The Future of Education

Edition 14

Accepted Abstracts

Embedding Trauma-Informed Approaches Into Organisational Culture and Practices: an Ethnographic Case Study

Josie Scammell, University of Oxford (United Kingdom)


Vulnerable young people - especially those who are care-experienced - collectively have educational outcomes that are below the national average. Reasons for this are multidimensional, but one element is that traumatic experiences such as abuse and neglect can have a lasting impact on schooling. Previous research suggests that adoption of trauma-informed approaches within educational organisations can help to better support young people who are trauma-experienced with their educational journeys, however rigorous research on long-term action plans for embedding such approaches into practices in ways that are sustainable is lacking. This paper presents the findings and implications from one case study: an in-depth two-year ethnographic study alongside a long-standing educational organisation supporting disadvantaged young people through long-term programmes. Research presented aims to seek answers to questions of how practices can be adapted to support organisational learning and change, how learning is produced and transferred between key actors within an organisation and how key stakeholders conceptulise success of learning and change. Over a two-year period, qualitative data is collected through one-to-one and group interviews, and observations on varying scales of the participant-observer spectrum.  Findings are triangulated and analysed through reflexive thematic analysis, and depict an organisation in the early phases of engagement with organisational learning and change strategies. Findings depict themes of tension within the organisational change processes: tension between leadership perspectives, tensions between perspectives of different organisational hierarchies, and tensions between perspectives of ‘what works’ and why. Findings also shed light onto the tension of where learning – and therefore knowledge – resides within an organisation at the start of its journey to change. The findings presented not only provide recommendations for practice for other educational organisations, but also contribute to the field of organisational learning and change through reflection of learning and impacts.  The ethnographic approach provides a unique perspective on organisational learning and change ‘in action’.  


Organisational learning; change; culture; trauma-informed approach; attachment theory 


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