Listen to Me!: The Voices of Pupils with Emotional and Behavioural Difficulties (EBD)


Susan Wise

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    This book is dedicated to Pat.


    I would like to thank Christi for encouraging me throughout the writing of this book, Graham Upton for his support and advice in completing the research and finally the pupils who gave me their time and thoughts.

  • Conclusion

    I carried out this research project because there appeared to be little evidence of studies attempting to explore the perceptions of pupils with EBD of the many factors that may possibly have influenced their behaviour and lives. I set out to allow pupils who had struggled in the mainstream setting to give free responses to questions regarding the range of factors that may have influenced them and their behaviour. I hoped that my results could have implications both for preventing certain behaviours in schools and also for the nature of the support offered to pupils who struggle in that setting. This book is the culmination of my endeavours. Since I carried out this project there has been a growing interest in this field and it appears that seeking pupil perspectives is gaining more and more momentum. I simply hope that my contribution can make a small difference in our ability to support children who struggle in schools and help them to meet their true potential.


    Each of the trigger questions was designed to elicit pupil perspectives that would be pertinent to one of the areas of enquiry. The five areas of enquiry were proposed using information gained from an extensive review of the literature and previous research concerning various aspects of the behaviour of pupils with emotional and behavioural difficulties, including theoretical proposals. From this review emerged a number of recurrent themes pertaining to the behaviour of pupils with EBD, particularly relating to their experiences of schooling. These topical issues represent important areas that appear to influence the pupils' behaviour and are in many ways associated with the various systems that impact on that behaviour. Thus in order to allow some degree of focus on these relevant topical themes, they were utilised in the construction of the five areas of enquiry. It was anticipated that by allocating pupil statements to each of these areas of enquiry that the data could then be further analysed to provide a richer source of information relevant to significant issues reflected in and currently being raised in the literature.

    Analysis of the pupil interview data was effectively carried out in three stages with an increasing degree of focus on the data at each stage. Firstly, a collating of statements for the areas of enquiry was carried out, with all pupil statements that were considered in any way relevant or insightful to a particular area of enquiry being selected. Secondly, statements were scrutinised more closely to ensure that they were appropriately assigned to an area, which was followed by a further analysis of these statements to identify different themes that were emerging. Finally, a further refinement and expansion of these emerging themes and preliminary ideas was undertaken, with a particular emphasis on placing them and the present research within the framework and context of previous and current literature and research concerned with the behaviour of pupils with EBD.

    The questions used during the interviews as they related to each area of enquiry are as follows:

    The history and nature of the pupils' schooling difficulties

    • What are your earliest memories of school?
    • Can you remember when you first had difficulties of any kind in school?
    • Can you describe the problems that you experienced?

    Aspects of school and schooling associated with the pupils' difficulties

    • Can you talk about the sorts of things that happened in school that you found difficult or that were a problem for you?

    The significance of social, family or life events in the pupils' difficulties

    • Do you think that your problems in school have anything to do with your life or things that have happened out of school?
    • What would you describe as the most important things that have happened to you in your life so far?

    The psychological or physiological aspects of the pupils' difficulties and their attitudes to treatment or professional support

    • How would you describe yourself to someone who didn't know you?
    • Can you tell me about any help or support that you have had from people?
    • How do you feel about having been placed in a special school?

    The behaviour of the pupils in response to their difficulties

    • When you were having difficulties or problems in school what did you do or how did you behave?
    • Can you say anything about why you behaved in certain ways?
    • Do you blame anyone or anything in particular for your behaviour and placement in a special school?
    • Why do you think you are in a special school?


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