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Research in Social Work and Social Policy is undertaken by staff from the Faculty of Health and Social Care, the Department of Social and Political Science and the Law School at the University of Chester.  The development of research initiatives, collaborations, impact and dissemination strategies has included work relating to specific Centres and Forums including, for example, the Centre for Adoption Support (CAS), Centre for Ageing and Mental Health (CAMH), Centre for Research and Education in Psychological Trauma (CREPT) and the Forum for Research into Equality and Diversity (FRED).

The University’s targeted research funding has been bolstered by external funders including: The Alex Timpson Trust, the Martin James Foundation, Feeding Britain and Cheshire and Merseyside Social Work Teaching Partnership. 

20 staff were identified as having significant responsibility for research in REF2021, leading to a requirement for 48 outputs to be submitted.

Research outputs submitted to REF2021 are included in the Health and Social Care Collection, the Social and Political Science Collection and the Law Collection of ChesterRep, the University of Chester’s online research repository. 

The impact of research in this unit was exemplified through the following case studies:

Addressing Inequality in Employment and Education Through Positive Action: Changing Policy and Practice: Research undertaken within this unit has impacted on the development of policy and practice concerning the much-misunderstood area of positive action. The work undertaken represents the first socio-legal exploration of positive action in the UK, significantly impacting on its use and development in the UK and beyond. In particular, this has been key to developing the work of a higher education professional membership scheme in the area of positive action in higher education. Similarly, this research has instigated, and formed the basis of, a review of statutory positive action guidance by the UK’s national equality body and, via parliamentary exploration, the use of positive action to mitigate female inequality in the workplace. This research has also been used to develop policy and practice concerning positive action at an organisational and sector level. Similarly, it has resulted in the robust application of ground-breaking positive action in Ireland involving the introduction of 20 female-only professorships.

Creating change by raising the awareness and understanding of the emotional needs of children in school as explained by attachment theory: Research undertaken within this unit gave rise to the insight that school staff members were unaware of the principle that children’s early relationships (attachments) impacted upon their ability to learn, or make the most of their educational opportunities. This insight was taken up by a charity whose main aim is to help schools better respond to the emotional needs of looked after children.  The charity invested in: raising awareness amongst school personnel; changing practices in schools; and campaigning to change teacher training. Across England and Scotland, this funding created: an academic consultancy post; training materials and accessible books; informative events and artefacts; support for associated charities and third sector organisations; and an action research project. Government departments have been impacted, as have professionals, children and families, as schools have introduced change as a result of becoming ‘attachment aware’.

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