Dr Deborah Crook

Dr. Deborah Crook

Research Fellow, The Centre for Children and Young People’s Participation

School of Social Work, Care and Community

Eden Building, ER126

+44 (0) 1772 89 3886


Subject Areas: Education, Social Work

Deborah carries out research to build understandings of children’s lives, experiences and hopes for the future. She uses participatory approaches to support children and young people to create spaces of change through which they can influence practice, policy and academic research by creating accessible evidence. 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. Deborah is an active Member of the Centre for Children and Young People’s Participation.

Full Profile

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.  These collaborative projects include ‘The Asthma Files’ an intervention developed with a multidisciplinary team of 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’ a 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. Websites 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 experience has enabled her to contribute to a range of funded projects at UCLan and other institutions. Research work at UCLan includes 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’ real lived experience and perspectives. Children were engaged in their own group research, with adults from their communities, which enabled them to shape spaces in their classrooms for change.  This provides an original approach to understanding the multifarious influences on children’s participation in complex school systems and their potential for emergence and change.

Teaching Activities

Deborah contributes to teaching modules including:  Global Perspectives on Children’s Participation; Research for Specialist Professional Practice; Action Research and Community Project Supervision; and Children, Schools and Families.


  • European Sociological Association RN04 Sociology of Children and Childhood.
  • International Association for the Study of Cooperation in Education.


  • School is just a problem. All they care about is the A grades.’ How children overcome barriers to their educational journeys. Paper presented at the European Sociological Association conference, ‘Europe and Beyond: Boundaries, Barriers and Belonging,’ Manchester,  20th-23rd August 2019.
  • LYC and Knife Crime: Stop Blaming. Start Listening. Crook, D.J. and Crook, I. with Lancashire Youth Council. Paper presented at ‘Collaboration, creativity and complexities: developing networks and practices of co-production with children and young people’ conference, Manchester Metropolitan University, 26th- 27th June 2019.
  • Children, Participation and Education: Does ‘How We Know’ Matter? Paper presented at the ESA RN04 Sociology of Childhood ‘Theorising Childhood Engaging with Citizenship, Culture and Context Conference,’ conference, Lisbon (Portugal) 23rd - 25th May 2018
  • Transforming Classroom Spaces through Intergenerational Inquiry. Paper presented at the International Paulo Freire Conference, UCLan, Larnaca, Cyprus, 8-9 September 2017.
  • To Reflect or reflect? Building intergenerational relationships for change. Paper presented at the 13th Conference of the European Sociological Association, Athens, 29 August – 1st September 2017.
  • Participatory Classrooms: What happens when children and adults work together for change? Paper presented at Bangor Interdisciplinary Conference on Childhood and Youth, Bangor University, 30th June 2017.
  • Is Al Really Worth More than Jo? Transforming Schools through Intergenerational Relationships. Centre for Children and Young People’s Participation Seminar Series ‘Enabling children and young people’s participation – the role of adults and their relationship with children,’ University of Central Lancashire, 26 April 2017.

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The Centre for Children and Young People’s Participation


Current research projects: Re-writing the Future, enabling young people to create narratives concerning their aspirations and attitudes to HE, funded by HEFCE; Children Leading on Reading, a pilot study considering influences on children reading for pleasure.


Deborah is a qualitative researcher with research interests in children’s and young people’s participation; sociology of education; complexity; disadvantaged children’s and young people’s life narratives.