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The development, transmission and enactment of policy messages in complex adaptive educational systems: Exploring schools’ implementation and pupil experiences of mental health and wellbeing interventions in Welsh primary schools

Jennings, Stephen 2021. The development, transmission and enactment of policy messages in complex adaptive educational systems: Exploring schools’ implementation and pupil experiences of mental health and wellbeing interventions in Welsh primary schools. PhD Thesis, Cardiff University.
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Abstract

Primary schools are increasingly regarded as appropriate settings for intervening in the mental health and wellbeing (MHWB) of pupils, facing pressures from across educational systems to deliver effective provision. However, evaluations reveal that where some school based MHWB interventions achieve their intended outcomes, many still produce neutral to small effects, and in some cases, unintended and negative effects. Limitations arguably reflect inadequate attention to school context and the lack of co-production in intervention development. Researchers suggest increasing focus on systemic and school contexts will facilitate improved understanding of how the implementation of interventions can be effective and sustained over time. This thesis adopted a systems-wide perspective on school-based MHWB interventions by exploring the origin of policy messages, how they are developed and transmitted from key stakeholders, subsequently enacted by school staff and experienced by pupils. The thesis utilised a case study at the national level, delineated into regional, community and school cases. Interviews were conducted with key stakeholders from across all levels of provision. Findings propose conceptual confusion exists regarding policy messages developed by policy, regional and community stakeholders. Tensions are evident in intervention strategy and assessment, leading to policy hyperactivity in the development of messages and subsequent transmission to schools. Schools self-organise, and develop contextually-relevant intervention practices, orienting toward strategy messages preferred by ‘school collaborators’, notably mid-level policy actors with frequent contact with schools, who foreground the importance of socio-environmental factors over behavioural strategies. Pupils experience MHWB interventions more positively when developed in accordance with school collaborators’ strategies, with most rejecting interventions with behavioural foundations. Future policy should be co-produced in collaboration with stakeholders across all levels of provision in educational supra-systems, particularly school collaborators, staff and pupils, and should reflect inter-school contextual variation. Co-produced, contextually-relevant policies are more likely to provide schools with clearer guidance to enact MHWB policy messages and implement interventions acceptable to staff and pupils.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Date Type: Completion
Status: Unpublished
Schools: Development and Evaluation of Complex Interventions for Public Health Improvement (DECIPHer)
Social Sciences (Includes Criminology and Education)
Subjects: H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
H Social Sciences > HM Sociology
H Social Sciences > HT Communities. Classes. Races
L Education > L Education (General)
Funders: HCRW
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 11 June 2021
Last Modified: 18 Jun 2021 11:31
URI: http://orca.cardiff.ac.uk/id/eprint/141883

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