Professor Judy Sebba

Judy came to the Department in 2012 to direct the Rees Centre for Research in Fostering and Education (Director, Sep 2012-Dec 2017). Under her leadership, the Centre has become known nationally and internationally for its research into improving the life outcomes of children in care.

See the Rees Centre website for details of research projects.

Previously Judy was Director of Research and Knowledge Exchange in the School of Education and Social Work at the University of Sussex and Director of the Centre for Inquiry and Research in Cognition, Learning and Teaching.

In 2009, she was Visiting Professor at the University of Toronto with the Knowledge Mobilisation Team, researching the mediation and impact of research in policy and public services. She was a member of the 2008 RAE panel and an impact assessor for the REF 2014 sub-panel for Education. In 2011, she was conferred the award of Academician of the Academy of Social Sciences.

From 1997-2003 Judy was Senior Adviser (Research), Standards and Effectiveness Unit Department for Education and Skills, responsible for advising ministers on the research strategy and quality of research relating to schools. She also worked on the relationship between special educational needs and the standards agenda. During this period, Judy was involved in setting up the ‘EPPI centre’ to develop systematic reviews in education and subsequently was involved in extending this to social work and social care. 

In 2011-12, she directed National College research on Teaching School Alliances for ‘Improving outcomes through effective knowledge transfer’ which led to publication of 5 case studies, review Joint Practice Development: What does the evidence suggest are effective approaches? and a ‘guide’ for school leaders Powerful Professional Learning.

Current role at the Rees Centre includes designing and supporting others designing research and evaluations in children’s services mainly, on education-social care linkage, mental health, fostering/adoption and UASC.

In 2014-16, she led the Rees Evaluation coordination team for the DfE’s Children’s Social Care Innovation Programme overseeing the development of evaluation designs that were both appropriate and challenging across the whole area of children’s services. This included improving the evidence base, actively encouraging more RCTs, secondary data analysis, cost benefit analysis and triangulation across data.

Recent/current evaluations include The Greater London Authority Fostering Achievement Programme, the Attachment Awareness in Schools Programme in Birmingham, Stoke, Bath and Leicestershire and the Step Down from residential care programme in Birmingham City Council funded by a Social Impact Bond.


  • Coleman, J, Vellacott, J, Solari, G, Solari, M, Luke, N, Sebba, J (2016) Teenagers in Foster Care. Oxford, England: Rees Centre/University of Oxford/University of Bedfordshire/University of Gothenburg.

  • Caw, J, Sebba, J (2013) Team Parenting for Children in Foster Care A Model for Integrated Therapeutic Care. Jessica Kingsley Publishers.

  • Rickinson, M, Sebba, J, Edwards, A (2011) Improving research through user engagement.

Book chapters

  • Sebba, J (2012) “Policy and practice in assessment for learning: The experience of selected OECD countries”, In: Assessment and Learning. 157-170

  • Sebba, J (2007) “Enhancing impact on policymaking through increasing user engagement in research”, In: Educational Research and Policy-Making: Exploring the Border Country Between Research and Policy. 127-143

Journal articles

  • Sebba, J (2013) “An exploratory review of the role of research mediators in social science”, EVIDENCE & POLICY. 9(3) 391-408.

  • Dunne, M, Humphreys, S, Dyson, A, Sebba, J, Gallannaugh, F, Muijs, D (2011) “The teaching and learning of pupils in low-attainment sets”, Curriculum Journal. 22(4) 485-513.

  • Sebba, J, Peacock, A, Difinizio, A, Johnson, M (2011) “Personalisation and special educational needs: Policy Paper 5, Sixth Series, October 2009 Journal of Research in Special Educational Needs, - Journal of Research in Special Educational Needs, -”, Journal of Research in Special Educational Needs.

  • Robinson, C, Sebba, J (2010) “Personalising learning through the use of technology”, COMPUTERS & EDUCATION. 54(3) 767-775.

  • Edwards, A, Sebba, J, Rickinson, M (2007) “Working with users: some implications for educational research”, BRITISH EDUCATIONAL RESEARCH JOURNAL. 33(5) 647-661.

  • Sebba, J (2000) “Education: Using research evidence to reshape practice”, PUBLIC MONEY & MANAGEMENT. 20(4) 8-10.

  • Sebba, JC, Luke, N, Berridge, D “The educational progress of young people in out-of-home care”, Developing Practice: the child youth and family work journalE Fernandez (ed.) .


