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University of East Anglia

UOA 40 - Social Work and Social Policy & Administration

RA5a: Research environment and esteem

The School of Social Work at UEA has a distinctive psychosocial identity and research focus which has led innovation in social work knowledge, policy and practice over the period. Since 2001 the School has enhanced its research impact with a greater proportion of submitted staff becoming the recognised international and national experts in their specialist fields.

Over the period 2001-2007 staff have:

  • Advanced theoretical development and empirical analysis in social work through the production of 24 authored books, 4 edited books, 29 major research reports, 46 chapters in books and 113 peer-reviewed journal articles (multiple-authored only counted once).
  • Secured over 65 projects through competitive tender and peer-review from a wide range of funding bodies.
  • Generated £2.6m external research income, averaging £390,000pa.
  • Established seven new international research collaborations, and consolidated existing partnerships, with the Centre for Research on the Child and Family (CRCF) becoming part of the global network of ChildWatch research institutions.

This output is nurtured by a research environment at UEA that connects internal networks of expertise to external networks of influence. A strong research infrastructure is also provided by the CRCF, now in its eleventh year. In addition, there is a shared understanding that best practice in social work and effective social policies are underpinned by a robust empirical evidence base. We are also brought together by a shared concern with how power is manifest socio-legally and, in particular, in how it arises in inter-professional practice. The sixteen submitted staff engage in three main research themes, reframed since 2001: Children’s Services and Child Well-being; Parenting and Families and Adult Services. Membership of the Making Research Count national collaboration is influential in disseminating this research portfolio.



1. Research Students and Studentships

Research students are a vital part of the School’s research culture. Since 2001, 12 students have successfully completed their PhD (plus one PhD by Publication). A further two students submitted in 2007 just after the census point and two vivas are planned for early 2008. Its first Doctorate in Social Work (DSW) was awarded in 2005. The 2007 ESRC Recognition Exercise, covering the period 2001-2006, showed 75% of submitted full-time PhDs were awarded within four years and 100% of part-time PhDs within seven years. We currently enjoy our highest ever number of full-time doctoral students (12 in 2007 post-census compared with 2 in 2001).

Since 2001 the School has become less reliant on self-funded studentships. UEA is one of only two Social Work outlets nationally to have ESRC recognition for: 1+3 PhDs (full-time and part-time), DSW and CASE studentships. The ESRC-recognised MA Child and Family Research started in 2004/5, complementing the renowned MA in International Child Welfare. Over the period the School has been awarded five ESRC-funded studentships (three commencing post-census): four ESRC CASE studentships (two with the National Family and Parenting Institute, one with a regional family contact centre and one with the Department for Children, Schools and Families) and an ESRC interdisciplinary studentship (with UEA School of Allied Health Professions). Home and overseas research studentships have also been awarded to the School through yearly internal UEA competition.

Research students are attached to one of the three research themes. All undertake training in quantitative and qualitative methods; attend and contribute to the fortnightly School seminar series; and attend a yearly summer conference of doctoral work in progress. Linkage with the 100+ students on taught Masters programmes offers practitioners an attractive route into research and creates a vibrant graduate atmosphere. In addition to School-based doctoral training, students participate in Faculty and University-wide programmes including: ‘Transitions’, a Roberts-funded programme for personal and professional skills development.

PhD students have dedicated office space housed within the School and access to phone/fax, photocopying, electronic journal resources and inter-library loans. They have a yearly allowance (£750/student in 2007/8) to cover fieldwork expenses/conference presentations. Increasingly students are presenting at national and international conferences and publishing articles, prior to PhD submission.


2. Research Income

Over the period the volume of external research income has nearly doubled. The School has generated £2,593,587 in external research income averaging £390,000pa (cf £200,000pa in the previous RAE). It has secured over 65 individual projects through competitive tender and peer-review from a wide range of funding bodies. The School has been the beneficiary of major large research awards notably from Department for Education and Skills/Department of Health for the National Evaluation of Children’s Trusts (£600,000 O’Brien) and the DfES Adoption Research Programme (£307,163 Neil and Sellick).

