Forty Years of Research, Policy and Practice in Children's Services: A Festschrift for Roger Bullock / Edition 1

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Founded in 1963, Dartington Social Research Unit conducts scientific research into child development within the context of children's services with a view to informing interventions for children in need. Originating from a festschrift to celebrate the work of Roger Bullock, one of Dartington's first researchers and a Fellow of the Centre for Social Policy, this book from a prestigious author team examines developments in children's services over the past forty years, providing a context for future policy making. Ten key areas are covered including foster care and family support, while two overview chapters explore years of Social Research? and 'Gaps in the Knowledge and Future Challenges'.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"...provides a clear overview of the key issues in research, policy and practice in UK children's services since the 1960's." (Times Educational Supplement, 15th April,

"...the book is a delight...a useful library resource for the next generation of researchers, teachers and the makers of policy..." (Adoption & Fostering, Vol 29 (3) 2005)

"...This volume is a good demonstration of how knowledge is built and applied over a long time span. While its immediate focus is a tribute to a particular researcher, it casts light on the wider interactions between research, policy and practice..."(Research in Practice, Issue 55, August 2005)

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780470012192
  • Publisher: Wiley
  • Publication date: 4/28/2005
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 240
  • Product dimensions: 6.83 (w) x 10.02 (h) x 0.76 (d)

Meet the Author

Nick Axford has been at Dartington since 1997 after working for the Shaftesbury Society in a family centre in London. He was jointly responsible for a Department of Health study on patterns of need and service use among children living in the community, and currently works on an evaluation of an innovative programme for disaffected young people, using a random allocation design. He is joint author of a review for the Department for Education and Skills of the literature on refocusing children’s services towards prevention, and has been closely involved in developing and implementing several practice tools with clinical and planning functions. In 2003 he completed a PhD on childhood social exclusion.

Vashti Berry joined the Dartington Unit in 2001 after working on the Equal Opportunities Policy Team at Northamptonshire County Council. Prior to this she was an academic tutor at the University of Natal in Durban, South Africa. She is studying for a PhD on the differential effects of domestic violence and child abuse on children’s development, and working on a random allocation evaluation of a programme for young people who display antisocial behaviour. She has completed a small-scale study of asylum-seeking and refugee children and families in Ireland and co-authored best practice papers on user involvement and pre-school family support facilities.

Michael Little Building on an established research centre, Michael is co-founder with Roger Bullock of a collection of research, development and dissemination activities known as the Warren House Group at Dartington. At the University of Chicago’s Chapin Hall Center for Children he leads a study of child development in the context of residential education. An acknowledged expert on child protection, out of home care and youth justice Michael has also supported efforts to improve international networks of policy makers, managers, researchers and practitioners working with children in need. He holds appointments at the Universities of Bath and Chicago and is the author/joint author of 15 books and eight practice tools aimed at helping put research into practice.

Louise Morpeth moved to Dartington in 1997 after working for four years as a community health development co-ordinator with North Staffordshire Health Authority. She was jointly responsible for a Department of Health study on patterns of need and service use among children living in the community and has been involved in designing, implementing and evaluating new interventions, using need data gathered using Matching Needs and Services in a rural district in England. She has co-authored several practice tools aimed at getting research into practice, and in 2004 completed a PhD on the effects of the organisation of children’s services on outcomes for children in need.

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Read an Excerpt

Forty Years of Research, Policy and Practice in Children's Services

John Wiley & Sons

Copyright © 2005 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
All right reserved.

ISBN: 0-470-01219-6

Chapter One


Nick Axford, Vashti Berry, Michael Little and Louise Morpeth

The word 'festschrift' is German and means, literally, 'festival script'. There is a time-honoured tradition in some disciplines of academics collaborating to produce an edited collection to celebrate the distinguished career of a close colleague. Sadly, there are few such efforts in the arena of social policy and, with important exceptions (Bernstein and Brannen 1996; Green and Yule 2001), fewer still in the area of applied research into child development and children's services. The reasons for this gap are not immediately apparent, aside from different academic traditions, although one factor must be the relative infancy of the field and thus the dearth of people whose careers have spanned sufficient time to warrant having something published in their honour.

