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Trevor Spratt

Photo of Trevor Spratt
Trevor Spratt

BSc (Hons) in Sociology and Social Anthropology (1980)  The New University of Ulster
MSc in Applied Social Studies (1987)  Oxford University
Certificate of Qualification in Social Work (1987) Central Council for Training and Education in Social Work
PhD 'Organisational and Professional Responses to Child Care Policy Developments', (2004) Queen's University, Belfast
Senior Lecturer
Room 2.18, 6 College Park
Ext: 5989; Email:

Brief synopsis of social work practice and academic career since graduating in 1987:

Jan 1988 - Oct 1991: Child and Family Social Worker, South and East Belfast Health and Community Services Trust.

Oct 1991 - July 1995: Child and Family Senior Social Worker, Down Lisburn Health and Social Services Trust.

July 1995 - Jan 1997: Assistant Principal Social Worker (seconded), Eastern Health and Social Services Board.

Feb 1997 - Aug 2000: Lecturer in Social Work, The University of Ulster, Jordanstown.

Sept 2000 - Sept 2003: Lecturer in Social Work,  Queen's University Belfast .

Oct 2003 - present: Senior Lecturer in Social Work, Queen's University Belfast .

Research Interests

Having worked for some ten years in practice with children and families my research interests are in this area. They include five main strands. First, I am interested in how organisations translate policy objectives into practice; how social workers make sense of such changes in direction in their work with families, and how families themselves experience the product of such changes. My research in this area has involved an examination of these processes using both quantitative and qualitative methodologies.  Second, I have also sought to develop and test theoretical propositions in an attempt to help address some of the relational and ethical dilemmas faced by social workers in their everyday practice. In undertaking this work with colleagues from both within and outside the School of Sociology, Social Policy and Social Work, we have combined insights from Critical Theory and Radical Drama methodology to produce a framework within which social workers may locate the contradictions within their work and develop potential solutions to these. Third, I am part of a research group within the School studying the impact of Multiple Adverse Childhood Experiences (MACE) into adulthood. This work has involved international research as has my fourth area of research interest, international comparisons of child protection systems. I have recently been commissioned to undertake a study to inform the Swiss government in relation to the establishment of a national child protection system in Switzerland. My fifth area of research interest is the combining of data sets to identify populations with characteristics associated with poor child and adult health and social outcomes to inform the work of service providers and policy makers.  In addition to these areas of interest I have undertaken a number of evaluative research projects within both the voluntary and statutory sectors providing health and social care in Northern Ireland, chaired an internal Trust review following the death of a child and chaired and authored a Case Management Review Report following the death of a child in care.

Teaching Responsibilities

I am responsible for co-ordinating the module SWK3003 – Social Work with Children and Families. I also lecture on post qualifying child care courses and tutor across a number of BSW modules, including ‘Criminal Justice and Court Work Skills', 'Preparation for Practice' and 'Introduction to Social Work'. 

Postgraduate Students
I am currently first supervisor for three PhD students (one on the D-Child programme) and second supervisor for a further three PhD students. All are undertaking research in areas associated with my research interests.

Recent Publications

Refereed Journals

Hayes, D. and Spratt, T. (2012) ‘Child Welfare as Child Protection then and now: What Social Workers did and continue to do’, British Journal of Social Work, 1-20, available on advance access.

McGavock, L. and Spratt, T. (2012) ‘Prevalence of Adverse Childhood Experiences in a University Population: Associations with Use of Social Services’, British Journal of Social Work, pp. 1-18, available on advance access.

Spratt, T. (2011) ‘Why Multiples Matter: Reconceptualising the Population Referred to Child and Family Social Workers’, British Journal of Social Work, 1- 18, available on advance access.

Spratt, T. (2011) ‘Families with multiple problems: Some challenges in identifying and providing services to those experiencing adversities across the life course’, Journal of Social Work, (11)4 343-357.

Houston, S., Spratt, T. and Devaney, J. (2011) ‘Mandated prevention in child welfare: Considerations from a framework shaping ethical inquiry’, Journal of Social Work, 11(3) 287-305.

Davidson, G., Devaney, J. and Spratt, T. (2010) ‘The impact of adversity in childhood on outcomes in adulthood: research lessons and limitations’, Journal of Social Work 10(4) 369-390.

Spratt, T. and Devaney, J. (2009) ‘Identifying families with multiple problems: Perspectives of practitioners and managers in three nations’, British Journal of Social Work 39(3) 418-434.

Spratt, T. (2009) ‘Identifying families with multiple problems: Possible responses from child and family social work to current policy developments’, British Journal of Social Work, 39(3) 435-450.

Hayes, D. and Spratt, T. (2009) ‘Child welfare interventions: Patterns of social work practice’, British Journal of Social Work, 39(8) 1575-1597.

Devaney, J. and Spratt, T. (2009) ‘Child abuse as a complex and wicked problem: Reflecting on policy developments in the United Kingdom in working with children and families with multiple problems’, Children & Youth Services Review 31(6) 635-641.

Spratt, T. (2008) 'Possible Futures for Social Work with Children and Families in Australia, the United Kingdom and the United States' 14(4), Child Care in Practice, ISSN 1357-5279.

Spratt, T. and Callan, J. (2004) Parents' views on Social Work Interventions in Child Welfare Cases, British Journal of Social Work, 34, 199-244. ISSN 0045-3102

Spratt, T. (2003) Child Protection Work and Family Support Practice in Five Family Centres, Child Care in Practice, 9(1) 19-30. ISSN 1357-5279

Houston, S., Magill, T., MaCollum, M. and Spratt, T. (2001) Developing Creative Solutions to the Problems of Children and their Families: Communicative Reason and the use of Forum Theatre, Child and Family Social Work, 6(4) 285-294. ISSN 1356-7500

Spratt, T. (2001) ‘The Influence of Child Protection Practice Orientation on Child Welfare Practice’, British Journal of Social Work31, 933-954.

Spratt, T. (2000) ‘Decision Making by Senior Social Workers at Point of First Referral’, British Journal of Social Work30, 597-618.

Spratt, T., Houston, S. and Magill, T. (2000) ‘Imaging the Future: Theatre and change within the Child Protection System’, Child and Family Social Work, 5(2) 117-127.

Houston, S., McCullough, W., Spratt, T. and Hasson, F. (2000) ‘Integrated Family Centres: Directions for Future Developments’, Irish Journal of Applied Social Studies, 2(3) 56-72.

Spratt, T. and Houston, S. (1999) ‘Developing Critical Social Work in Theory and in Practice’, Child and Family Social Work4(4) 315-324.

Chapters in Books

Spratt, T. (2008) ‘The Changing Landscape of Social Care: Implications for Working with Involuntary Clients’, in M. Calder (ed.) The carrot or the stick? Towards effective practice with involuntary clients in safeguarding children work, Russell House Publishing, Lyme Regis.

Spratt, T. (2004) Radical Drama with Children Using Critical Social Work Methods, in S.Hick., J. Fook and R. Pozzuto (eds.) Social Work: A Critical Turn, Thompson Educational Publishing, Toronto.

Spratt, T. and Higgins, K. (2001) Child Care Legislation and Social Work Practice in Northern Ireland' in D.Iwaniec and J.Szmagalski (eds.) Emotional Maltreatment and Failure to Thrive: Identification, Assessment and Treatment - United Kingdom and Polish Experiences, University of Warsaw Press, Warsaw