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Dr Zoe O'Riordan

Senior Lecturer
School of Social Work, Care and Community

Zoe teaches across child-related undergraduate and postgraduate courses within the School of Social Work Care and Community. Her teaching focuses on theories of childhood and inclusion, reflect her research interests. Zoe's research to date has focused the transitional experiences of children with behavioural difficulties and the ways that children think about childhood.

Zoe is course leader for our MA Professional Practice with Children and Young People and PgC Safeguarding Children. She also teaches the BA (Hons) Children, Schools and Families. As a researcher, she is a member of the Centre for Children's Participation and is currently developing a school-based, participatory research project. Zoe is currently working on research exploring children's relationship with the concept of childhood, and the ways they feel about being labelled as a 'child'. She is also developing a new project, working on increasing participation, and children's sense of their capacity to create change, within schools.

Zoe’s work experience, in special education and youth work, has led to her developing an interest in vulnerable young people who live on the margins of society. Her PhD explored the experiences of school-leavers with social, emotional and behavioural difficulties. She is particularly interested in the in the role of identity and transitions in the development of social, emotional and behavioural difficulties, and their alleviation. Through her research she aimed to understand the ways these young people are supported and so to identify ways of improving their outcomes. More recently, Zoe has become interested in the ways children think about childhood, and their relationship with the label 'child'. This research has highlighted the extent to which children experience powerlessness as an inherent part of being a child, leading Zoe to want to conduct participatory work with schools to increase children's sense of themselves as rights-bearing citizens. Zoe's work experience, along with her research, inform all her teaching, both in terms of the content of her teaching and the ways that she works with students. The MA Professional Practice with Children and Young People is run in partnership with students, so that they experience participation, as well as learning about it. At the level of the individual, Zoe builds relationships with students that recognise them as people, not just students. This approach has resulted in her students nominating Zoe for their Golden Roses Awards every year.

  • PgC Online and Distance Learning, 2019
  • PhD Education, University of Manchester, 2011
  • MSc Educational Research, University of Manchester, 2008
  • BA Childhood and Youth Studies, Open University, 2006
  • Social construction of childhood
  • children as a minority group
  • children's participation in service development
  • Fellow of the Higher Education Academy