Roger Bullock is unusual, then, and it seemed appropriate to mark his official retirement with a collection of essays reflecting on changes to research, policy and practice in children's services since he started out as a young researcher in 1965. The topic areas selected are suitably diverse, reflecting the breadth of Roger's research interests, from residential and foster care to family support and the mental health of young offenders. At some point during his career, most of the kinds of children whom we would nowadays regard as 'children in need', or children at risk of social exclusion, have come under his research gaze. So, on any given day in the late 1960s Roger would no doubt have been found in a boarding school or institution for young delinquents searching through files or applying his acute observation skills to proceedings; today he is probably doing similar work but perhaps in the office of a social services team focused on supporting similar children at home.

The 40 years selected also mark a period of considerable flux in the field, both in terms of the direction of services as they have sought to respond to various factors, notably scandals and financial crises, and the role of research evidence in steering this zigzag course. In 1963 in England the Children and Young Persons Act was published, setting out an agenda for the greater use of family support to help to maintain children in their homes, and it is fitting that in 2003, the year of Roger's retirement, the government produced Every Child Matters (DfES 2003) to herald the most far-reaching reforms to services in England and Wales since the 1960s. This is pure coincidence, of course, but it provides a useful frame of reference within which to mark and weigh developments.

The book is not intended as a eulogy to Roger, although in places it may appear so, such is the regard in which he is held by his colleagues. Rather it is to mark and celebrate Roger's research career by taking a step back and reflecting on the changing relationship over 40 years between research, policy and practice in the areas that make up the new children's services. It is the focus on this relationship that, hopefully, distinguishes the volume from other reviews of the child welfare field (e.g. Hill and Aldgate 1996; Stevenson 1999; Fawcett et al. 2004). Roger was a fervent proponent of evidence-based policy and practice long before the phrase was invented. In the course of showing how research has been harnessed (and sometimes abused or ignored) in the pursuit of progress in serving vulnerable children, the contributors demonstrate, collectively, both the direct and indirect influence of evidence - the policies that follow research recommendations to the letter and those that emerge from findings and perspectives that clarify and aid the understanding of complex issues.

In pursuing these aims, the book also provides to some extent an insight into the contribution of a specific research centre, namely the Dartington Social Research Unit. This is unavoidable to the extent that Roger is and always has been associated with Dartington: indeed, to many the two are synonymous. But Dartington, of course, has always been a collection of people and its role, along with that of similar centres, such as the Thomas Coram Research Unit in London, in shaping social policy in relation to children could be the subject of another book - one that Roger is gently being encouraged to research and write.

As editors of the volume we are acutely conscious that some people reading the book will not know Roger Bullock or be familiar with his work. Rather than go into this here, sections at the end of the book chart the main landmarks in his career (Appendix A) and his major publications (Appendix B). The remainder of this introductory chapter sets out how contributors and chapter themes were selected and the brief that authors were given, before summarising in turn the focus of each chapter.

As noted above, Roger has turned his attention over the years to children with various types of need and who are served by all of the main agencies that comprise children's services - social care, health, education, police, youth justice and voluntary organisations. Although his expertise is by no means uniform across these areas, the new world of children's services heralded by Every Child Matters means that it makes sense to cover in some way all of the aforementioned areas. Authors were selected for their own expertise in the area and also because of their personal connections with Roger, forged through working together closely in a variety of settings over the years. All were extremely keen to participate and have worked with us patiently in bringing the project to fruition. We are grateful to them all.

By virtue of being written by different people and covering different topic areas, the chapters are all unique in their emphases and style. However, as requested, all provide an overview of developments in research, policy and practice in their area over the past 40 years, and all reflect on the contribution of Roger (and Dartington) to these changes. There is also consideration of how the research community, together with policy-makers and practitioners, can further children's well-being in those areas, with some of the key messages brought together in the final chapter. It is hoped that a range of people will find this book useful - undergraduates and experienced researchers, frontline practitioners and central government policy-makers, those working in the UK and those based in other countries. Whether the contributions in themselves offer any new theories, evidence or understanding is for others to judge - it would be a tall order in the space provided and given the parameters of the brief - but individually each one offers a useful summary of progress, and it is envisaged that, collectively, they will stimulate both the debate and actions required to improve services and so achieve better outcomes for children in need.

