Implementation Study School Social Work in Burgenland

Regionalmanagement Burgenland (RMB) ordered the study from the Department for Social Work in early 2016 in an effort to test implementation models of school social work against structural requirements of school social work in the regional school system and it test target groups of school social work against their practical use in the field. The RMB ordered the study because up until now, school social work in Burgenland was next to non-existing – with the exception of a local initiative and a pilot project in the field.  

The implementation study’s research design is structurally follows a ‘bottom up’ approach and in and around the system school and their support structures it takes a ‘top down’ approach.

It uses a triangulated mixed method as well as a between-methods approach.

One basis for the models to be researched and evaluated form recent discussions in pertinent literature and the findings of a future-search event where around 160 persons contributed work to a professional convention regarding school social work.

About 30 experts who work in the regional school system (supervisory board, principals, and teachers), as well as school social workers engaged in projects throughout Austria were questioned by means of protocol-supported qualitative interviews and by means of focus group discussions. The primary target group, students at local middle schools, were surveyed by means of an online questionnaire.    

Aspects of social space and regions, chances, risks, scope of impact, existing experiences with and in psycho-social support systems at schools and development perspectives for the descriptive and evaluative horizon of the planning units ‘on-site-model’, ‘regional model’ and ‘networked campus model’.

Starting from a simple on-site model that reaches about 39% of all students in middle school (support ratio 1:300) and that has a small-scale impact, the authors differentiate various models up to a first attempt at a ‘networked campus model’. 

This implementation model of school social work reaches 100% of all students at middle schools and includes elementary school students about to graduate who switch to middle school.

The anticipated costs for the various models are estimated along correlations such as the desired coverage, the support ration and the intended professional development. Variants such as cost participation and estimated return of investment figures are also included in the calculations.

A quantitative survey of all third and fourth grade students in middle school includes about 3000 12 – 14-year-old students.

Questions focusing on their everyday lives, learning, spare time, personal problems, family, friends and the like, as well as questions focusing on the students’ expectations regarding school support systems show parallel to the any given use and popularity of existing systems also gaps and blanks in psycho-social support resources. These gaps are of main interest to school social work to be put in place.

Finally, the study condenses results of this research to minimum requirements for potential carrier institutions and recommendations regarding regional structures and the anchoring of administrative and social work quality assurance. It considers this concerning school social work in Burgenland in order to work most effectively in an area of potential conflict between a schools organization, pedagogy, school social work and increasing multi-professionality of school personnel.

Duration: 02/2016 - 03/2017

Funding agencies, research & cooperation partners

Funding agency

Cooperation partners

Project team

Project manager

Scientific staff

Pascal Laun

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