Description inclusive practice’. With this, the EYIT attend children

Description of the Project

Early
Years Inclusion Team (EYIT) helps playgroups, nurseries, childminders and other
early years settings wherein they encourage in promoting ‘high quality
inclusive practice’. With this, the EYIT attend children with special
educational needs such as giving interventions even to those children who may
be at risk of delay and providing training opportunities to support staff
(Inclusion Team 2016a). This is in sync with Every Child Matters (2007a)
wherein professionals involved in working with children and young people should
have staff training and development promoting culture change which enables them
to have an effective multi-disciplinary work. The EYIT and other support
services professional in early years settings are looking for a ‘sustainable,
evidence-based approach to enabling more children with autism spectrum disorder
and social communication difficulties to be more effectively included in their
mainstream settings.’ Thus, they come up with a programme that they offer for
early years that is Attention Hillingdon.

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Attention
Hillingdon, an 8-week training programme, which is based on the Attention
Autism model by Gina Davies who is highly experienced speech and language
therapy specialist (Foundation Years 2015) focuses on improving children with
social communication difficulties (SCD) and with autism spectrum disorder (ASD)
on their attention, communication, and independence. I like how this approach
encourages parental involvement so as suggesting a continual approach wherein
practitioners could implement. This intervention pronounce to give the
participants ‘an irresistible invitation to look and therefore to learn’. The
practitioners will plan and design activities which are ‘highly visual,
dynamic, fun, and enticing’.

With
parental consent, children who could gain in developing their attention and
receptive domain are invited such as with autism. At the same time, parents of
these children are invited to attend and participate in pre- and post-project
meetings at which point they can receive weekly tips on how they can assist
their children at home. This relates to Integrated front-line delivery in which
parents and carers should have better information and so as to access support
when needed (Every Child Matter 2007b). There is also an initial training for
EYIT together with local authority professionals essentially the educational
psychologists, speech therapists, advanced skills teachers and the Autism team.

For
better outlook, we will enumerate some roles these professionals do in a daily
basis. First, child practitioners (CP) are responsible for making observations
and keeping regular records of children’s progress, meeting and planning the
needs of the children. Second are the early years inclusion facilitators (EYIF).
These are some of the their specific tasks: supporting the specific needs of
children and their families; providing training and information session to
early years practitioners; and planning, facilitating and supporting the
running of programmes to support early intervention. Third is the educational
psychologist (ED) who gives assessment for children with learning problems, offers
advice on teaching and management strategies and behaviour management, and help
in delivering an education, health, and care needs assessment. Fourth is the
speech and language therapist (SLT) who provides training for practitioners for
them to better identify and support children with SLCN, focuses on joint
working with other professionals and teams, and provides a consultative system
of support for the inclusion facilitators. Lastly, the ASD (autism spectrum
disorder) /SLC (speech language communication) specialists who support
training, monitoring, and giving feedback to interventions, ensure staffs
possess skills and knowledge to deliver effective strategies, and demonstrate
effective use of strategies and teaching models (Hillingdon.gov.uk).

With
this, a proposal to evaluate this project will be designed. It is important to
evaluate the outcomes so as the effectiveness of Attention Hillingdon programme
when it comes to increasing parents’ trust and confidence in collaborating with
other professionals involved in this programme.

Theoretical Framework

In
this evaluation proposal, social capital theory and activity theory will be
used as the theoretical framework. These two theoretical perspectives helped me
to understand the programme specifically in the collaboration aspect of the
multi-agencies and the service users. In the same manner, these theoretical
models helped me to structure this evaluation to investigate the relationship
of the service users and other professionals involved in the programme and the
possible outcome of the programme.

