Centre for Planning Education and Research - Doctoral Theses

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    Education welfare in Ireland: a study of the experiences of young people and families referred to the Statutory Education Welfare Service
    (University College Cork, 2020-11-30) O'Flynn, Sinéad; Connolly, Tracey; Cahill, Kevin; TUSLA Child and Family Agency
    This research examines the experiences of young people and families referred to the Educational Welfare Service in Ireland. This is a small-scale unique study based on seven case studies and includes in-depth semi-structured interviews with young people, parents, schools, external agencies and the Education Welfare Officers (EWOs). This qualitative study explores the factors contributing to poor school attendance from the perspectives of the young people and their parents, the research explores their response to these contributing factors and considers their engagement with the school and subsequent engagement with the Education Welfare Service (EWS). A number of central themes emerge from the data as contributing to school absenteeism, these include; educational inequality, mental health issues including bereavement, anxiety and trauma and the impact of having a special educational need. The research highlights the effects of inequality and the lack of appropriate services for young people both in and outside of the school environment. The importance of a positive school climate and the importance of true and meaningful school inclusion also emerge from the research as being fundamental in ensuring continued engagement for marginalised young people within the education system. The research recommends the review of the current school attendance legislation, the review of practice methods used by schools and agencies to maintain young people within the education system and a targetted, holistic approach to effectively respond to the complex issues that lead to early school leaving. Consideration should be given to using a multidisciplinary approach with the potential to offer a range of services to support young people with their learning, with their emotional and mental health issues and include the provision of outreach options to marginalised families. The research also explores the role of the Education Welfare Officer and focuses on the influence of power and social class on school attendance. This research explores the appropriateness of prosecution as a response to poor school attendance, given the complexity of the underlying issues that are illustrated by the cases presented. The role of the Education Welfare Officer is presented as the advocate for children and young people through the support and guidance offered to parents, schools and agencies.
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    Towards a holistic understanding of student teachers becoming resilient on school placement
    (University College Cork, 2019) Nation, Una Evelyn; Chambers, Fiona Catherine; Kitching, Karl
    This research aims to contribute to our understanding of resilience and how it is negotiated and achieved by student teachers. The purpose of this research is to explore the lived experience of student teachers during their school placement. The fact that student teachers find teaching practice intense is well known. During the initial teacher education phase, the student teacher attempts to perform a coherent, unitary student teacher self that will be viewed favourably by pupils, colleagues, parents, and the tutor as a “good teacher” (MacDonald, 1996). This adds to the intensity of the teaching placement, which itself is underpinned by, constant surveillance. The multi-dimensional nature of resilience formed the basis of the conceptual framework, this was used to build on existing research, and in so doing, helped to clarify why and how resilience is formed, and how student teachers respond in the face of adversity. The conceptual framework goes beyond the basic interpretation of resilience which views resilience as the ability to bounce back in the face of adversity (Windle, 2010) and sees resilience as a complex and multi-dimensional, interrelated phenomenon. This framework offers a holistic view of resilience as involving (a) attachment and psychological strength (b) communities of practice and (c) negotiation of power relations. This interpretive research is located within the constructivist paradigm. This paradigm suited the study as it enabled the identification of factors that might not be exposed or described through the use of statistics, which offer generalisations of the student teacher population. Throughout one academic school year, qualitative data was collected using semi-structured interviews and reflections from six student teachers. The data was considered using an interpretivist framework that emerged from the voices of the participants. Arising from this research is the notion of the ongoing process of becoming resilient in student teaching as involving the development and negotiation of three key forms of self; namely, the relational self, coping self and monitored self. The negotiation of these forms of self-demonstrate that student teachers comply, resist and work around the demands of the placement. Performativity – or responding publicly to the multiple and at times alienating demands of placement is a means of conforming and in doing so, coping, for student teachers. The study supports the view that people cannot be simplistically reduced to being good or bad student teachers; rather they negotiate a range of selves and a range of challenges in the process of becoming resilient on school placement. Implications for policy, practice, and future research on student teacher practice on resilience are discussed.