Central and local government have been the main funding source for research (67% of income over the period), particularly DfES, Department for Constitutional Affairs, and DoH for child and family service investigations. A proportion of regional grants has arisen from collaborative funding partnerships, (e.g. Dickens, Schofield, and Thoburn’s Looked after Children data project involved 24 LAs).

The Equal Opportunities Commission and the Department of Trade and Industry have been key funders of our research on fathers and work-family balance (Fathers and Employment; Shared Caring; International Parental Leave Network activities (O'Brien and Moss)

In addition, because of the nature of our research, charities continue to be a significant funding source (28% of income over the period) including Big Lottery Research Fund, Esmée Fairbairn Foundation, Joseph Rowntree Foundation; Leverhulme Trust, NSPCC and Nuffield Foundation. The Nuffield Foundation has funded seven research projects, and has been a key sponsor for two significant international conferences and one national seminar. Collaboration with leading charities is also beginning to fund important research posts. In 2005, NSPCC funded a five-year Senior Research Fellowship (Gardner) to forge UEA/NSPCC scholarship on child abuse and neglect.

Most recently we have secured research framework agreements with the Ministry of Justice and Social Care Institute for Excellence, both won in national competition, and we expect these to be continuing sources of funding.


3. Research Structure

3.1 Research Themes

It is a feature of our research that while it is concentrated around three main themes, individual researchers often work across more than one area. Children’s Services and Child Well-being, Parenting and Families have been central to the work of CRCF.

In the sections below significant scholarly work is numerically referenced to outputs in RA2.


(i) Children’s Services and Children’s Well-being

(Bailey, Brandon, Crozier, Dickens, Howe, Neil, O’Brien, Schofield, Sellick, Stone, Thoburn, Walsh)

CRCF has been influential in building an increasingly robust base of evidence for the improvement of services for children and families in the UK and similar economies. Its research ranges from studies of universal and community located services, like school breakfast clubs, to a special focus on developmental needs and services for vulnerable children, that is, those who are in need of support or protection and those in foster care and adoption. There are currently eight linked PhD students.

O’Brien (4), with Brandon, Thoburn and colleagues in UEA Schools of Education and Health and the National Children’s Bureau, led the bid to secure a major DfES commission to evaluate Children’s Trusts Pathfinders, a key Every Child Matters pilot initiative. O’Brien and Brandon (2) also led a series of linked and in-depth projects on community-based services that have informed policy and practice, including evaluations of the work of Sure Start, Children’s Fund and family centres. Thoburn’s (2) high profile Nuffield-funded research synthesis on the full range of services to families of minority ethnic origin, made essential connections between universal services, those targeted at disadvantaged groups and those provided to the most vulnerable families, as well as identifying innovative and community based interventions. Brandon (3) led the team on the DfES evaluation of the Common Assessment Framework and the work of ‘lead professionals’, two further central Every Child Matters pilot initiatives. The national roll-out of both was influenced by Brandon’s findings.

Together, these studies provide an original and significant insight into inter-professional working that is informing the restructuring of UK children’s services and is exciting the interest of overseas governments (e.g. Chile, New Zealand).

UEA’s understanding of children in need has benefited significantly from the contribution of developmental psychology. Crozier’s (1,2) scholarly and internationally renowned work on social anxiety and shyness illuminates child well-being issues such as bullying in schools. Similarly, Walsh’s work on children of mentally ill parents has used rigorous psychological methodologies to demonstrate how children show resilience in the face of parental difficulties.

Howe is an established international expert on the complex links between maltreatment, attachment, development and intervention. His landmark contributions (2,3,4) have provided child protection professionals with a powerful and authoritative analysis of the research evidence.