The Department
for Education emphasise the importance of parental involvement in any early
intervention programmes which links to better outcomes for the child. Through
social capital theory, we will understand the relationship within families and
communities (Coleman 1990 cited Hawkins and Maurer 2010a). There are three
types of social capital: bonding, bridging and linking. According to Putnam
(2000 cited Hawkins and Maurer 2010b), bonding is the relationship of similar
members in a system, while bridging refers to the relationship of different
members such as education and ethnicity. On the other hand, linking is the
degree in which members build relationships with organisations, so as to individuals
who have relative influence over them, for instance to provide access to
services or resources (Woolcock 2001, Szreter and Woolcock 2004 cited Hawkins
and Maurer 2010c). Lin and McPherson et
al. (2001 cited Hawkins and Maurer 2010d) describes bonding as ‘strongest
connection with the least valuable’ result whereas, bridging is represented as
a ‘weaker connection but produces a more valuable’ result. However, bridging
and linking indicates ‘exposure to and development of new ideas, values, and
perspectives’ on resources (Woolcock 2001, Szreter and Woolcock 2004 cited
Hawkins and Maurer 2010e).

Thinking
of how families with children with ASD and SCD are struggling and coping up
into their day-to-day life, social capital gives a light of how bonding plays a
vital role on parents seeking help and developing resiliency (Luthans et al. 2006 cited Hawkins and Maurer
2010f). Bagley and Ackerley (2006a) highlighting the use of social capital
compelling professionals to actively work together and build partnership with
parents and member of the local community. The Labour Government in UK
continues to persevere in the ‘Third Way’ policy solutions to issues (Blair
2002 cited Bagley and Ackerley 2006b), restructuring the ‘systems of provision,
the forms of organisational control and direction, and the relations between
leaders, staff and customers involved in the production and delivery of welfare
outcomes’ (Clarke et al. 2000 cited
Bagley and Ackerley 2006c).

In
this evaluation, we will see if parents had increased their confidence and
trust provided that they had bonding with other parents in the programme and
bridging on their children’s practitioners and other professionals, so as
understanding how different professionals can contribute in linking to
influential institutions to resolve existing problems.

Additionally,
utilising activity theory helped me in investigating the roles and activities
of different individuals in the system.  Looking
at the diagram of the activity theory for the first time is quite daunting, not
knowing where to start and how to understand it in a multi-agency work. Conversely,
starting to identify each component in the system, it will be easier to connect
and understand how each component can affect other components in the system. In
the case of Attention Hillingdon programme in different child settings, the parts
of the system include the subjects (children with ASD and SCD and their parents),
object (service user and multi-agency work together for child’s best outcome),
mediating artefact (Attention Hillingdon), rules (EYFS, SEND Code of Practice, ECM,
child settings’ regulation), community (other parents, child practitioners,
local authority professionals), and division of labour (how task were divided
between professionals involved) (plotted in Figure 1). Leadbetter et al. (2007a) mentioned that it is significant
to analyse ‘who the key players are within multi-agency work, and what their
different positions and perspectives entail’. In the same way, a vital part of
the investigation process is to interpret the relationships with other
professionals in diverse field in a multi-agency collaboration. Thus, bear in
mind that the expected outcome is influenced by the rules of practice, tools, division
of labour and conflicts that may arise during the collaboration (Kent et al. 2016a).

In
agreement with Leadbetter et al. (2007b), it was indicated that in the field
where diversity of profession work together, it would be useful to have a
theoretical model in research evaluation for it could provide a systematic structure
in the study. With this, it is useful to use activity theory to understand the
roles of each professional in the project and to evaluate the outcome of the
project, however, in this evaluation will be focusing on parent’s perspective.  The effectiveness and usefulness of activity
theory in the context on multi-agency work has shown relative evidences in the
research field. Leadbetter et al. (2007c)
also focused children’s services seeking to intervene in multi-agency work,
stating how activity theory is helpful in examining and discerning the
complexity of each professionals work in a team. Kent et al. (2016b) and Engestrom (2000), though in these cases it was
used in a children’s medical care, it was helpful to know how this theory can
be flexible so long as you identify from what perspective it is coming from,
what their roles and motives, and perceived outcome in the system, be it from
parents, physicians or any specialists. Research QuestionsThe
theoretical framework of this study helped me in developing my research
questions with regards to the evaluation of the programme specifically in the
collaboration aspect between the parents (the service users) and the
multi-agency professionals. Any intervention especially on early years highly
requires parents’ involvement to receive desirable outcomes (Eikeseth 2011,
Lovaas 2003 cited Eikeseth et al.
2012). Thus, training parents in this programme would help parents in
supporting their children and might increase their confidence and trust toward
other professionals dealing with their children. With
that using the social capital theory will help me more in exploring on the
relationship between the parents and the multi-agency professionals including
the child practitioners, at the same time the impact of this programme on the
collaboration. In Figure 2, we will see that if the levels of bonding (parents
and multi-agency team) social capital are high, the bridging could either strengthen
or weaken. If bridging social capital is strengthening the results of the
programme success will significantly increase through community support and
participation, organised implementation, and accomplishing programme objectives
and outcomes. On contrary, weak bridging social capital will lead to unproductive
outcome because of the issues on community frustration and mistrust which will consequently
pressure community health programmes or improve organisational trust and
collaboration. And if the later will be realised then the cycle will go on as a
bridging social capital will be strengthen.