  • Plumridge, G, Sebba, JC (2017) “Birmingham City Council’s (SIB) Step Down Programme Evaluation - Report of the Preliminary Findings.”, In: Birmingham City Council’s (SIB) Step Down Programme Evaluation - Report of the Preliminary Findings. Oxford: The Rees Centre.

  • Meakings, S, Sebba, JC, Luke, N (2017) “What is known about the placement and outcomes of siblings in foster care? An international literature review.”, In: What is known about the placement and outcomes of siblings in foster care? An international literature review.. Oxford: The Rees Centre.

  • Sebba, JC (2017) “Evaluation of the Siblings Together Buddy Project”, In: Evaluation of the Siblings Together Buddy Project. Oxford: The Rees Centre.

  • Plumridge, G, Sebba, JC (2016) The impact of unproven allegations on foster carers. Oxford: The Rees Centre University of Oxford.

  • Sebba, JC, Luke, N, Rees, A, Plumridge, G, Rodgers, L, Hafesji, K, Rowsome-Smith, C (2016) “Evaluation of the London Fostering Achievement Programme”, In: Evaluation of the London Fostering Achievement Programme. Oxford: The Rees Centre.

  • Sebba, JC, Berridge, D, Luke, N, Fletcher, J, Bell, K, Strand, S, Thomas, S, Sinclair, I, O'Higgins, A (2015) The Educational Progress of Looked After Children in England: Linking Care and Educational Data. Oxford: Rees Centre & Bristol University.

  • O'Higgins, AA, Sebba, J, Luke, N (2015) What is the impact of being in care on the educational outcomes of children? An international systematic review.

  • Luke, N, Sinclair, I, Woolgar, M, Sebba, JC (2014) What works in preventing and treating poor mental health in looked after children?. London and Oxford: NSPCC/The Rees Centre.

  • Cosis Brown, H, Sebba, JC, Luke, N (2014) The role of the supervising social worker in foster care. Oxford: The Rees Centre.

  • Höjer, I, Sebba, JC, Luke, N (2014) The impact of fostering on foster carers’ children. Oxford: The Rees Centre.

  • Luke, N, Sebba, JC (2014) Effective parent and child fostering. Oxford: The Rees Centre.

  • Sebba, J, Orr, D, Westbrook, J, Pryor, J, Durrani, N, Adu-Yeboah, C (2013) What are the impacts and cost effectiveness of strategies to improve performance of untrained and under-trained teachers in the classroom in developing countries? A systematic review.

  • Sebba, J, Luke, N (2013) Supporting each other: An international literature review on peer contact between foster carers. Oxford: Rees Centre, University of Oxford.

  • Sebba, J, Luke, N (2013) How are Foster Carers Selected? An international literature review of instruments used within foster care selection. Oxford: Rees Centre.

  • Sebba, J, Aynsley, S, Brown, C (2012) RSA Opening Minds: an evaluative review. London: RSA.

  • Sebba, J (2012) Why do people become foster carers?. Oxford: Rees Centre.

  • Sebba, J, Kent, P, Altendorff, L, Kent, G, Boaler, J (2011) Raising Expectations and Achievement Levels for all Mathematics Students (REALMS): final report to the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation. London: Esmée Fairbairn.

  • Sebba, J, Gazeley, L, Aynsley, S, Jacklin, A (2011) Evaluation of the Villiers Park Scholars Programme. Foxton: Villiers Park Educational Trust.

  • Sebba, J, Robinson, C (2010) Evaluation of UNICEF UK’s Rights Respecting Schools Award. London: UNICEF UK.

  • Sebba, J (2009) Youth-led innovation: enhancing the skills and capacity of the next generation of innovators. London: NESTA.

  • Sebba, J, Crick, RD, Yu, G, Lawson, H, Harlen, W, Durant, K (2008) Systematic review of research evidence of the impact on students in secondary schools of self and peer assessment. London: EPPI.

  • Sebba, J, Robinson, C, Higgins, S, Mackrill, D (2008) Personalising learning: the learner perspective and their influence on demand. Coventry: Becta.

  • Sebba, J, Fielding, M, Carnie, F (2008) Portsmouth Learning Community: final report on the partnership between Portsmouth Local Authority and University of Sussex.


  • Department staff

College affiliation

  • Green Templeton College


  • Professor
  • Rees Centre for Research in Fostering and Education

01865 274001

Publications, books and other work