Young researchers in schools: a participative action research study into the efficacy of a whole school mental health strategy

McPartlan, David (2023) Young researchers in schools: a participative action research study into the efficacy of a whole school mental health strategy. Doctoral thesis, University of Cumbria.

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In England between April and June of 2021, 190,271 young people were referred to mental health services, an increase of 134% since June 2020 (Local Government Association, 2022). Since 2014, schools have been expected to support young people’s mental health needs (Department for Education, 2014). This qualitative work critically explores the efficacy of a whole school mental health strategy, in a comprehensive academy in England. As participative action research (PAR), this approach involved self-selecting young people aged 16-18 years old to collaborate with me as a young research team (YRT). They worked closely with the study participants, aged 12-15 years, who volunteered from the pupil premium cohort (The Department for Education, 2022). A weekly cycle of meetings between myself, the YRT and participants took place, providing qualitative data. This research focuses on a school mental health strategy and new approaches to young people’s participation in school decision-making. My findings and contributions to knowledge are divided into two sections. Firstly, I present findings that indicate a school mental health strategy requires trusting staff / young people relationships to be successful. As a further contribution, I suggest relationships are viewed through a nanosystems lens (Rudasill et al., 2018), so schools can start to address this issue. My second area contributing to new knowledge is how this unique methodology has enabled the development of youth participative dialogic action research (YPDAR). I have discovered how using YPDAR can positively impact young people and school character. YPDAR benefits young people as attachment-like relationships may develop between young researchers and participants. In addition to improving young people’s socio-emotional skills, this research can boost their confidence, empowerment, agency and trust in the school. School character also benefits, as YPDAR requires a power shift from school to young people, strengthening relationships and the development of trust between them.

Item Type: Thesis/Dissertation (Doctoral)
Departments: Institute of Health > Psychology and Psychological Therapies
Additional Information: This thesis is submitted for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy to the University of Cumbria, Institute of Health, August 2023, word count: 81,650.
Depositing User: Anna Lupton
Date Deposited: 26 Aug 2023 11:42
Last Modified: 13 Jan 2024 15:16


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