[Thesis]. Manchester, UK: The University of Manchester; 2013.
The educational achievement and well-being of looked after children are a priority
nationally and locally. The majority of looked after children enter the care system
due to abuse and neglect and foster care is the most common placement type (DfE, 2012).
Early experience of abuse and neglect is associated with changes to development in
the frontal brain regions resulting in executive function difficulty. Executive functions
are a collection of interrelated but distinct functions with responsibility for purposeful,
goal-directed, problem-solving behaviour (Gioia, Isquith, Guy, & Kenworthy, 2000).
Evidence of neural plasticity in the prefrontal cortex suggests executive function
development can be supported. The two main methods of support are computer based training,
such as in working memory training which yields immediate gains but may not be sustained
or generalised (Melby-LervĂĄg & Hulme, 2013) and ecological executive function interventions,
which are promising but are mainly used with pre-school samples (Bryck & Fisher, 2012).Parental
involvement in childrenâ€™s education is promoted nationally (DCSF, 2008) and valued
by carers (Cooper & Johnson, 2007). Consultations between carers and professionals
can indirectly support fostered children (Osborne & Alfano, 2011) but few studies
have evaluated the use of consultation to support executive function development in
fostered children (Lansdown, Burnell, & Allen, 2007). A multiple case-study design,
with embedded units of analysis, was adopted to qualitatively explore the implementation
processes and outcomes of a school-based intervention that adapted conjoint behavioural
consultation (CBC) (Sheridan & Kratochwill, 2007) to support executive function development
of children in foster care. Both cases consisted of a school-aged fostered child,
living in the north west of England, with prior experience of abuse and/or neglect.
The participants across cases were two educators and three carers and data gathering
consisted of semi-structured interviews and participant-observation. Data analysis
utilised thematic analysis (Braun & Clarke, 2006) and a cross-case analysis (Yin,
2009) identified common themes alongside themes pertinent to each case. The findings
indicate that an adapted CBC retains the relational objectives which are received
positively by participants but outcome objectives are more variable. The limitations
of the study and the implications for educational psychologists, stakeholders, and
future research are highlighted.