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.
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.
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.
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.