Whereas,
using activity theory will be able to focus my investigation on the effectivity
of the programme as intervention to children with autism, to parents and to
child practitioners as well. Looking at Figure 1 which based on parents’
perspective, we will measure the effectiveness of the programme with positive
impact on children with ASD and SCD using Attention Hillingdon as mediating
tool considering the other factors plotted on the system that could affect the
objective which is the collaboration of parents and other professionals
involved toward children’s best outcome.This
evaluation is for the early years settings to realise the impact of this
intervention programme to parents and other professionals dealing with children
with ASD and SCD. With that, the following research questions have been
devised:How did the parental involvement build trust
and confidence in the collaboration process using the Attention Hillingdon
programme?Applying
the social capital theory, we will be evaluating parent’s relationship through
looking at their confidence and trust when working together with other
professionals. I want to look if their ‘bonding’ with other parents during the
training increases their confidence as a parent especially in dealing with
different professionals. In the same manner, I want to investigate if parental
involvement in this programme will build their trust on different
professionals, that as they ‘bridge’ did their relationship improved or lead to
mistrust and frustration as referred illustrated in Figure 2.How does this programme affect the
collaboration between service users and multi-agency professionals?Still
using the social capital as a structure of this part of evaluation, we will
evaluate the relationship of the parents toward child practitioners and other
professionals (bridging), and if these professionals and practitioners could
link to other significant organisations as problems develop. Bearing in mind
that with different roles, background and personalities conflicts may arise,
but as mention in related literature on social capital, through bridging and
linking new ideas, values and perspectives will develop (Woolcock 2001, Szreter
and Woolcock 2004 cited Hawkins and Maurer 2010g).Based on the outcome on children with ASD
and SCD, how effective is this programme from parent’s perspective?This question is framed through
activity theory. Focusing on the parent’s perspective, how parents perceive the
outcome on their children using Attention Hillingdon as an intervention. Using
the illustration in Figure 1, wherein Attention Hillingdon as a tool mediates
the subject which in this case is service users (parents and their children
with ASD and SCD) and the outcome that assumes the effectiveness of the programme by perceiving positive impact
on children w/ASD and SCD, and parents itself, so as to child practitioners. In
this model, we will see how rules could affect the subject and the community,
which are the parents and other professionals in this sense. Also how the
division of labour could influence the community and the outcome of this
programme.Research MethodsIn
this evaluation proposal, I am planning to use mixed method research, which is considered
as the third research paradigm in educational research (Johnson and Onwuegbuzie
2004a). Both quantitative and qualitative researches are essential and beneficial,
as mixed methods research gives practicing researchers to try explore and improve
various techniques used by other researchers in practice (Johnson and
Onwuegbuzie 2004b). Studies show that developmental scientists are becoming
more successful in applying mixed method approach especially relating to children’s
development through ‘culturally diverse’ settings (Garcia-Coll et al. 2002, Super and Harkness 1999,
Weisner 2005 cited Harkness et al. 2006a).
There
are researchers using mixed methods research involving children, parents and
inter-professional practice. Harkness et
al. (2006b) on their International Collaborative Research expressed the
efficacy of using mixed method on their experiences with the International
Study of Parents, Children and Schools (ISPCS) ‘which reduce the biases
associated with each method’, thus improve their perceptive of the ‘cultural
forces involved in child development’. According to Sandelowski (1986 cited Johnson
and Onwuegbuzie 2004c), both quantitative and qualitative researchers ‘incorporate
safeguards into their inquiries in order to minimise confirmation bias and
other sources of invalidity (or lack of trustworthiness) that have the
