School of Sociology and Social Policy

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Siobhan Laird

Associate Professor in Social Work, Faculty of Social Sciences



Dr. Siobhan E. Laird originally studied English and Philosophy receiving a BA degree in 1984 from Queen's University of Belfast. In 1990 she qualified with a B.Sc. Degree in Estate Management and worked as a property surveyor in the public and private sectors in both Belfast and London for a number of years. Making a career change she became a welfare rights adviser and later a residential care worker for young people. She obtained her Post-Graduate Diploma in Social Work in 1994. Training in mental health and child protection she worked for several years in community care assisting people with physical disabilities and mental health needs. Dr. Laird also holds a M.Sc. Degree in Counselling and has worked as a counsellor in the voluntary sector.

In 1997 Dr. Laird took up an academic appointment in West Africa at the University of Ghana, where she became Head of Social Work. On her return to the United Kingdom in 2000 Dr. Laird completed a Ph.D. at the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London. She lectured at the University of Sheffield before taking up an academic appointment in social work at the University of Nottingham in 2008. She has published widely on child protection in an international context and has written a book on cultural competence in social work. More recently Dr. Laird has produced a book investigating the management of conflict and resistance in child protection practice.

PhD Supervision

Dr. Laird currently supervises a number of home and overseas doctoral students. She is interested in potential PhD applicants with an interest in researching cross-cultural or cross-national issues in welfare policy or health and social care practice, including social work. She is keen to supervise doctoral students who wish to study aspects of the law in relation to cultural diversity, child protection or social care. Dr. Laird is also interested to support Doctoral students researching on conflict and aggression within families and between professionals and family members.

ORCID ID 0000-0002-1918-7585

Expertise Summary

During her work in Ghana Dr. Laird acted as consultant to the Danish Embassy on welfare provision for street children. She continues to research and publish on child welfare and protection in the sub-Saharan region. Dr. Laird was a member of the International Relations Advisory Panel of the British Association of Social Workers and the JUCSWEC International Sub-committee. She has also served as a non-executive director of the World Development Movement. Most recently Dr. Laird conducted a national survey of the views and experiences of children in care for the Office of the Children's Commissioner. She is presently undertaking a number of evaluations of child protection interventions by local authorities in England. Dr. Laird continues to be engaged in research concerning cross-cultural social work and managing conflict in child protection practice.

Research Summary

Dr. Laird's study of serious case reviews reveals the extent to which conflict between social workers and family members can detrimentally affect child protection practice. She continues to conduct… read more

Recent Publications

Current Research

Dr. Laird's study of serious case reviews reveals the extent to which conflict between social workers and family members can detrimentally affect child protection practice. She continues to conduct work to identify the salient features of conflict and resistance in the interactions between professionals and parents during child protection interventions and to design conflict management strategies. She also has a research focus on social work in cross-cultural contexts, particularly in relation to child protection. This has included finding out from black and minority ethnic communities how they might best be engaged in user-led projects or as research participants. In addition, Dr. Laird's research examines dominant social constructions of childhood through the ethnocentric assumptions embedded in the approaches of multilateral organizations to child welfare policy in developing countries. Her research interrogates the contradictions created for social work practice in African countries when national child protection laws and policies reflect Anglo-centric norms. Currently Dr. Laird is undertaking a series of evaluations of child protection practices introduced by a number of local authorities in England.

