"Are they ready? Will they cope?" An exploration of the journey from pre-school to school for children with additional support needs who had their school entry delayed

  • Heather Gorton

    Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Educational Psychology


    From the author’s work as an educational psychologist in a Scottish local authority and her initial literature review, concerns were raised by her colleagues and local education authority about delaying school entry of children with additional support needs. This study aimed to: explore how the decision making process for delaying school entry operated; develop and trial a methodology to capture the children’s perspective and explore the experiences of the children and their families in nursery and during their first year of school. A qualitative case study approach was used to explore the decision making process for six children and their families and the experiences of five children and their families. Techniques from the mosaic methodology (Clark and Moss, 2001) were adapted to capture the children’s voices. The study revealed that participants held different models of school readiness, in line with other international research, and this influenced their decision to retain. Participants reported a range of positive and negative outcomes of delayed school entry and identified factors that had been supportive in managing the children’s transitions. Children’s perspectives were captured and often offered a unique insight into the children’s views. At the end of the children’s first year in primary school four parents were still happy with their decision to delay school entry but one parent regretted her decision. In conclusion it is suggested that a more interactionist (Meisels, 1998) approach to school readiness should be taken when supporting the transition from nursery to school. A moderated system should be developed to support the decision making process for delaying school entry, with an inbuilt process to follow up longer-term outcomes for the children and families concerned. The methodology developed for gathering children’s views offered a way for children with additional support needs to express their own views and take an active role at this important transition point. There is potential to develop this methodology further to ensure that children’s voices are heard in this first universal educational transition.
    Date of Award2013
    Original languageEnglish
    SupervisorDivya Jindal-Snape (Supervisor) & Beth Hannah (Supervisor)


    • Transitions
    • School Readiness
    • Delaying school entry
    • Capturing the voice of the child

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