potential to exist in every research study’. Wilson et al. (2016a) also used mixed methods through pre-post survey
questionnaires and semi-structured interviews ‘to explore the potential
learning outcomes and factors affecting students’ learning’. Their findings
suggested that speech language therapists and primary school teachers develop ‘understanding
of professional roles and expertise, communication skills to support shared
decision-making, inter-dependency in supporting children’s learning, and
flexibility to implement alternative instructional practices’ (Wilson et al. 2016b).With
this, I planned to use mixed methods through the use of survey questionnaires
and interview. To answer the first research question, I will be using
Likert-type scale to measure broad and specific facets of parent’s trust and
confidence. A trust scale (Forsyth et al.
2002 cited Adams and Forsyth 2006) and parenting sense of competence scale
to measure the confidence of the parents (Gilmore and Cuskelly 2009) will be
used as an instrument to see their relationship with other parents and to
different professionals. To investigate the second research question, I will be
using open-ended questions for this will allows parents and multi-agency
professionals to define specific concerns. For the last research question, I
will be using semi-structured interview for parents on the supposed outcomes on
their children.Since
last year, this programme was running 56 nurseries, playgroups and children’s
centres within the Hillingdon community (Inclusion Team 2016b), I am planning to
target 50 random parents who participated in the Attention Hillingdon programme
as respondents for the Likert trust and competence scales while 10 random
professionals and parents to respond the open-ended questions, provided that
there will be 50 child settings that will avail the programme this year as this
numbers are attainable for this study. As for the interview, I will be
targeting 5 parents as my participants. The respondents and participants for
this study will be communicated through email, acquired from the local
authority of Hillingdon. The child settings will also be contacted informing
them and getting consent from them about the evaluation project. Ethical
issues include the confidentiality of the information given by the participants
and their anonymity is kept as they express their personal feelings to other
professionals. The sensitivity issues should also be considered as this
involves children. Proper channelling and building rapport is essential before doing
any actions. The
possible risk of this evaluation is the unresponsiveness of the participants,
as they might not be reading their emails and might have unmanageable workload.
There is also a concern on uncompleted questionnaires especially for open-ended
questions. Also parents might be reluctant and are busy with their schedules
and taking care of their young children. Communicating to child settings
management will be helpful to relay the importance of the evaluation and
conducting the interview before the parents pick up their children in the child
settings might be a solution for the interview concern.AnalysisFor
analysing Likert scales for parent’s trust and parent’s competence, as
suggested by Sullivan and Artino (2013a), parametric test might be used to
analyse the data that will be gathered, since parametric tests are more robust
and tend to give ‘the right answer’. Parametric analysis is ‘justifiable by the
Central Limit Theorem which includes t-test, ANOVA and regression procedures’ (Sullivan
and Artino 2013b). We will be categorising the items into favourable and unfavourable
results to see the parents response relating to their relationship to other
parents in the training (bonding) and different professionals (bridging)
involve in the collaboration. As for the open-questions, categorising responses
by looking for common answers, similar words or expressing same ideas will be
used to analyse this data then converting questionnaires and categories into
numbers. However, the data from open-ended questions will be using the theory
of social capital focusing on bridging and linking as we are categorising them.
Transcribed interviews will be manually coded using thematic analysis using
activity theory as a lens on the analysis.

The
results of the analysis would help the parents know their value as they involve
themselves in working together with different professionals and measure the
efficacy of the Attention Hillingdon programme and how could the programme be
develop.

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