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    Essays in strategic spatial planning and governance in Ireland’s city – regions
    (University College Cork, 2018) Brady, William M.; Keohane, Kieran; O'Connell, Cathal
    The aim of this PhD project is to develop an understanding of how strategic spatial planning is expressed and delivered as a specific mode of governance, in response to the particular challenges facing Europe’s second-tier cities. It is concerned with how planning, as a particular form of public policy and a form of governance-in-action, materialises at certain spatial scales and how it is influencing patterns of territorial development. In addition, the research interrogates the ways in which planning practice applies its basic principles through planning policy, decision making, and by exploring the normative basis of the profession’s activities. The connecting theme relates to an interest in how planning is governed, how it is expressed as a specific mode of governance in urban settings and how decision-making around planning projects navigates through a variety of social, political and economic filters. These phenomena are explored in this thesis using a series of thematic empirical pieces, which relate broadly to the field of strategic spatial planning at city-region/metropolitan level. The PhD is presented as a series of discrete articles, submitted under University regulations as a publication-based thesis. These essays are concerned primarily with developing insights into the nature of contemporary strategic spatial planning and place-making as a mode of governance. The empirical work, which uses episodes of strategic spatial planning in Ireland and Cork as a master case study framework, addresses four core themes. Firstly, it confronts the issue of central-local dynamics as part of strategic spatial planning at the national scale, using the experiences of Ireland’s second-tier cities as part of the national spatial planning agenda. Secondly, it is concerned with understanding how strategic spatial planning frames policy and practice for metropolitan areas and the way in which it operates as a framework for articulating urban governance strategies. The third theme explores the transformative capacity of strategic spatial planning as an instrument for the promotion of sustainable development practices. The fourth theme addresses methodological concerns around the particular challenges associated with scholarly inquiry within the realm of strategic spatial planning. The thesis outlines four sets of main findings relating to the core themes, which in different ways characterise the nature of change in strategic spatial planning in Ireland. First, there has been an important shift towards place-based approaches under Ireland’s national planning regime, whereby the city/metropolitan region emerges as a spatial unit with the potential to integrate a variety of spatial and sectoral policy strands. This however has not created new territorial governance patterns or a rescaling of power within the state and around city-regions. Although the case of Cork presents a case whereby strategic spatial planning has emerged as a clearly recognisable form of territorial management with distinctive governance dimensions, this proves to be an exceptional case. The move towards placed-based spatial strategies in Ireland has been limited to new frames of reference rather than new forms of governance, and place-based spatial strategies largely emerged within the soft spaces of governance. The research has established an absence of clarity about governance needs at the city-region and metropolitan scales, particularly at the second-tier city level. Second, the analysis of these episodes of spatial planning illustrates the dynamic nature of governance as part of a rapidly evolving economic and social global order, which is characterised by flexibility, speed and innovation. Conversely, these episodes also illustrate the stability of established institutional and administrative structures and norms, and a degree of resistance to those emerging governance changes - particularly those expressed at the regional and metropolitan scales. In the absence of strong sub-regional or metropolitan governance structures, the rollout of spatial strategies at this scale in Ireland’s second-tier cities was generally fragmentary and the kind of unified territorial, placed-based approach advocated in the National Spatial Strategy (NSS) never materialised. However, Cork exists as a particular exception in this regard; its experiences reflect a restructuring and rescaling of planning at metropolitan and sub-regional levels, where a mix of top-down and bottom-up forces are combining to produce a semi-formalised, nonstatutory planning regime. Third, the analysis of the post- NSS landscape in Ireland demonstrates clearly the limitations of strategic spatial planning as a transformative framework, with evidence of a divergence of economic and settlement patterns - with long-term sustainability implications. Recent experiences in Ireland’s key gateway cities would suggest that although the ‘soft spaces of governance’ are a necessary feature of the urban decision-making landscape, they are not conducive to making hard decisions. However, the kinds of strategic planning initiatives deployed in Cork certainly resonate with the concept of transformative practice as outlined in the planning literature. The rail strategy, for example, can be interpreted as an attempt to transform completely the economic and environmental trajectory of development in the city-region, using a series of arguments around environmental and social quality based on what can be considered a grand place-making concept. However, such projects are unlikely to acquire socio-spatial