The book is structured, loosely, in the chronological order of Roger's research interests. Inevitably this is somewhat artificial, given that he has often been involved in several projects at once and returns continually to territory covered earlier in an attempt to open up new paths. But it is logical and also, to some extent, reflects broader shifts in children's services research over the 40 years covered: from the focus on children in institutions or those cared for away from their home or natural parents, through a growing acknowledgement of the wider needs of such children, to research into children with complex needs who live in the community and are supported at home. The chapters on discrete topics are book-ended by more broad-sweeping contributions considering, respectively, changes in social research since the 1960s (Chapter 2), the implications for children's services of the growing international agenda in social policy research and policy (Chapter 12), connections between social research and the creative arts (Chapter 13) and how the Research Unit at Dartington is seeking to adapt to a changing context (Chapter 14).


Following this introductory chapter, Roy Parker provides a commentary on changes in social research in the UK from the 1960s to today (Chapter 2). The first section starts at about the time that when Roger obtained his first appointment, asking why social research was on the threshold of a new era. It considers political factors, such as the promotion of more effective economic and social planning and changes to the funding and administration of higher education, as well as technological innovations. Parker assesses the significance of these developments against the backdrop of the state of social research before the mid-1960s. Here he focuses on the funding of studies, the availability of statistics and other secondary material and the existence of campaigning organisations committed to assembling and utilising research evidence. He notes that high quality work on child care was 'extremely thin on the ground' in 1965.

The second section of Roy Parker's chapter discusses the salient changes that influenced the climate of social research from the 1960s onwards. Those selected are: changes in the position of research in the universities; the reorientation of the Social Science Research Council; the enhanced role of central government in promoting studies; and the academic move away from a positivist approach to research. The third section considers the present state of social research in the child care sector and compares it with what has gone before. Particular attention is paid to the quantity and scope of the research and to its nature - for example, the kinds of questions that are being asked and the degree of interdisciplinary collaboration. Strengths and weaknesses are identified. Parker also explores the extent to which research and dissemination activities have had an impact on policy and practice in children's services. The chapter ends by considering changes that are likely to affect the climate in which social and, in particular, child care research is conducted. It focuses on the administration and funding of research, changes in government vis-a-vis departmental responsibility for children's services and the role of conviction politics.


As noted earlier, Roger's research career began with studies of residential education, specifically boarding and approved schools: The Hothouse Society (Lambert and Millham 1968) and After Grace - Teeth (Millham et al. 1975). With this in mind, Ewan Anderson reviews the fundamental and virtually continuous change in education in Britain over the past 40 years (Chapter 3). He describes the broadening and deepening of education until 1979, highlighting themes such as the promotion of greater access and the introduction of more progressive teaching practices. He then charts the reorientation since the early 1980s towards preparing children for the world of work. Anderson offers a critical perspective on reforms in the period, focusing on the curriculum, inclusion and the introduction to education of market- and business-driven ideas.

Anderson's chapter moves on to assess the contribution of Roger and the Dartington Unit to the area. It draws on those publications of Roger's that focus on residential settings and education, noting their influence on research methodology, conceptual thinking, and policy and practice. Anderson highlights in particular the holistic perspective adopted in the publications, with their acknowledgement of the value of expressive as well as instrumental goals, and the way in which they sought to relate outputs and outcomes to the intention of the intervention. The chapter closes by describing how the work has since been taken forward and notes the central place of education in the new children's services.

Roger is perhaps best known for his work on the residential care of children, notably books such as The Chance of a Lifetime? (Lambert et al. 1975) and Structure, Culture and Outcome (Brown et al. 1998). Roger Clough's contribution (Chapter 4) begins with some personal reflections on hallmarks of work by the Dartington Unit, and Roger Bullock in particular, including the often imaginative style of writing and presenting material, the drawing on sociology to interpret phenomena and the willingness to listen to children's accounts of their experiences. It then charts several seminal studies of residential homes since the 1960s and shows how Dartington's research fits into this context, noting in particular its attempt to describe how places are different from one another and also to explain what leads to different outcomes.