  • LAIRD, S.E., MORRIS, K., ARCHARD, P. and CLAWSON, R., 2017. Changing practice: the possibilities and limits for reshaping social work practice Qualitative Social Work.
  • LAIRD, S.E., MORRIS, K., ARCHARD, P. and CLAWSON, R., 2017. Working with the whole family: what case files tell us about social work practices Child & Family Social Work.
  • MORRIS, K., ARCHARD, P. J., LAIRD, S.E. and CLAWSON, R., 2017. Family experiences of children's social care involvement following a social work change programme Journal of Social Work Practice.
  • 2017. Brexit: Investigating the Implications for Curriculum Development and Teaching on Diversity In: Social Work Education in Europe: Challenging Boundaries, Promoting a Sustainable Furture, EASSW-UNAFORIS European Conference, Paris Descartes University, Paris, 26-29 June.
  • LAIRD, S.E., 2016. Protecting children from nutritional and medical neglect in sub-Saharan Africa: A five-country study International Journal of Social Welfare. 25(1), 47-57
  • LAIRD, S.E., 2016. Relationships of looked after children with professionals in a time of austerity In: Children and Young People in a Changing World: Action, Agency and Participation, Liverpool Hope University, Liverpool, 23-24th June.
  • LAIRD, S.E., 2016. Children’s and young people’s views on how to improve the State child care system in England In: Together Towards a Better World for Children, Adolescents and Families, 33rd FICE Congress & 2nd CYC World Conference, University of Applied Sciences FH Campus Vienna, Austria 22-25 August.
  • LAIRD, S.E., 2016. Representations of the family’s voice in serious case reviews of child maltreatment: applying discourse analysis to technologies of practice In: Ties that Bind for Social Work: Late Modernity, Social Capital and Community, 6th International Conference of Sociology and Social Work, Windesheim University of Applied Sciences, Zwolle, The Netherlands 25-26 August.
  • LAIRD, S.E., 2015. Improving child protection practice with highly resistant families In: 9th BASPCAN International Conference, University of Edinburgh, 12-15th April.
  • LAIRD, S.E., 2015. Involving the family in the serious case review process In: 8th National Conference on Serious Case Reviews, ICO Conference Center, London, 21st May.
  • LAIRD, S.E., 2015. Child neglect and the construction of childhood in sub-Saharan Africa In: New Directions in Critical Sociology and Social Work, 5th International Conference on Sociology and Social Work, University of Chester, Chester, 26-27th August.
  • LAIRD, S.E., 2015. Improving child protection practice with families affected domestic abuse In: European Conference on Domestic Violence, Queens University Belfast, 6-9 September.
  • LAIRD, S.E., 2014. The law, professional ethics and anti-oppressive social work. In: COCKER, C. and HAFFORD-LETCHFIELD, T., eds., Rethinking Anti-Discriminatory & Anti-Oppressive Theories for Social Work Practice PalgraveMacmillan. 45-59
  • LAIRD, S.E., 2014. Working with conflict, hostility and aggressive behaviour in child protection practice In: British Association for the Study and Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect Regional Seminar, University of Nottingham, Nottingham, 18th November.
  • RICHARDSON, E. and LAIRD, S.E., 2013. Involving carers from minority ethnic backgrounds in carer-led research Disability & Society. 28(1), 67-80
  • LAIRD, S.E., 2013. Child Protection: Managing Conflict, Hostility and Aggression The Policy Press.
  • LAIRD, S.E., 2013. New Approaches to Race, Ethnicity, Culture and Faith in Contemporary Anti-oppressive Practice In: Joint Social Work Education Conference and UK Social Work Research Conference Royal Holloway, University of London 10th-12th July.
  • LAIRD, S.E., 2012. The construction of the child in Ghanaian welfare policy. In: TWUM-DANSO, A. and AME, R., eds., Childhoods at the intersection of the local and the global Palgrave Macmillan. 94-118
  • LAIRD, S.E., 2011. Enforcing the law on child maintenance in sub-Saharan Africa: a case study of Ghana International Journal of Law, Policy and the Family. 25(2), 220-243
  • LAIRD, S.E., 2011. Social work with children and families in Ghana: negotiating tradition and modernity Child & Family Social Work. 16(4), 434-443
  • LAIRD, S.E., 2011. Complaints are a form of intimidation too Community Care. 6th October, 17
  • LAIRD, S.E. and RICHARDSON, E., 2011. User and carer perspectives on the research process In: European Conference for Social Work Education, St Catherine's College, Oxford University, Oxford, United Kingdom. 23-25 March.
  • LAIRD, S.E., 2010. Practical Social Work Law; Analysing Court Cases and Inquiries Pearson Education.
  • LAIRD, S.E., 2008. Anti-Oppressive Social Work: A Guide for Developing Cultural Competence Sage.
  • LAIRD, S.E., 2008. Social Work Practice to Support Survival Strategies in Africa British Journal of Social Work. 38(1), 135-151
  • LAIRD, S.E., 2008. The Place of Culture in Anti-Oppressive Practice with Refugees, Economic Migrants and Asylum Seekers In: JUSWEC Social Work Education Conference Homerton College, Cambridge University, Cambridge, United Kingdom. 9-11 July.
  • LAIRD, S.E., 2007. Rolling back the African State: implications for social development in Ghana Social Policy and Administration. 41(5), 465-486
  • LAIRD, S.E., 2007. The Application of African Practice Models to the Social Problems of Emergent Democracies. In: KLASSEN, M., BORMANN, S. and SPATSCHECK, C., eds., International Social Work: Social Problems, Cultural Issues and Social Work Education Barbara Budrich. 19-35
  • LAIRD, S.E., 2007. Voluntarism in Community Based Development: A Critique from Ghana In: Social Policy Association Conference, University of Birmingham, Birmingham, United Kingdom. 23-25 July.
  • LAIRD, S.E., 2006. Teaching Social Work as a Foreign Language Teaching in Higher Education. 11(3), 381-386
  • LAIRD, S.E., 2006. Should we listen to each other? The hazards of cross-national social work In: Social Work International Practice Education Conference Sheffield, United Kingdom. 19 September.
  • LAIRD, S.E., 2006. Developing the National Curriculum in Britain: An International Perspective from Ghana In: JUSWEC Social Work Education Conference Homerton College, Cambridge University, United Kingdom. 12-14 July.
  • LAIRD, S.E., 2005. International child welfare: deconstructing UNICEF’s Country Programmes Social Policy & Society. 4(4), 457-466
  • LAIRD, S.E., 2004. Inter-ethnic conflict: a role for social work in sub-Saharan Africa Social Work Education. 23(6), 693-709
  • LAIRD, S.E., 2004. Creating the Problem, Dictating the Practice: Globalisation for sub-Saharan Africa In: World Conference of International Federation of Social Workers, Adelaide, Australia. 2-5 October.
  • LAIRD, S.E., 2003. Evaluating social work outcomes in sub-Saharan Africa Qualitative Social Work. 2(3), 251-270
  • LAIRD, S.E., 2002. Imposing best practice Professional Social Work. June, 18-19
  • LAIRD, S.E., 2002. 'The 1998 Children's Act: problems of enforcement in Ghana British Journal of Social Work. 32(7), 893-905
  • LAIRD, S.E., 2001. 'AIDS and gender: the African reality Social Work/Maatskaplike Werk. 37(3), 260-267
  • LAIRD, S.E., 2000. Why does the University of Ghana produce good Americans instead of good Africans? In: Annual Inter-faculty Lecture at the University of Ghana, Ghana. June.
  • LAIRD, S.E., 1999. A farewell to casework Professional Social Work. July, 10-11
  • LAIRD, S.E., 1999. Social Work in sub-Saharan Africa: Its Failures and Possibilities In: 11th International Conference of the Inter-University Consortium for International Social Development, University of Cape Town, Cape Town, South Africa. 4-8 July.
  • LAIRD, S.E. and AGYEMAN-MENSAH, N., 1999. A Review of Street Children Initiatives: Consultancy Report for the Royal Danish Embassy, Ghana

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