A major empirical contribution to our understanding of processes and outcomes for children at risk was made by Brandon (1,4) through her long-term follow up of children who had suffered significant harm and her systematic review of child death reports. This research and the influential work of Gardner (1,2,3,4) brought to the attention of policy makers challenging issues not only around harm to children, but also around the unequal distribution of power between service users, social workers and managers.

The role of courts in managing these boundaries and their power dimensions has been the focus of Stone’s (3) legal commentaries and Dickens’s (2,3) innovative socio-legal study of inter-professional relationships when solicitors and social workers need to work together to safeguard children. Dickens (4), with Thoburn and Schofield (4) built on this work in a study of children entering and remaining in state care. This study, arising from a partnership with 24 local authorities, created important new models for making sense of care data. Bailey (3) with Thoburn used similar strategies for interrogating administrative data, while also collecting qualitative data, to track pathways in health and social care.

The evidence from these studies of care pathways contributed to Thoburn’s (4) success in being awarded a prestigious Leverhulme Fellowship to adapt the methodology to a study of child placement in 14 countries. The conclusions from Thoburn’s detailed report have been consulted by policy makers in the UK and in most of the countries included.

Research on family placement has made an outstanding contribution to law, policy and practice in both fostering and adoption. Sellick (2,3) has played a key role in mapping new developments in foster care, including his review for SCIE of innovative fostering practice. He is now regarded as the leading expert on the independent foster care sector as a result of his evidence-based analysis of commissioning models and the development of a mixed economy of foster care in policy and practice.

In the search for stability and permanence for fostered children, Schofield's (1,2) Nuffield-funded longitudinal study of long-term foster care and Thoburn’s (1) articles based on permanence research have had an impact internationally and nationally. Schofield’s (3) scholarship provided the foundation for what is becoming a classic text on developmental attachment theory and research for family placement practitioners. Schofield has also conducted the first national study of care planning for permanence in foster care (2006-7) funded by the Big Lottery.

Far-reaching new approaches to the psychology and practice of child placement have also been a key feature of Neil’s (1,2,3,4) developmentally focussed and rigorous investigation into adopted young children's contact with birth relatives (another significant longitudinal study funded by the Nuffield Foundation). Neil’s research expertise in this controversial area and Sellick’s expertise in mapping services nationally was recognised by the DfES Adoption Research Programme competition award to pursue two separate but linked studies into contact and support services for birth relatives after adoption. The complexity of birth and adoptive identities reflected in Neil’s work was also a key part of an innovative and applied project led by Howe (1) into adoption reunion in adult life.


(ii) Parenting and Families

(Bailey, Kielty, Neil, O’Brien, Schofield, Thoburn, Trinder, Walsh)

Understanding how changes in family structure, gender roles and employment patterns have transformed the nature of parenting has been the focus of this theme. The range of scholarship includes: fathers, employment and parenting; parenting in South Asian families; divorce and the reordering of family relations; atypical family forms through foster care and adoption; parenting in the contexts of parental mental illness and imprisonment. There are currently six linked PhD students.

O’Brien (2), an established international expert on fathers, leads the School’s research activity on men’s family and work roles. Over the period her work has been a key driver in the national policy to understand and support fathers in both their child-caring and employment roles. O’Brien’s (1) two EOC-funded projects on fathers and work-family balance provided original evidence on British fathers’ use of flexible working and parental leave, created national debate about fathers’ time with children and informed The Work and Families Act 2006 provisions to enhance fathers’ access to paternity leave.

The School and CRCF’s unique contribution to understanding post-divorce family transitions is highlighted in the breadth and depth of scholarship by Kielty, Trinder and Thoburn. Kielty’s (1,3) is the first study to report on non-resident motherhood in the UK. Using narrative methodology, it highlights the significance of maternal choice, the importance of maintaining a positive maternal self-image for this group of women, and more gender-specific policy and practice (Kielty (2)).

