The nature of knowledge and evidence in child protection social work
: Findings from the literature and practice

  • Lynn Kelly

    Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Education


    The central themes of this thesis are professional learning and knowledge transfer. These themes have been critically examined in the context of how social work child protection professionals learn. Traditional ways of knowing and learning are no longer adequate. Professionals are facing increasingly complex practice issues that take place within an ever-changing social and political landscape. The role of the professional social worker is under constant scrutiny, nowhere more so than in the field of child protection, where the media plays a pivotal role in setting the political agenda (McCulloch and Kelly, 2007).

    The nature of professional learning and in particular, child protection social work learning, has been captured at various junctures in this thesis as it grapples with the key tensions, debates and conflicts. The thesis has positioned these challenges within the context of the literature and provides an alternative theoretical lens from which to consider alternative approaches.

    The future of child protection social work and the protection of vulnerable children and families rely on the skills, experience and knowledge of those charged with working with them. In this thesis I posit that current methods of education and continuing professional development are failing. New methods and models of sharing knowledge between all who have a stake in child protection, need to be reconsidered. For this to occur, we need to reconceptualise the theory that underpins our current approach and recognise the barriers that prevent the effective transfer of knowledge across the domains of research, practice and service user knowledge and experience. This thesis concludes that this can only be achieved through the active and informed participation of all stakeholders.
    Date of Award2015
    Original languageEnglish
    SupervisorDivya Jindal-Snape (Supervisor) & Sharon Jackson (Supervisor)


    • Child protection
    • Knowledge exchange
    • Evidence based practice

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