Identifying and Responding to Child Neglect in Schools in Wales: PhD Thesis. Cardiff University.

Research output: Other contributionPhD thesis (not Bristol)

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Schools are pivotal sites for identifying and responding to child neglect due to their universal positioning within the community. This thesis presents an investigation into how schools respond to concerns of child neglect which is the most common reason a child is placed on the child protection register in Wales. Findings from the study contribute new understanding about the nature and level of support delivered by a range of staff in mainstream schools. The study employs an explanatory two-phase design comprising analysis of quantitative and qualitative methods across three local authorities in Wales.
The study’s design sits across three levels of service intervention, from the early identification of neglect in schools as universal services, the implementation of preventative and voluntary multi-agency support, through to the school’s level of involvement in the statutory child protection process. The first phase of the study analyses quantitative data drawn from documents held on social work case files (n=119) in three authorities. The second phase employs thematic analysis of semi-structured interviews undertaken with a variety of staff in six schools from teaching and non-teaching roles (n=30), together with non-participant observation of school-based decision-making practice (n=5).
Findings highlight the complexity which surrounds child neglect and draw attention to the difficulty of merging two multifaceted systems within one narrative. The first phase identifies the problematic nature of the case file data as a result of intricate social work processes, varying cultures of recording, and large amounts of missing data. In the second phase differences between the two fields of responsibility emerge emphasising the often-messy practice reality of inter-professional working. This thesis makes an original contribution to understanding the challenges which exist for schools when responding to child neglect. The findings have important implications for future policy and practice in the delivery of school-based service provision, and social work practice with schools when working with children who are living with neglect.
Original languageEnglish
TypePhD Thesis
PublisherCardiff University
Number of pages334
Publication statusUnpublished - 9 Oct 2018


  • Child Neglect
  • Schools
  • Inter-Professional Work
  • Education
  • Social Work
  • Identify
  • Responses


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