Current work

Outcomes for care-experienced and estranged students in higher education

I am contributing to a project funded by the Unite Foundation and led by Jacqueline Stevenson at Sheffield Hallam University, which aims to explore higher eduUNITE-300x217cation outcomes for care-experienced and estranged students.  The project will be talking to current students, university staff, relevant charities and other organisations to come up with better ways of supporting these groups to thrive.

My particular element of the project is to analyse the national data that are available on graduate employment for care-experienced students once they have completed higher education.  To the best of my knowledge, this has not been looked at before, so it will be interesting to find out more about what happens as they enter the labour market.  The report will be published in autumn 2019.

As an aside, I became a trustee of the National Network for the Education of Care Leavers in April 2019 and I am looking forward to contributing to their work with university staff and others engaged in outreach and support for care leavers and other care-experienced students.


Alex Timpson attachment and trauma programme in schools

The Rees Centre is managing a five-year project on behalf of the Alex Timpson Trust focused on supporting schools to develop attachment and trauma awareness among their staff.  Since arriving at the University of Oxford, I have taken on the strategic leadership of the programme, which started in summer 2017.The-Alex-Timpson-Trust-Logo-main

The programme aims to work with 300 schools across England, working through the ‘virtual schools’ – the organisations within local authorities that have responsibility for the education of children in care.  Each virtual school is identifying a cohort of schools to receive training on attachment and trauma, with an evaluation of the impact in terms of wellbeing, attainment and attendance.  Data is being collected from school staff and pupils through online surveys, and we will also be analysing administrative data from the participating schools.

The purpose of the training is to make teachers and other school staff – from headteachers to lunchtime supervisors – aware of the impact that adverse childhood experiences such as neglect can have on the formation of the brain and how this affects how children form relationships with adults and how they behave.  There is growing evidence that ‘attachment aware’ schools have better outcomes by helping children to self-regulate their emotions and build trusting relationships – the aim of the programme is to add to this evidence.

For more about attachment in schools, see this video from the Attachment Research Community (ARC):


New edited book: marginalised communities in higher education

I am currently working on a book for the series produced by the Society for Research into Higher Education and published by Routledge.  The book, which is being co-edited with Graeme Atherton of NEON, is tentatively titled ‘Marginalised communities in higher education: disadvantage, mobility and indigeneity’ and is scheduled to include twelve chapters focusing on social groups that find themselves with restricted access to higher education – these include students with caring responsibilities, refugees, rural communities, ethnic groups with a history of migration and indigenous peoples.  The book should be published in summer 2020.

I previously co-edited a book in this series with Anna Mountford-Zimdars – entitled ‘Access to higher education: theoretical perspectives and contemporary challenges’, it was published in December 2016.