Trinder’s research for two DCA-funded studies on parenting and children in mediation disputes has directly informed government ministers and new legal frameworks on contact after divorce. The importance of including children’s perspectives in cases of conflicted parenting is also exemplified in NSPCC-funded research by Bailey (4) and Thoburn in collaboration with CAFCASS. The study used an innovative survey methodology to seek the views of a wider range of children than had been possible to date on the role of professionals in representing their wishes to the Courts. A CASE PhD studentship is providing a direct link with the local courts and day-to-day practice in a supervised contact agency.

Understanding father involvement in vulnerable families where men have the potential to be peripheral is a further activity in this research field, through the DfES Fathers and Sure Start project and the Nuffield-funded Fathering from Prison study, part of an Anglo-US comparative collaboration (O'Brien (3)). Findings from this study of father-child contact in prisons contribute theoretical insight into the role of maternal mediation in fathering. Similarly, Walsh (3) demonstrates the emotional buffering role fathers may provide children when mothers are mentally ill.

Neil (3) and Schofield (2) have been exploring adoption and fostering not only as services for vulnerable children but also as complex non-biological family forms. Both have been at the fore-front of creating greater sensitivity to children’s birth family membership in social work practice and policy.


(iii) Adult Services

(McDonald, Postle, Stone)

This theme focuses on organisational and legal frameworks, individual practice and citizenship rights of adult service users, and younger people in transition to adulthood. There are currently five linked PhD students.

McDonald (2) and Postle (2) have analysed structural and organisational changes arising from the implementation of community care policy in the 1990s and beyond. Opportunities for productive multi-agency and multi-disciplinary research are evidenced by McDonald’s (2) joint authorship, with a practising solicitor, of an innovative text on the Law and Older People, which takes a life-course perspective. This successful partnership resonates with Dickens’s (3) work on social workers and lawyers in child care cases, and enables the traditional social and health care focus of community care to be extended to an exposition of financial rights and end-of-life issues. Postle’s (1) pioneering research on the operation of community care has been influential in the understanding of the management context within which social work practice takes place. Stone (1), a leading interpreter of sentencing policy, takes as his focus the criminal justice system and the impact of organisational and legal changes on professional decision-making.

McDonald’s (1) original work on services for people with dementia in three LAs is a contribution to the understanding of rural issues and has influenced policy and practice in this field through its dissemination to statutory and voluntary organisations. The use of Dementia Focus as a reference group for this research ensured involvement of representative organisations for older people in the research process. Postle’s (3) innovative, collaborative work with Beresford (Brunel) challenges policy makers and researchers to adapt emancipatory methodologies to ensure that service users’ voices are fully heard in research and service development.

The importance of shifts in legal and social policy for the understanding of professional decision-making is a feature of the work of this group. McDonald (3) and Postle have together analysed interviews with practising social workers in adult services to understand the impact of context on the way in which decisions are made. Drawing upon her own original research, Postle (1) provides a theoretical and analytical framework for understanding dissonance between aspirations and the reality of contemporary practice. The promotion of the rights of adult service users and the implementation of social work values is central to McDonald’s (4) theoretical work on human rights.

The complexity of decision-making in rule-based systems is also explored by Stone (3,4) in respect of young adults within the criminal justice system. Stone draws on his criminological background and membership of the Parole Board to inform practitioners of changes in policy and relevant legal provisions.


3.2 Mechanisms and Practices for Promoting Research

From the outset, the School has promoted an active research culture characterised by collaboration, low turnover of staff, and strong links with regional, national and international policy makers. It is a vigorously productive research community, committed to high standards of empirical enquiry and scholarship.

The School is one of six Schools in the Faculty of Social Sciences. Each School has a Research Director, currently O’Brien, who chairs the School Research Committee and is a member of the Faculty Research Committee. The Head of School, an Executive Team and Research Committee lead on research strategy formulation and implementation of policies designed to develop and support staff in their research. Individuals write yearly research plans. A variety of review meetings are held, including with peers and senior colleagues.

