Aoife O'Higgins

Aoife is a research assistant and DPhil student at the Rees Centre, co-supervised by DSPI's Frances Gardner. Her research examines the risk and protective factors for educational outcomes of children in care, with a particular focus on how carers help young people.

Aoife holds a MSc in Evidence Based Social Interventions from the Department of Social Policy and Intervention, Oxford and a MA in Refugee Studies from the University of East London. Aoife worked in social care for seven years, including five as an advocate for refugee and migrant children.


What are the risk & protective factors for educational outcomes for children in care?

  • Study 1: What is the relationship between being in care and educational outcomes of children foster or kinship care? A systematic review. See full report.
  • Study 2: What are the factors associated with educational outcomes of children in foster or kinship care? A systematic review. (link to journal page?)
  • Study 3: What do carers do to support the educational success of children in care?

Informed by the findings from both reviews, study 3 examines the critical role played by carers in supporting the education of children in care. Specifically, the analysis uses a large Canadian dataset to explore whether the involvement of carers over time is associated with gains in attainment.

Supervisors: Professor Judy Sebba, Rees Centre & Professor Frances Gardner, Dept of Social Policy and Intervention

Other research:

  • Aoife was also part of the research team looking at the educational progress of looked after children-linking care and educational data, a project funded by the Nuffield Foundation. As part of this project, she analysed data on migrant children in care.
  • Aoife is completing a systematic review on placement type and educational, physical and mental health outcomes of forced migrant children in care. This I sa joint project with Dr Ellie Ott (link?) and Dr Michael Shea.
  • Aoife works with a team of researchers at The University of Ottawa. Research includes secondary data analysis on risk and protective factors for children in care and a systematic review on the involvement of carers for educational outcomes for children in care.


  • Policy Evaluation and is seminar convenor at the Blavatnik School of Government, Oxford.
  • Systematic Reviewing for the Social Sciences, Social Sciences Division, Oxford
  • Teaching Children in Care (PGCE module), Department of Education, Oxford
  • Doctoral development training, Social Sciences Division, Oxford.
  • Social work with refugees and asylum seekers, University of West London.

  • The destitution of young refugees in the UK

  • The Educational Progress of Looked After Children in England. Technical Report 2: Relating Care to Educational Attainment and Progress

  • What is the Impact of Placement Type on Educational and Health Outcomes of Unaccompanied Refugee Minors? A Systematic Review of the Evidence.

  • Analysis of care and education pathways of refugee and asylum-seeking children in care in England: Implications for social work

  • Is the Care System to Blame for the Poor Educational Outcomes of Children Looked After? Evidence from a Systematic Review and National Database Analysis

  • Neglect, educational success, and young people in out-of-home care: Cross-sectional and longitudinal analyses

  • What is the relationship of being in care on the educational outcomes of children? An international systematic review

  • Safeguarding Children from Abroad: Refugee, Asylum Seeking and Trafficked Children in the UK

  • The Educational Progress of Looked After Children in England: Linking Care and Educational Data

  • Vulnerability and agency: beyond an irreconcilable dichotomy for social service providers working with young refugees in the UK.

  • More
List of site pages