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John Pinkerton

Photo of John Pinkerton

BSSc(Hons), MSSc, MSc, CQSW, PhD 
Professor in Social Work
Room 2.14, 6 College Park
Ext: 5988; Email:

Following undergraduate and post graduate study in sociology at Queens Prof Pinkerton entered social work as a Trainee with the Northern Health and Social Services Board, Northern Ireland . He obtained his professional qualification from the London School of Economics. Having worked as a field social worker in Newtownabbey, he started his academic career at the Ulster Polytechnic. He joined the social work staff at Queen's in 1985. He has been involved in social work training at qualifying, post qualifying and advanced level and in social work research, focused on child care, for the last twenty years. He is a member of the Association of University Teachers and committee member of the Belfast Association . 

He has been adviser to Parents Aid (N.I.), a mutual support group for parents of children in care Chair of the Northern Ireland Children's Rights Alliance, Council member of the London based Children's Rights Development Unit, and Chair of First Key (N.I.) which promotes the interests of children leaving care.  He was member of the Personal Social Services Advisory Committee, Department of Health & Social Services (N.I.), Chairing its Children's Sub Committee, was seconded to the Irish Government as advisor on the development of the National Children's Strategy; Our Children Their Lives . He is involved in the development of the Northern Ireland Strategy for Children and Young People and with the Irish Department of health and Children's Review of Family Support.


Prof Pinkerton is primarily involved in managing and contributing to teaching and training at post qualifying and advanced level. His teaching interests include child welfare, social work within the Irish context, international perspectives, critical social work theory and research methods. Across his career he has been involved in designing and contributing to a wide range of university based courses at all levels plus statutory and voluntary sector in service training programmes. He was Joint Chair of the planning group that developed the QUB/UU joint Masters in Advanced Social Work. He has tutored across the range of qualifying and post qualifying courses as well as supervising part time and full time research postgraduates at masters and doctoral levels. He is Vice Chair of the NI PQ Partnership and Chair of its Quality Assurance Board, an Assessor for the Irish National Social Work Qualifications Board, and External Examiner to the MSW, Trinity College Dublin.


Prof Pinkerton was Head of School from 2001 to August 2005. He previously spent five years as Senior Research Fellow and team leader in the School's Centre for Child Care Research.

Research interests

Prof Pinkerton's major areas of research interest are young people leaving car, family support, and the impact of research on policy and practice. In addition he has written on social work within the particular conditions of Northern Ireland within a UK and an all Ireland context, rights based social work practice and children in care placed at home. His major theoretical interest is in the policy and practice of child welfare as an interface for exploring the relationship between the state and civil society. He is interested in evaluation and qualitative methodologies.

Recent Journal Articles

Pinkerton, J. (2011) Constructing a global understanding of the social ecology of leaving out of home care, Children and Youth Services Review, 33(12), pp. 2412-2416

Munro, E.R., Pinkerton, J., Mendes, P., Hyde-Dryden, G., Herczog, M and Benbenishty, R (2011) The contribution of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child to understanding and promoting the interests of young people making the transition from care to adulthood, Children and Youth Services Review, 33(12), pp. 2417-2423

Pinkerton, J and Muhangi, D (2009) Linking social welfare development with cash transfers and education to promote child wellbeing - what we know and what we need to know, Vulnerable Children and Youth Studies, 4(1), pp. 55-67

Collins, M. E and Pinkerton, J. (2008) The policy context of leaving care services: a case study of Northern Ireland, Children and Youth Services Review 30(10), pp 1279-88

Pinkerton, J. and  Dolan, P (2007) Family support, social capital, resilience and adolescent coping Child & Family Social Work, Vol 12,(3), pp. 219-228

Pinkerton, J. (2006) Leaving care: Thinking systemically, thinking globally Children Australia 31 (3) pp 4- 10

Pinkerton, J. (2006) Developing a global approach to the theory and practice of young people leaving state care Child and Family Social Work 11, pp191- 198

Pinkerton, J. (2003) From Parity to Subsidiarity? Children's Policy in Northern Ireland Under New Labour: The Case of Child Welfare Children and Society Vol 17 pp254-260

Pinkerton, J., Dolan P and Percy, A. (2003) Family Support in Ireland: Developing Strategic Implementation Child Care in Practice Volume 9 No 4 pp 263-265

Pinkerton, J. and Campbell, J. (2002) Social Work and Social Justice in Northern Ireland: Towards a New Occupational Space British Journal of Social Work 32 723-737 (ISSN 0045-3102)

Pinkerton, J. (2001) Ireland 's National Children's Strategy - An Inside Outsider's View Children and Society Vol 15 pp118-121

Stein, M., Pinkerton, J. and Kellagher, P. (2000)  Leaving Care in England, Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, European Journal of Social Work.

Recent Books / Books Chapters

Katz, I. and Pinkerton, J. (eds) (2003) Evaluating Family Support: Thinking Internationally, Thinking Critically Chichester: John Wiley and Sons

Canavan, J., Dolan, P. and Pinkerton, J. (2003) Optimising the relationship between research, policy and practice: A systemic model in Munford R and Sanders J (eds) Making a difference in families - Research that creates change, Crows Nest Australia : Allen and Unwin

P inkerton, J. (2002) Developing an International Perspective on Leaving Care in Wheal A (ed) The RHP Companion to Leaving Care Dorset: Russell House Publishing

Pinkerton, J. (2002) Child Protection in Adams R, Dominelli L and Payne M (eds) Critical Practice in Social Work Hampshire: Palgrave

Pinkerton, J. (2001)  Developing Partnership Practice, in Foley and Roche (eds.) Children in Society: Contemporary Theory, Policy and Practice, Open University Books.

Canavan, J., Dolan, P. and Pinkerton, J. (eds)  (2000) Family Support - Direction from Diversity  London:  Jessica Kingsley. 

Pinkerton, J., Higgins, K. and Devine, P. (2000) Family Support - Linking Programme Evaluation and Policy Analysis Aldershot: Ashgate

Pinkerton, J. and McCrea, R. (1999) Meeting the Challenge?  Young People Leaving Care in Northern Ireland,  Aldershot: Ashgate