CRCF, co-directed by O’Brien and Schofield, steers the School's child and family research agenda and is supported by a secretary who administers the annual report, seminars and conferences. Other specific mechanisms include: leadership and engagement in national and international research networks; regular research seminars including regional seminars through Making Research Count and the Centre for Family Research (Cambridge University); journal clubs; flexible networking for research bidding; open hot-desk facilities for international collaborators.

The School has had the benefit of a number (26 in review period, 8.9 FTE 2004-6) of highly experienced and enthusiastic Research Associates over the period. Their skills underpin the production of high quality and timely responses to research tenders and reporting deadlines. Career progression of researchers follows the ESRC Concordat and researchers have been promoted during the period of review. Some work across projects. All act as ‘buddies’ to check data prior to reporting, meet as a group and have a representative on the Research Committee.

Members have externally examined 23 PhDs over the period.


3.3 Research Infra-Structure

All staff are located in the award-winning Elizabeth Fry Building which provides a conducive environment for research. There are excellent IT, library, statistical and computing resources from a range of professionals across UEA, including our own dedicated computer advisor/technician, research associates and University consultants. A specialised observational suite with one–way mirror and video recording facilities is available. Major new books and reports are launched in-house and show-cased creating a celebratory and healthy competitive atmosphere.

Research proposals are scrutinised by the School's Research Ethics Committee operating within the University's Research Ethics and Governance Framework and the principles of the British Psychological Society and Code of Ethics for Social Work and Social Care Research. Continued professional development is provided for PhD supervisors. The School benefits from a highly accomplished Faculty Research Manager, based in the School, who has administrative over-sight of research administration from bid idea to the end of project. With a central Research and Business Services Division, this resource is pivotal to our research infra-structure.


3.4 Arrangements for supporting interdisciplinary, multi- or collaborative research

The School benefits from collaboration with other leading researchers from economics, education, environmental sciences, law, management, medicine and psychology. It is in close proximity to the Norwich Research Park which includes the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital. Joining up insights from social science and health research to understand welfare is innovative and has increased our critical mass of expertise for complex research and evaluative projects. UEA has a strong track record in very successful cross-disciplinary and cross-professional research collaboration - the most extensive of which have been the DfES/DoH National Evaluation of Children’s Trusts and the DoH-funded national evaluation of Breakfast Clubs.

Our in-house and cross-departmental methodological expertise supports: economic cost-benefit analyses of services; geographical mapping of communities and service boundaries; and statistical modeling of large scale data sets.

The extensive set of partnerships with leading Charities, regional and national bodies, particularly the NCB, British Association for Adoption and Fostering, FPI and the NSPCC are very productive. The two-way flow of knowledge and information that comes with these links has strengthened a number of research designs and analyses, as well as extended expertise in specialist fields - children’s participation, child abuse and neglect, parenting and families. International collaborative multi-site research is facilitated by research team visits, electronic conferencing and placements (e.g. with Minnesota and Leiden (adoption); Gothenburg and Bergen (foster-care); Utah (fathers and prisons); Kansas (family evaluations)).


3.5. Relationships with research users and Government Policy Initiatives

UEA’s child and family social work research has had a very high profile in shaping the Every Child Matters national policy framework (DfES/DCSF/DoH). The formation, in 2003, of a Child and Family Directorate in DfES provided an important new governmental context to our work and further opportunities for cross-disciplinary research collaboration within UEA and externally through our partnerships. Members continue to advise at the highest level of Government, across departments, including Prime Minister’s Strategy Unit and The Treasury. Extensive collaborative relationships with users, at all levels, nurture our applied, practitioner and policy relevant research agenda. Project advisory panels include service users, providers and commissioners.

A key driver for links with research users is Making Research Count, a collaborative research dissemination initiative, between social work departments at nine English Universities. UEA was one of the founding partners under Thoburn in 1997.



