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Assessing wellbeing at school entry using the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire: Professional perspectives

Aim: The purpose of this study was to explore the views of pre-school education staff about assessing social and emotional wellbeing of children at school entry using the SDQ. The objectives were to examine the opinions of pre-school workers about completing the SDQ and to elicit their thoughts on the value of doing this and their perceptions of the usefulness of the information collected. Method: Pre-school establishments were approached using a purposive sampling strategy in order to achieve a mix of local authority (n=14) and 'partnership' establishments (n=8) as well as different socio-economic areas. Semi-structured interviews (n=25) were conducted with pre-school head teachers (n=14) and child development officers (n=11) in order to explore the process of completing the SDQ along with perceptions of its value. The interviews were transcribed verbatim and analysed thematically. Results: In general, staff in pre-school establishments viewed the use of the SDQ positively. It was seen as a chance to highlight the social and emotional development of children rather than just their academic or educational ability. Most felt that the SDQ had not identified anything they did not already know about a child. A minority, nevertheless, suggested that a previously unrecognized potential difficulty was brought to light, most commonly emotional problems. Completing the SDQ was felt to be relatively straightforward even though the staff felt under pressure from competing priorities. Concerns were, however, raised about the potential of labeling a child at an early stage of formal education. (author abstract)
Resource Type:
Reports & Papers
Scotland; United Kingdom

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