Social Work and Social Practice Research

Research in the Department of Childhood, Social Work and Social Care explores topics including social work, social care, early childhood education and care, management and leadership.

Our main research centre is the Centre for Workforce Development, which covers our research, consultancy, knowledge transfer and continuing professional development (CPD) activities.

Centre for Workforce Development

The Centre for Workforce Development is a central hub for associated research, applied research, consultancy, knowledge transfer and continuing professional development (CPD) across the department.

Workforce development can be defined as encompassing a range of strategies at the systemic, organisational and individual level (Roche et al, 2002) “In order to develop the people in an organisation to improve the way they deliver services and activities”

We have success, experience and scope for incentivising key workforce development strategies in the following within the context of the NHS, health, child protection, early childhood education and care, and social care.

Our research topics include:

  • Building resilience
  • Mentorship and Coaching
  • Action Learning

Research Activity

Our most developed research expertise is in subjects relating to early childhood, social work and social care which incorporate inter-professional working, transformations and leadership in the public sector workforce. Our remit is to apply research findings to the changing environment of welfare policy and practice.

Our department research strategy is delivered under the Social Policy umbrella to support and increase the outputs of research-active staff and to meet the aims of the Research Excellence Framework and the Teaching Excellence Framework. Staff are engaged in a wide range of discipline related interests, linked to workforce development, which strengthen our research and education offer.

Recent individual and co-authored publications include books and journal articles on topics such as:

  • Neuroscience
  • Race and racism
  • Culturally sensitive practice
  • Disability
  • Mental health
  • Child abuse
  • Child sexual exploitation
  • End of life care
  • Resilience in the workplace
  • Inter-professional team working
  • Post-humanism in practice
  • Organisational and workforce change management
  • Reflective practice
  • Supervision and mentorship
  • Ethnic minority rights for children
  • Emotional labour and embodiment

Research Organisations and Individual Collaborators

Staff and Publications

The Department hosts a range of activity in relation to collaborative research, CPD projects, PhD studentships, a new Professional Doctorate which has been built on the well-established Doctorate by Research programmes.

Staff are professional experts in research, teaching and learning in close collaboration with organisations, teams and individuals seeking to develop good practice in the workplace.

The Department has established contacts with private and voluntary sector organisations in health, social care, early years and statutory social work across the South East of England.

Find out more about our academic staff and their research related interests and publications on their profiles:

Dr Eva Mikuska

Senior Lecturer

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Dr Sandra Lyndon

Reader in Childhood and Social Policy

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Professional Learning

We offer a range of short courses that will help with your professional development.

Doctoral and Postdoctoral Research

Staff in the Centre supervise 15 students who are undertaking research doctorates in a wide range of disciplines and interests, many of which are linked to workforce development, including the following:

  • Social work responses to child abuse (Sam Baeza)
  • Leadership in adult social care (Paul Temple)
  • Perceptions of child poverty (Sandra Lyndon)
  • Food Banks (Suzanna McGregor)
  • Patient Participation in the NHS (Thomas Thompson)
  • Resilience in team working (Chris Smethurst)
  • Practice supervision in palliative care (Marie Price)
  • Early years practitioner identities (Eva Mikuska and Nikki Fairchild)
  • Social Work Practice under Austerity (David Gaylard)
  • Leadership in Education (Andre Kurowski)
  • Social Work Practice and Dissonnace (Jon Old)
  • ECEC - emotional labour and professionalisation of the workforce (Eva Mikuska)
  • Embodied emotionality, emotional labour in care work (Eva Mikuska)

Research is carried out using qualitative and quantitative methodologies rooted in theoretical approaches such as grounded theory, ethnography, post-humanism, feminist poststructuralist, narrative inquiry and critical race theory. Our most developed research expertise is in the field of workforce development. In the early years Dr Nikki Fairchild leads this.

Professor Janet McCray leads on, resilience, public sector workforce  transformation and leadership. Kish Bhatti-Sinclair has focussed on developing the profiles of child sexual exploitation offenders and Chris Smethurst has published a book on Diversity, Difference and Dilemmas.

A vibrant research culture promotes researcher training and development events at pre and post-doctoral levels. The programme is led by Professor Janet McCray, and events take place throughout the academic year.

Project Examples

Professional Doctorate

The Professional Doctorate (Advanced Practice) builds on a long and established tradition of delivering professional programmes at the University of Chichester. We have drawn upon our experience to design a framework, which will enable you to achieve a PhD level qualification using the following key principles:

  • that experienced practitioners and managers have access to high quality programme content which is academically and professionally coherent;
  • that the programme offers flexibility and choice to enable professionals to tailor their studies to meet their specific interests and development needs;
  • that study routes are linked closely to practice;
  • that practitioners are able to effect real change in personal and organisational practice.

The Programme has a range of modules on offer, some of which are designed for specific groups of students who might, for example, work in a similar setting or are following a named route for an organisation. In accordance with the University's Learning and Teaching Strategy the course encourages students to critically reflect on complex trends and developments in professional practice.

The University Research Strategy 2015/16 to 2020/2021 follows the key research principles that align with the University’s 2020 Vision.

The Research Strategy adopts the following definition of research: “a process of investigation leading to new insights, effectively shared” and values the diversity of approaches and practices represented in the University’s research portfolio. The University's Research Strategy recognises that success depends on the empowerment, support and contribution of staff and students within a supportive community.

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