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Dr Deborah Crook

Research Fellow
School of Social Work, Care and Community
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Deborah is a qualitative researcher who carries out research to build understandings of children’s lives, experiences and hopes for the future. Her research interests include children and young people’s participation rights, sociology of education and children and young people’s experiences of education. She uses participatory approaches to support children and young people to create and understand spaces of change through which they can influence practice, policy and academic research by creating accessible evidence.

Deborah is an active Member of the Centre for Children and Young People’s Participation. Having experience in the school sector, Deborah is developing participatory approaches that can enable disadvantaged children and young people, to positively exercise their rights to influence matters that affect them, such as their everyday school lives, and shape education systems through which they can flourish. Current work involves narrative, fiction and arts-based methodologies to tell stories that reflect the realities of young people’s lives including looked after children; young people led research with Lancashire Youth Council and Lancashire schools; exploring models of facilitating young people’s participation through schools.

Deborah’s academic career draws on interconnecting knowledge and skills from previous experiences as a teacher and as director and digital-media developer for her own company, creating educational, user oriented solutions, especially in children’s health. Her education experience spans secondary, primary, pre-school and voluntary sector education through arts, technology and interdisciplinary working. She has a particular interest in how such education can contribute to health and well-being. Collaborative projects include ‘The Asthma Files’ a multimedia intervention developed with medical, nursing, psychology and research staff from Nottingham University and multimedia practitioners in conjunction with the National Asthma Campaign and an advisory group of young people with asthma; ‘All About Diabetes’ with Nottingham Hospitals NHS Trust funded by Merck, Sharp and Dohme; and ‘Guide to Living Independently’ for LCC with looked after young people about to leave care. Website design included work with the government Health Development Agency to help young people identify bias in websites, and the ‘Wired for Health’ suite of health education sites that were the fore-runners to Healthy Schools. This experiences were consolidated through an MA Child Health and Social Care and PhD, 2017 and have enabled Deborah to contribute to a range of funded projects at UCLan and other institutions. Research work at UCLan includes ‘Re-writing the Future’ funded by FutureU; Stories2Connect; an evaluation of LCC Early Intervention for Domestic Abuse; Safeguarding Teenage Intimate Relationships; and an Evidence Synthesis for Lancashire County Council’s Fairness Commission. Deborah’s interests in education and social policy are reflected in her PhD study ‘Children and the transformation of schools: enabling participation through intergenerational work’ June 2017. This considered interdisciplinary understandings of children’s rights, education, childhood and complexity locating these in plausible practice that takes meaningful account of school communities’ lived experience and perspectives. Children were engaged in their own cooperative research, with adults from their communities, which enabled them to shape spaces in their classrooms for change. This provided an original approach to understanding the multifarious influences on children’s participation in complex school systems and their potential for emergence.

  • PhD ‘Children and the transformation of schools: enabling participation through intergenerational work,’ University of Central Lancashire, 2017
  • MA Child Health and Social Care, University of Central Lancashire, 2010
  • PGCE (11-18) Textiles and Technology, Bretton Hall College of the University of Leeds, 1994
  • BA (Hons) Textiles, WSCAD Farnham, 1991
  • Children and young people’s participation rights.
  • Participation rights in education.
  • Children and Young People’s Participation and weel-being.
  • Paticipatory and creative research methods.
  • European Sociological Association RN04 Sociology of Children and Childhood.
  • International Association for the Study of Cooperation in Education.