During 2006 the School celebrated 30 years of social work education and research. The School teaches a range of highly regarded undergraduate, postgraduate and post-qualifying programmes in social work and psychosocial sciences. Research-led teaching enhances both research and teaching in the School, in addition to promoting a social work profession that is ‘research literate’. All research-active staff in the School are engaged in teaching and administrative duties. The School’s top rankings in all National Student Surveys is testament to our ability to prioritise research without sacrificing teaching standards.

New members of staff are assigned a mentor who is a research-active senior member of the School and also undertake UEA’s Certificate in Higher Education Practice which includes guidance on research bidding and publishing. The appraisal system monitors the development of all staff. The active management of teaching loads (e.g. reduced loads for new staff) and rotating study-leave periods assist staff in advancing their research, and making applications for external funding. Locally-managed funds are available to assist staff giving presentations at conferences and for ‘pump priming’ pilot projects. Their allocation is managed by the School Research Committee.

The effectiveness of these arrangements is evident in the record of staff development over the period from 2001. There has been low turnover of staff and a high proportion of those who have remained in post have achieved promotion during the period: to Professor (O’Brien, Schofield) and to Senior Lecturer (Dickens, Neil). Colleagues who left during the period were promoted to positions in other universities (Shemmings, Trinder), or in the case of Martin Davies, retired to become an Emeritus Professor.

We have actively recruited academics who can extend the research of the School and can also contribute to taught programmes in social work and psychosocial sciences. In 2006 Crozier, a developmental psychologist, joined us from Cardiff University. Kielty, Postle and Walsh have also joined since 2001.



An analysis of research activity indicates that 2001 research targets have been more than exceeded. Our significant, original and methodologically rigorous research continues to help shape the discipline of social work internationally and nationally.

Over the next five years the main strategic aim is to build on the work of our current exceptional research leaders, while developing the research of early career staff, to advance further social work scholarship. There will continue to be an emphasis on applied, policy-relevant and practitioner-based research with the ultimate goal of enhancing the well-being of children, parents and adults in their families, communities and service user environments.

To secure sustainability and further enhance research capacity, core funding from the ESRC for the Centre for Research on the Child and Family (CRCF) will be sought by 2009. With Faculty support, the School will invest in strategic appointments to further strengthen the research infrastructure for the ESRC bid, creating a networked set of UEA children and families research activities with the CRCF at its core. It will capitalise on existing cross-disciplinary and cross-professional academic research on child welfare and well-being across UEA with economics, education, environmental sciences, health, law and psychology. This investment will enhance the School’s responsive position for future Government and Research Council priorities, in accordance with the JUC/SWEC Social Work Research Strategy in Higher Education.

We will continue to recruit home and international PhD and MA students, and PQ Social Work practitioners to our research-led teaching programmes. We will seek further interdisciplinary doctoral and post-doctoral studentships (e.g. Medical Research Council/ESRC). We will continue to disseminate policy and practice knowledge to users through our extensive local, national and international networks.

Confirmed new and ongoing grants for the post-census period, amounting to above £210,000, include:

Children’s Services and Children’s Well-being

  • DfES (-2008) Researching Adoption Support (Neil/Sellick)
  • NSPCC (-2010) Emotional Harm and Neglect (Gardner/Howe/Brandon).
  • DCSF (-2010) Biennial analysis of Serious Case Reviews (Brandon).
  • ESRC/DCSF (-2010) Foster care contracting (Sellick).

Parenting and Families

  • ESRC (-2009) Parenting while apart: the experiences of parents of children in long-term foster care, with Universities of Bergen and Gothenburg (Schofield).
  • ESRC/NFI (-2010) Youth Muslim Identity and Parenting (O’Brien).
  • BERR (2008) Fathers’ Working hours and family-employment reconciliation (O’Brien).

Adult Services

  • CSIP (-2008) Evaluation of Practice Based Commissioning (McDonald).
  • ESRC (-2011) Older Men Living Alone and their Social Relationships (McDonald).
  • SCIE (-2008) Supporting implementation of the Mental Capacity Act 2005 (McDonald).




