Talking and listening to children: Exploring how social workers and children communicate

tlcThis is a four nation UK research project funded by the ESRC that explores how social workers communicate with children in their everyday practice and how social workers and children involved in these encounters experience and understand them.  The research is a collaboration between Cardiff University, the University of Sussex, Queen’s Belfast University and the University of Edinburgh.

The research aims to generate new knowledge that will enhance the quality of social work education, practice and policy and in doing so improve children’s experiences of policy and practice outcomes. Specifically the research will:

  • Identify how social workers communicate with children in practice, from early encounters
    to established relationships, encompassing the high priority areas of child protection
    and ‘looked after’ children
  • Enable practitioners and children to reflect on specific practice encounters,
    helping to identify the barriers to and enablers of effective communication
  • Identify how practice in this domain could be improved and develop paper-based
    and video/digital resources to enable these improvements to be realised.

The Scottish research is based at Social Work in the School of Social
and Political Science at The University of Edinburgh.


Professor Viv Cree is a Co-Investigator for the research and the lead for the Scottish research .

Fiona Morrison is the lead researcher for fieldwork in Scotland.

Funding details:

The research is funded by the ESRC and the grant is held by Cardiff University.

Research team:

Dr Sally Holland (PI), Cardiff University; Prof Viv Cree (CI), The University of Edinburgh; Dr Gillian Ruch (CI), University of Sussex;  Prof Mark Hadfield (CI), Cardiff University, Dr Karen Winter (CI), Queen’s University of Belfast;  Sophie Hallett, Cardiff University and Fiona Morrison, CRFR, The University of Edinburgh.


2013-2015 (two years)


children, young people, families, child protection social work and communication


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