Designated Teachers Experiences of Supporting Unaccompanied Asylum-Seeking Children within Secondary Schools
: An Interpretive Phenomenological Analysis.

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Educational Psychology (DEdPsy)


This small-scale, qualitative research study aimed to explore the lived experiences of five Designated Teachers when supporting Unaccompanied Asylum-Seeking Children. It is hoped that the findings of this study will aid current understandings regarding if, and how, Educational Psychologists could best support Designated Teachers in their role.
Semi-structured interviews were employed to flexibly guide discussions with participants regarding their lived experiences, with particular attention paid to what they found to be supportive and challenging in their role. The data gathered from these interviews were analysed using Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis (IPA), which promotes an in-depth understanding of participants’ unique lived experiences by exploring their thoughts, views, and feelings about these experiences (Smith, 2011).
Four Group Experiential Themes were identified: ‘Making Sense of Unaccompanied Asylum-Seeking Children’s Lived Experiences’, ‘Manifestation of Hearing Unaccompanied Asylum-Seeking Children’s Lived Experiences’, ‘Support in Managing the Role’ and ‘Ways of Coping’. These Group Experiential Themes, and their respective sub-themes, are illustrated using participants’ quotes and, later, discussed in relation to broad literature in order to allow for a critical engagement of the current study’s findings.
Whilst participants each had unique stories, they tended to experience the role as a process of attempting to make sense of Unaccompanied Asylum-Seeking Children’s lived experiences, which was supported by their knowledge of ‘trauma’, whilst also appreciating Unaccompanied Asylum-Seeking Children’s ‘resilience’. With participants reportedly being exposed to trauma narratives, participants discussed how they perceived their role as impactful on their personal lives, emotions, and perceptions, in both positive and negative ways. To aid participants in managing the role, they also discussed the perceived support, or lack thereof, from their colleagues, external professionals, friends, and family. With participants reporting perceived limited emotional support received in their role, participants discussed how they subsequently employed a range of coping mechanisms in attempts to manage and/or minimise the impact of the role on the self. These findings help inform implications for Educational Psychology professional practice and future research.
Date of Award5 Dec 2023
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • The University of Bristol
SupervisorJak L Lee (Supervisor) & Pauline Heslop (Supervisor)

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