“I don’t know what ready was, but I just knew I wasn’t.”
: An Interpretative Phenomenological Inquiry into the Reintegration Experiences of Young People with Social, Emotional and Mental Health Needs

  • Kerry L Gibson

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Educational Psychology (DEdPsy)


Reintegration is a type of educational transition that can facilitate inclusion by supporting young people who have been permanently excluded to return to mainstream school. Many young people with SEMH needs who experience permanent exclusion attend pupil referral units before reintegrating back into mainstream school.

The broad aim of this study was to explore the experiences of young people with SEMH needs who have reintegrated from a pupil referral unit to a mainstream secondary school. The research questions asked; how do young people who have reintegrated into mainstream from a pupil referral unit make sense of their experience? How does a young person's sense of self change in the context of the transition to mainstream school? And what role can professionals play in supporting young people who reintegrate to develop positive identities?

Data was collected through semi-structured interviews with four participants. Participants also completed visual timelines during interviews to support their thinking. Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis (IPA) was employed as a methodological framework and a method of analysis. Four overarching themes emerged as significant to participants’ experiences. These included; the meanings ascribed to reintegration; factors impacting on agency; sense of self and school connectedness. Findings were discussed regarding how each overarching theme and corresponding subthemes relate to extant literature on reintegration and inclusion and psychological theories on concepts such as transition and identity development.

Implications for further research and Educational Psychology practice are discussed. Suggestions are made in terms of a good practice guide for practitioners working to support young people with SEMH needs around reintegration. To promote the accessibility of this written account to a wide audience, including children and young people who are interested in research on this topic; plain language summaries of the key points of each chapter can be found at the end of chapters one to five.
Date of Award28 Nov 2019
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Bristol
SupervisorJak L Lee (Supervisor) & Amanda J Gaulter (Supervisor)

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