Making Sense Of Disengagement In The Primary Classroom: A Study Of Pupil, Teacher And Parent Perceptions

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This paper is based upon the findings of an interpretative, school-based study of pupil, teacher and parent perceptions of disengagement within the primary classroom. It examines how pupil and parent perceptions support or challenge professional discourses about pupil behaviour, raising questions about the nature of disengagement and the intervention strategies used to manage it. The central finding of the study is that pupil, teacher and parent perceptions show a striking lack of intersubjectivity. Though there are some commonalities of perception between participants, most of these commonalities are shared by pupils and parents, rather than pupils and teachers. It is argued that the underlying lack of shared meaning between teachers and pupils skews classroom interaction and obfuscates teacher intervention, accounting for the poor relationships, and the breakdown of teaching and learning, in the classrooms observed. The explanatory concept of pupil and teacher ‘survival strategies’ is used to explore this negative dynamic.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)333-362
Number of pages30
JournalResearch Papers In Education
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2007


  • disengagement
  • behaviour management
  • perceptions
  • professional discourse
  • intersubjectivity
  • survival strategies


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