The school experience of children in residential care: A multiple case study

Marta Garcia‐Molsosa, Jordi Collet‐Sabé, Carme Montserrat - Child & Family Social Work


Children in residential care are the out‐of‐home population group with the lowest rate of access to postsecondary education. Research aimed at understanding their situation within the school context suggests that besides learning progress and outcomes, subjective experiences should be taken into account. Qualitative research based on a multiple‐case study was designed and carried out in Spain with the aim of deepening the understanding of the individual school experiences of three children in residential care. Each case was analysed from the perspective of the child, the educators and the teachers. Semistructured, one‐to‐one interviews were carried out, and children's files were consulted. The results pointed to emotional distress and accumulated educational delay as common traits of the three children in the study. In shaping each particular school experience, the key themes identified included (1) individual characteristics, (2) the children's academic aspirations and strategies, (3) relationships with peers and teachers, (4) response experienced in school, (5) the complex structure of the residential centre, (6) the sense of belonging to the residential centre, (7) team work and (8) political action and investment in inclusive education.