transformative characteristics unless established modes of governance are moderated and if public policy considers more actively the political-institutional landscape in which these efforts are situated. Fourth, in the examination of national and sub-regional episodes of strategic spatial planning in Ireland, which evolved over the course of the four essays, it was necessary to adapt and extend the methodological framework. This involved extending the empirical investigations beyond the confines of an instrumentalist perspective, and engaging in a more comprehensive analysis of governance narratives. The research also relied on a mixed conformance-performance analytical mode of inquiry, based on the ‘Dutch model’ of planning assessment. Because of the complex and stratified research terrain, the analysis combined an instrumentalist conformance-based analysis with an assessment of its performance as mode of strategic spatial planning in practice. The evolution of analysis during the research process would suggest that a full understanding of the operation and impact of strategic spatial planning projects cannot be conducted without combining an assessment of both conformance and performance. In conclusion, the case of strategic spatial planning in Ireland and in Cork demonstrates the ways in which strategic spatial planning has penetrated policy and practice discourses, and has served to deliver a comprehensive transformation in planning as a discipline and within the broader arena of public policy. Overall, we can see a remarkable consistency in how planning episodes articulate their basic premise, which relates to an enduring focus on the arrangement of development in territories and with the idea of spatial order. Although there has been a general reluctance to institutionalise planning units like city-regions or metropolitan areas as formal government entities, they are being deployed increasingly as containers for strategic spatial planning. The research has also indicated that long term, coherent strategic spatial planning across administrative boundaries, based on consistent ideas about governing/planning spaces, can produce what may be understood as a metropolitan consciousness. This may be understood as a tacit project around an informal spatial construct, which, over time, gains legitimacy as a strong governance space (in which decisions are brokered) and as a metaphor (for articulating a collective vision for the urban area’s long-term future). Strategic spatial planning also involves dealing with complexity, and as a result, deploys methods that encourage what may be termed spatial-thematic selectivity. This can be translated as the prioritisation of a limited number of high profile interventions that are spatially and sectorally integrative – manifesting in large-scale, geographically expansive and symbolic projects that are designed to reorient territorial trajectories and produce symbolic-political support across broad coalitions. The research would also suggest that in Ireland’s post-economic crisis period, and in a broader neoliberal political setting in which the state appears to have shirked its responsibility for managing and sponsoring urban affairs, we see the emergence of strategic spatial planning as a proxy for urban governance. As formal urban governing competencies are reduced as part of a clear centralisation agenda, and with city-regions assuming greater economic responsibilities, strategic spatial planning becomes an arena in which urban governance capacity is exercised. Consequently, strategic and fundamental decisions about urban development, infrastructure programmes and public investment are increasingly considered within the realm of strategic spatial planning – which performs as a substitute for traditional urban government, and in turn, as a proxy for urban governance.
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    Landscape and planning: strengthening discussions in the decision-making process
    (University College Cork, 2016) Ray, Karen; O'Sullivan, Brendan; Crowley, John
    Since the emergence of the European Landscape Convention (ELC) in 2000, the important link between landscape and planning has greatly intensified. Now, more than ever, the fundamental role of the planning system in delivering the ELC’s requirements is recognised. This has been further substantiated within Ireland’s recently published National Landscape Strategy. However it has continually been suggested that decision-making processes need to adapt better to the holistic, valueladen and multidimensional approaches underpinning the ELC. In light of these milestones for the preservation, management and planning of landscape, this research sets out to establish synergies and disparities in the existing relationship between landscape and planning. It investigates detailed evidence of the presence and manifestations of landscape in key processes of day-to-day planning practice in Ireland, from individual planning appeals and ‘special’ cases, to the major strategic instruments that inform the making of landscape policies within development plans. This is set within wider theoretical and policy contexts where the compatibility of landscape and planning is subjected to critical scrutiny and then explored through these practical case studies. Driving this research is the intention to make a case for the planning domain to be an ideal ‘home’ for landscape – in all its deep, multidimensional meaning – and for enhancing landscape arguments and objectives in the face of conflict, competing values and power-plays in the real world. Emerging out of this research is a set of recommendations for how, at a national level, new approaches for decision making for and about landscape can be more effective and meaningful.