Journal Editorships:

Dickens: Child and Family Social Work, Book Review Editor (2000-2), Editorial Board Member.

Gardner: Child Abuse Review, Guest Editor.

Howe: Child and Family Social Work, Editor (1996-2001), Editorial Board Member; Attachment and Human Development, Associate Editor.

McDonald: Social Work Monographs and Law Files, Editor; Quality in Ageing, Editorial Board Member; Ethics and Social Welfare, Advisory Board Member.

Neil: Adoption Quarterly, Guest Editor and Editorial Board Member.

O’Brien: Community, Work and Family, Guest Editor.

Postle: Practice, Editorial Board Member; International Social Work, Guest Editor.

Stone: Youth Justice; Probation Journal, regular contributor law and practice summaries.

Thoburn: Child and Family Social Work, Editor (2001-2002), Policy Review Associate Editor; Hong Kong Journal of Social Work, Consulting Editor; Journal of Social Work, Editorial Board Member.


Selection of Significant Keynote Addresses and Prestigious Public Lectures:

In the review period staff have given 200+ addresses and public lectures including:

Brandon: New Zealand Families Commission (2007).

Crozier: Centre for Child Mental Health, London (2007); SRCD, Florida (2003); ISSBD, Ghent (2004); SRCD, Atlanta, Georgia (2005).

Howe: Research on child abuse, neglect and attachment led to keynote addresses: Genoa, Milan, Dublin, London and Helsinki (2004-2007). ICAR UEA (2006).

Neil: University of Leiden, Holland, AdoptieDriehoek Onderzoekscentrum Annual Conference (2006); BAAF National Research Symposium, London (2004).

O’Brien: Childhood and Welfare Research Programme Seminar, Copenhagen (2001); National Father Forum, Bethesda (2003); Families and Poverty, Utah (2004); International Fatherhood summit, Oxford (2004); Fathers and Disability, London (2006).

Schofield: Attachment and resilience in foster care to conferences in the UK, Australia (2007), New Zealand (2007), Ireland (2006/2007), Scandinavia (2005/2007), Spain (2007).

Sellick: Fostering Network/Care & Health, London (2007); International Foster Care Organisation Conference, Buenos Aires (2003).

Thoburn: Leverhulme-funded international study led to addresses in Australia, China, Hong Kong, Italy, Japan, New Zealand and the USA.


Conferences Organised:

Bailey/Schofield: Annual Research Conference, CRCF (2001-2006); MRC annual regional conferences.

Howe/Gardner: NSPCC/UEA Research Seminars (2005, 2007).

McDonald: Annual national mental health and ageing conference.

Neil: Second International Conference on Adoption Research (2006) (funded by the Nuffield Foundation/DfES/British Academy); 150+ researcher-delegates, 25+ nationalities).

Neil/Howe: Contact after Adoption workshop (Nuffield Foundation-funded) (2003).

O’Brien: ESRC Research Seminar Series Fathers and Fatherhood - New Directions for Research and Policy (2002); International network on leave policy and research: 2nd international seminar (funded by DfES/DWP/DTI) (2005).

Schofield: Stability in Foster Care seminar (Nuffield Foundation-funded) (2003).

Trinder: International Conference on Children and Divorce (2006 funded by the Nuffield Foundation/DCA/British Academy; 120+ researcher-delegates, 20+ nationalities).


Membership of Research Councils/Similar Bodies:

McDonald: Chair, Masters Group of JUC/SWEC.

O’Brien: ESRC CASE PhD studentships Advisory Committee.

Postle: JUC/SWEC Research Committee.

Thoburn: Senior Assessor, ESRC research studentship competition; Vice Chair of the General Social Care Council; Member of GSCC Education and Training Committee.


Evidence of Esteem from User Communities:

Court invited expert witnesses: Howe, Neil and Thoburn.

