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We are delighted to announce new funding at the Rees Centre from Diverse Care for The Hazel Project research, which builds on our work focused on teenagers in fostering placements.

The first incarnation of the Hazel Project began in the 1970s with the development and introduction of a placement project for adolescents in Kent (1974-1979). This project aimed to arrange foster placements for adolescents thought likely to benefit from a fostering environment. The Hazel Project was developed at a time when fostering for adolescents was not conceived of as a wholly viable option, with residential group care being the dominant placement type and the level of foster family breakdown at a high.

The Hazel Project research at the Rees Centre  – in collaboration with Diverse Care – will explore, contemporarily, the promises and constituents of effective specialist and therapeutic fostering for adolescents. The research will also address re-emerging debates around the professionalisation of fostering and how best to meet the needs of adolescents within the family environment.

Dr Caroline Cresswell, who joined the Rees Centre in April will conduct an extensive systematic review in the area, the findings of which will be disseminated to contribute to persistent debates and the development of policy and practice concerning looked after adolescents. Caroline will be joined by a DPhil student in October 2020, whose research will contribute to the field.

OUCEA is happy to announce that Kristine Gorgen successfully defended her thesis online on 24th April, subject to revisions. The thesis Welcoming and Othering- civic education for adult immigrants in Germany and the United Kingdom, supervised by Prof. Therese N. Hopfenbeck and Assoc. Prof. Liam Gearon, focused on citizenship test and the preparation courses for such test in Germany and the United Kingdom. Kristine investigated the content and structure of civic education, identifying narratives of the national self and the immigrant other therein. Whilst spending the autumn of 2017 as a visiting researcher at WZB Social Science Research Centre in Berlin, she completed her data collection (observations and interviews) in Germany with subsequent data collection in England. The  examiners were: Dr Mary Richardson (UCL IOE) and Dr David Johnson (Oxford University).

Dr Ellie Ott and Professor Harriet Ward from the Rees Centre will work in partnership with colleagues at Lancaster University to produce evidence informed guidelines to inform practice when babies are removed at birth through care proceedings.

The new project, launched today, will be led by Professor Karen Broadhurst.

The team will develop guidelines over the next 18 months, working closely with health and social work professionals and with birth parents.

The guidelines will then be piloted in eight local authorities and health trusts during a six-month period and used in at least 30 child protection cases involving newborn babies. The ambition is for the guidelines to be adopted and developed into guidance by local authorities, health authorities, the police and the judiciary throughout England and Wales, and for local authorities and the judiciary to understand why so many infants are being taken into care and to explore measures to prevent this.

More information about the project


The inaugural Rees Centre Annual Lecture 2019 was delivered by a panel of speakers on the topic of school exclusions and issues for looked after and adopted children.

Harry Daniels, Professor of Education at Oxford spoke about wide disparities in rates of official school exclusions across Scotland, Wales, England and North Ireland and outlined new research from a multidisciplinary group that will take a holistic view of exclusions and consider their consequences for young people, their families, schools and other professionals.  Alison Woodhead from Adoption UK considered issues that adopted children and families experience related to school exclusions. Lisa Cherry, author and trainer, spoke of her own experiences and provided insights into research she has carried out looking at impacts on education and employment of care experienced adults who left care in the 1970s and 1980s and were excluded from school.

The full recording of the event is available here.

The Rees Centre was pleased and privileged to contribute to The Care Experienced Conference at Liverpool Hope University and the recently published Research and Academic Group Report.

This special edition (open access until Feb 2020) presents a range of research reported at the ESRC Seminar Series on Fostering Teenagers, co-hosted by the Rees Centre. Each paper is followed by a commentary by a care-experienced young person. Topics include parenting styles, transitions to adulthood, child sexual exploitation, fostering unaccompanied asylum seeking young people, young people in custody and the needs of LGBTQ and separated teenagers.

Special Issue: Child & Family Social Work, volume 24, issue 3, July 2019

All the articles in this special edition are open access until Feb 2020.

A snapshot of our activities over the last 2 months.

Rees Centre newsletter for July:

Including launch of outcomes framework funded by the Nuffied Foundation.

Last month Professor Nancy Perry, Dorothy Lam Chair in Special Education and Professor of Educational and Counselling Psychology and Special Education at the University of British Columbia, delivered the OUCEA Annual Lecture on Using Formative Assessment to Catalyse Self- Regulated Learning. 

Nancy’s lecture is available in full length here.

Kit Double, Joshua McGrane, Jamie Stiff and Therese N. Hopfenbeck have published an article in the British Educational Research Journal entitled “The importance of early phonics improvements for predicting later reading comprehension”.

The article builds upon the centre’s work for PIRLS 2016, and investigates how student performance on the year 1 phonics screening check in England predicts their performance in the key stage 1 reading assessment the following year, as well as in the PIRLS reading comprehension test four years later. The article explores the benefits of early interventions and further checks of phonics skills on improving later reading comprehension outcomes, particularly for students who fail to meet the ‘expected standard’ in the initial phonics screening check.

To view the full article in the British Educational Research Journal, please click here.