Aoife O’Higgins is a social scientist whose research at the Rees Centre focusses on the education of children in care.
Her doctoral work established a risk and promotive factor framework for looking at the education of children in care, by applying advanced statistical methods to a large Canadian database of children in care. A particular emphasis in her doctoral research was the involvement of foster and kinship carers in the education of children and how this was associated with school outcomes. Following on from her DPhil, Aoife is now involved in an ESRC funded randomised controlled trial of a reading intervention with foster carers, looking at whether teaching foster carers how to read with the child in their care can improve that child’s literacy. In parallel, Aoife is developing a research project centred on the care and education of refugee children in England.
Aoife’s interest in the education of children in care developed from her front-line work as an advocate for unaccompanied refugee children in London. She had over 10 years’ experience working with children and young people in charities and local authorities before returning to academia, obtaining an MSc in Evidence Based Social Interventions (University of Oxford) and an MA in Refugee Studies (University of East London) before her DPhil (University of Oxford, 2018). As well as her research at the Rees Centre, she is also currently the project co-ordinator for Oxford Refugee Health Initiative and Vice Chair of Governors at St Francis Primary School, in East Oxford.