Advisors: Age Concern (McDonald); Family Rights Group (Neil); Norfolk Fathers’ Workers Network (O’Brien); Fostering Network (Schofield).

Brandon: Management Committee, Norwich Contact Centre.

McDonald: Founder member, Dementia Focus.

Postle: Collaborative research with care users’ organisation, Shaping Our Lives.

Schofield: Chair of Research Advisory Group Committee, BAAF (2001-2006).

Thoburn: Patron, Hamlet Centre; Patron, Grandparents’ Federation.


Advisers on Policy and Practice:

Bailey: CAMHS services in Suffolk and Cambridgeshire, Young Minds.

Bailey/Thoburn: Ministerial advice at DCA (children’s participation).

Howe/Brandon/Gardner: Advisors to DCSF on neglect and abuse for Safeguarding guidance.

Neil: Consultancy to Government advisers drafting new adoption legislation, guidance and regulations for children adopted from care.

O’Brien: Co-Chair Charter for a Family Friendly Britain; The State of London’s Children, Advisory Group Office of Mayor of London; Fathers Expert National Reference Group for the Treasury Report Costs and Benefits of Active Fatherhood; JRF Advisory Committees (5); Young Fathers in Scotland, consultations on children’s services - Prime Minister’s Strategy Unit.

Schofield/Sellick/Thoburn: Advice White Paper Care Matters: Time for Change.

Sellick: DfES (working party report on social work practices); ESRC CASE studentship with DCSF.

Thoburn: Ministerial and Cabinet Office consultations on international children in care data in preparation for the Green Paper; advised child welfare research institutes/government agencies in Australia, Canada, France, Italy, Japan, New Zealand and USA on the analysis of children in care data; conducted three serious child protection case reviews; appointed Chair of the Jersey Child Protection Committee (2007).

Stone: Member, Parole Board for England and Wales (1997-2007); Life Sentence Review Commissioner, Northern Ireland (2001-2007).



Thoburn: CBE for services to social work; Awarded Leverhulme Emeritus Fellowship (2004-6); University of Chicago Chapin Hall International Fellowship (2002).


International Recognition:

Invited Visiting Posts Held:

Crozier: Center for Children, Relationships and Culture, University of Maryland.

Neil: University of Minnesota.

Schofield: Universities of Bergen and Gothenburg.

Thoburn: University of Verona; Chapin Hall, University of Chicago.

Collaborative Research and Visits:

Brandon, O’Brien and Thoburn: educationalists and child policy advisers to the Chilean Ministry of Education, on behalf of the British Council.

O’Brien: Day and a team of postgraduate researchers (Utah).

Neil: Wrobel and Grotevant (Minnesota); Juffer (Leiden).

International Representation:

ChildWatch International Research Centre.

Crozier: Honorary member, Italian Association for Social Anxiety Disorders.

O’Brien: One of two UK representatives, International Network on Leave Policy; Next Steps for Childrearing Research in the Caribbean (funded by The Caribbean Support Initiative Programme and the Bernard van Leer Foundation).

Sellick: ChildWatch International Childhoods conference organising committee.

Thoburn: One of two UK members of the international ‘global north/global south’ mentor group funded by the Swedish International Development Agency to assist in the development of an African child welfare research base.


Significant Contributions to Professional and Academic Associations:

Bailey: National co-ordinator for Making Research Count.

Brandon/Thoburn: Founder members, International Association for Outcome-based Evaluation and Research on Family and Children’s Services (iaOBERfcs). National experts from Europe, USA, Australia and New Zealand.

Dickens: Member, Education and Training Committee, Family Justice Council (FJC).

Neil: Elected member, BAAF Research Advisory Group Committee (2001-2006).

O’Brien: Research Advisory and Ethics Committee Member, FPI.

Schofield/Thoburn: Founder members, The President of the Family Division’s Interdisciplinary Committee (2001-2006).

Schofield: Organising committee, biennial FJC residential conference; member Norfolk FJC.