Primary school children at academic risk : a qualitative study of an educational psychology schools-based indirect service delivery strategy

Master Thesis


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University of Cape Town

This study aims to locally contextualize and critically evaluate a PARENT COUNSELLOR ASSISTANCE (PCA) programme implemented in a local primary school. The programme investigated the possibility of providing an appropriate schools-based indirect service in the form of a consultation and counsellor assistance programme. This included reflecting on a consultative role of the educational psychologist as being a more appropriate role in keeping with the demands for a new unitary educational dispensation in South Africa. The design and methodology of the study was informed by the C.I.P.P (Context, Input, Process and Product) evaluation model (Stufflebeam, 1971) employed to assist in the evaluation of educational programmes. It focussed on using systematic early detection and screening procedures to identify children academically at risk. Parent Counsellor Assistants trained in non-directive play therapy were then matched individually with these children and worked with them on a weekly basis over a period of seven months. The educational psychologist acted as consultant to the programme in line with an indirect service delivery strategy. Data was collected through recorded observations of meetings, discussions, feedback sessions, consultations, questionnaires and informal contacts. Connors Behaviour Rating Scales were periodically completed by various participants and the Parent Counsellor Assistants maintained diaries of play therapy sessions. Children's drawings were also used where possible, to reflect on any positive developmental indicators emerging. Data analysis attempted to document the autopoetic development of the programme as it unfolded within the structure of the CIPP model, and within essentially a systemic perspective. The findings were that the PCA programme was successfully implemented as an indirect service delivery strategy. Parents working in partnership with teachers, supervised by a consulting educational psychologist, were able to assist primary school children at academic risk in coping more adequately with their school life. The programme was written for educators and allied groups interested in finding new strategies to service the needs of a rapidly changing educational system in South Africa, specifically in respect of special education services. Parent based indirect service delivery models using educational psychologists as consultants seems an appropriate strategy to service these needs.

Bibliography: pages 153-160.