ESRC IAA - 2014 Follow on Fund - Using 360-degree immersive video case studies to improve child protection practices

Project Details


One of the most controversial and pressing social issues of our time is that abused children who were known by professionals to be at serious risk have died and young people have experienced protracted sexual exploitation despite the involvement of social workers and other agencies. The names of children such as 'Baby Peter' Connolly, Daniel Pelka, Hamza Khan and places like Birmingham and Rotherham have become synonymous with poor practice and scandal in child protection. These tragedies have occurred in cases known to social workers for long periods of years and little research has been carried out into why failures to protect children occur in everyday practices. Our research is exploring what occurs in face-to-face practice encounters between social workers and children and families over a period of 15 months and examines the influence of different organisational structures, office designs and staff supervision on the nature and quality of social work practice.

A range of methods is being used within an overall qualitative longitudinal research design involving participant observation of social workers' office routines, planning for home visits, journeys by foot/car to see families, their interactions with parents and children in their homes and elsewhere, and social workers' subsequent experiences of being supervised by managers. Observations, 360-degree video and audio-recordings of social worker/service user encounters (where informed consent has been given) and interviews with social workers and family members about their experiences provide the basis for investigation of practitioners' thinking and lived experiences, critical analysis of practice and organisational supports.

Journal articles and conference presentations will critically explore child protection through theories of practice moving beyond a simplistic focus on attitudes and 'thinking' - to focus on lived experiences, the senses and emotions and how practitioner thinking is shaped by their bodies and minds and the organisational structures within which they operate.

Planned outputs include practice frameworks, peer reviewed journal articles, developing theories and practical knowledge for local and national policy makers around staff supervision, office design and how effective work with parents and children can be developed.

Ten co-produced 360-degree immersive videos will be created. The potential of using 360-degree videos to disseminate findings for good practice has only become apparent to us since the project began (September, 2016).

Layman's description

Child protection is one of the most important and controversial areas of public policy due to highly publicised 'failures' by social workers to keep children safe. Little knowledge is available about good practice and there is an absence of innovative and accessible learning materials. This project aims to change this by working collaboratively with social work practitioners, managers and service users and carers to produce and evaluate ten immersive 360-degree video case studies. The project principle is to provide viewers with the 'best seat in the house' to critically learn from life-like situations exploring how social work practice, supervision and organisational factors can impact on effective child protection practices.
Short titleESRC IAA - 2014 Follow on Fund - Using 360-degree immersive video case studies to improve child protection practices
Effective start/end date1/07/1728/02/19


  • Economic & Social Research Council


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