The next section identifies key themes emerging from residential child care research in the UK. It sets out some of what is known about the effectiveness of residential homes, the factors that are conducive to good outcomes for children and how patterns of caring for children away from home in the UK have changed in the last 40 years. Clough then summarises what he sees as the strengths and limitations of this research, considering themes such as the style of regime in children's homes, the level of institutional abuse, the evaluation of long-term outcomes and the effect on children of the size of homes. The chapter closes with some reflections on how the links between research, policy and practice as regards residential child care might be strengthened.

Of course, children live in various kinds of institutions, including secure accommodation, and Roger has been involved in several studies of antisocial behaviour by young people and attempts by society to deal with it, in particular Locking Up Children (Millham et al. 1978) and Secure Treatment Outcomes (Bullock et al. 1998). In Chapter 5, Henri Giller examines the extent to which developments in the youth (previously juvenile) justice field over a 40-year period have been influenced by three themes that are the hallmark of Roger's work, namely: the impact of research on policy and practice developments; the appreciation of the need for a 'whole system' approach to social interventions; and a practice context in which services are matched to needs.

Giller's chapter begins by summarising changes in youth justice in England and Wales since the 1960s, looking in particular at the extent to which reforms exhibit a punitive or welfare-orientated outlook and the relative influence on them of research, political debate and economic constraints. It then focuses on initiatives introduced by the Labour government since 1997, in particular the Youth Justice Board and Youth Offending Teams. Giller sets out evidence regarding their impact, demonstrating advances in terms of greater consistency in pre-court decisions, the reduced use of custody and the secure estate and, generally, practice becoming more evidence based. The chapter concludes that there have been significant gains but also notes ongoing challenges, including the prevention of youth crime and the problems associated with placing young people in secure settings (especially given the inauspicious political context for progressive reforms in this area).

It is easy in an area such as youth justice to become preoccupied with administrative categories, such as 'locked-up', or the primary reason for a young person entering the system, namely crime. Roger has consistently encouraged a more holistic perspective and a focus on the child's needs in all areas of his or her life. Sue Bailey's contribution (Chapter 6) is therefore about the mental health of young offenders, in particular those in secure care. It starts by noting recent developments in child and adolescent mental health services (CAMHS) in the UK, including the push towards multi-agency working and evidence-based provision. Next, it charts the changing pattern of custodial options for and attitudes towards young offenders since the early nineteenth century, identifying both a growing recognition in policy circles of those young people's mental health needs and also concerted attempts by health and youth justice agencies to work together to address them. The chapter then reviews briefly some of the research into links between the mental health, social well-being and delinquency of young people detained in locked institutions and discusses the impact of those regimes.


Excerpted from Forty Years of Research, Policy and Practice in Children's Services Copyright © 2005 by John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Table of Contents

List of Contributors.

About the Cover.



1. Introduction (Nick Axford, Vashti Berry, Michael Little and Louise Morpeth).

2. Then and Now (Roy Parker).


3. Forty Years of Educational Change (Ewan Anderson).

4. Children in Residence (Roger Clough).

5. Reforming Juvenile Justice (Henri Giller).

6. Young Offenders, Mental Health and Secure Care (Sue Bailey).

7. Stability through Adoption for Children in Care (June Thoburn).

8. Going Home or Staying Away (Ian Sinclair).

9. Child Protection (David Berridge).

10. The Evolution of Family Support (Michael Little and Ruth Sinclair).

11. Research into the Family Justice System (Mervyn Murch and Douglas Hooper).


12. European Developments in Juvenile Delinquency and Juvenile Justice (Peter van der Laan and Monika Smit).

13. Creative Arts and Social Research (Roger Bullock).

14. Where Next for Social Research at Dartington? (Nick Axford and Louise Morpeth).

15. Messages for Research, Policy and Practice in Children’s Services (Nick Axford, Vashti Berry, Michael Little, Jill Madge and Louise Morpeth).

Appendix A: Roger Bullock – A Brief Biography.

Appendix B: Roger Bullock’s Main Publications.


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