxiety, shame and punishment doesn't pay in the long run.

This chapter clarifies the relationship between socio-economic development and this ‘law and order’ pedagogy, the loss of professional standards and the psychodynamic consequences for pupils labelled as ‘deviant’.

Cover of Transforming Troubled Lives: Strategies and Interventions for Children with Social, Emotional and Behavioural Difficulties
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International Perspectives on Inclusive Education
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Emerald Publishing Limited
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