The feasibility and acceptability of neurodevelopmental and mental health screening of young people following two fixed-term school exclusions

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Clinical Psychology



Young people excluded from school are a vulnerable group who often have a range of complex needs. It is suggested that many of these needs are unidentified and may be directly contributing to their behaviour. Research and policy highlights the absence of screening for neurodevelopmental and mental health difficulties in young people who are excluded from school, often until they have engaged in repeated offending behaviour.


This study aimed to explore the feasibility and acceptability of neurodevelopmental and mental health screening of secondary school pupils who receive two or more fixed-term exclusions. It also aimed to compare the outcomes of screening between a case group, young people who had received two or more fixed-term exclusions, and a control group, young people who had not received a fixed-term exclusion.


Forty participants (twenty case and twenty control) completed the screening process. A range ofmeasures were used to collect information from young people, parents and teachers regarding neurodevelopmental disorders and mental health. These included intellectual disability, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, language impairment, autism spectrum disorder, anxiety, depression and conduct disorder.Feasibility was assessed through recruitment, retention and informant response rates, and acceptability via feedback questionnaires.


On the whole, the screening process was feasible to carry out and highly acceptable to young people; however, there were limited informant responses from parents and teachers. Case participants experienced significantly greater difficulties across the majority of screening measures compared to gender and age matched control participants.


This study highlights the range of difficulties experienced by young people at risk of exclusion from secondary school and suggests a screening process to identify these difficulties was predominantly feasible and acceptable to carry out in schools. A larger scale study is warranted to further explore the outcomes of screening and to address some of the limitations in collecting informant data.
Date of Award1 Oct 2020
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • King's College London
SupervisorKate Johnston (Supervisor) & Kate Prentice (Supervisor)

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