The professional in ‘professional curiosity’: exploring the experiences of school-based pastoral staff and their use of curiosity with and about parents. An Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis

Emma Maynard, Katie Cramphorn*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Professional curiosity is vital in early intervention and in keeping children safe from abuse and neglect, its significance has been a recurrent theme in inquiries into child abuse and neglect in the UK over the last decade. However, there is a notable lack of research into the lived experience of practitioners in being professionally curious with parents and carers, perhaps particularly so regarding practitioners in schools, who hold significant safeguarding responsibilities, as part of a wider landscape of services responsible for keeping children safe.
We present a qualitative empirical study into the lived experience of practitioners in pastoral support roles in schools across two local authorities in England. We found that professional curiosity was a highly emotive concept for participants, characterised by a myriad of emotional responses, support which appears inconsistent, expressed as a question of ‘luck’. Professional identity was found to be deeply significant in enacting curious practice, but this existed in a spectrum from determined and compassionate, to rejection of the need for curiosity and in these examples we also found othering, and less compassion for families. Overall, we call for consistent support for practitioners required to employ professional curiosity, both in terms of the emotional labour in this work, and the transition to seeing family orientated practice as part of the key function of their role.
Original languageEnglish
JournalPastoral Care in Education
Publication statusAccepted for publication - 28 Jul 2021

Keywords

  • Curiosity
  • reflective practice
  • safeguarding
  • pastoral care
  • home-school relationships

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