A Narrative Analysis of Young People with Experiences of Trauma, Poverty and Turbulent Educational Journeys

Lead Research Organisation: University of Bath
Department Name: Education


Research Questions
1. How does the process of exclusion from school affect educational motivation?
2. How does attending a Pupil Referral Unit (PRU) affect educational motivation?
3. How does potential reintegration into mainstream school affect educational motivation?

Excluded pupils who attend PRUs have a high-risk of educational failure, only 1.4% of PRU pupils achieve 5 A*-C GCSEs (Martin & White, 2012). The consequences of educational failure include: higher rates of unemployment (Caspi, Wright, Moffitt & Silva, 1998; Felstead & Green, 2013), higher rates of depression (Harrington, 2001), greater chance of criminal involvement (Savolainen et al, 2015), high probability of intergenerational issues (Escarce, 2003; Plewis & Bartley, 2014), and higher rates of health risk behaviours (Gruber & Machamer, 2000).

The collaborative partner for this study will be Inner-city youth charity, that works with youth with complex challenges relating to home life and education. This includes young people who have been excluded and attend PRUs.
A long-standing relationship exists with the charity including previous employment designing an educational intervention with another university partnership. The charity and this research share a common goal: to help young people avoid educational failure by understanding educational motivation and developing effective interventions.

This study uses qualitative methods to explore motivation in excluded pupils. A longitudinal approach, covering an academic year aims to follow changing levels of motivation through exclusion, attending a PRU and potentially reintegrating into mainstream education. The sample group of up to 20 will be identified from the charity's mentoring programme with the aim of ensuring a complete data set from at least 10 participants (with 4 interviews per participant). Participant profiles will be created using the reference data on file. Semi-structured interviews will be used to address the research questions in relation to SDT. If required, each interview can be split into three short interviews to allow participants with communication difficulties (ADHD, PTSD, trauma) to communicate effectively.
Narrative analysis will be used to analyse the data and a reflexive journal will record decisions, and their justifications, to provide strong evidence of validity (Creswell & Miller, 2000).

The study will take in total 3 years: 1st year for literature review, project design, building relationships (charity and participants), and to start the data collection. 2nd year will continue data collection (18 months is allocated for data collection as the mentoring project has a rolling intake) and 3rd year for analysis and writing up the project.
This research is important to improve the life opportunities of disadvantaged young people and to reduce the impact of educational failure on the individual and public purse. Clearer understanding of the motivation behind educational failure, will undoubtedly help identify better interventions.
This study builds on the foundation of quantitative research by using qualitative methods to increase the depth of understanding into the complexities of motivation amongst excluded pupils. This information will be used to inform future research and policy concerning the best way to encourage disadvantaged young people to engage well with their education and enjoy the life-long rewards and opportunities it creates.


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Studentship Projects

Project Reference Relationship Related To Start End Student Name
ES/P000630/1 01/10/2017 30/09/2027
1931651 Studentship ES/P000630/1 01/10/2017 31/03/2021 Abigail Emmins Marchant