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Social Work: People


Autumn Roesch-Marsh

Autumn Roesch-Marsh
Dr Autumn Roesch-Marsh
Senior Lecturer in Social Work and Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy
2.08 Chrystal Macmillan Building 15a George Square Edinburgh UK EH8 9LD
+44 (0)131 651 3870
Research Interests
Decision making, Risk, Looked After Children, gender, Social Work education, Social Work, children and families social work practice, Participation, social pedagogy, Empathy

Guidance and Feedback Hours

  • 9.00 a.m to 10 a.m. Wednesdays or by appointment

Current Research and Teaching Interests

I am a qualified social worker with a passion for social work education and working with children and their families.  I am a Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy and teach across postgraduate and undergraduate courses. I have a keen interest in practice and research informed teaching that is experiential and I am interested in developing scholarship in the area of learning and teaching. My teaching interests include child and family social work, community social work, and social work skills and values.  These values are reflected in the work I did with colleagues for the Review of Social Work Eduction, Inquiry Area 4:  Philosophies of Learning in Social Work Education.  My book A Guide to Therapeutic Childcare, co-authored with Dr Ruth Emond and Dr Laura Steckley, draws on my practice and teaching experiences and illustrates my practical and research informed approach to teaching and writing.

Much of my research to date has focused on developing understanding of the needs of Looked After and Accommodated children in Scotland and theoretical models for thinking about the dynamics and imperatives that drive social work decision making in the field of Children and Families. I have expertise in using mixed methods, action research and case studies to explore the multi-dimensional nature of many practice problems. 

I value knowledge exchange and have been invited to run workshops and seminars for Local Authorities (including City of Edinburgh, Glasgow and Fife) and for Voluntary Sector organisations (such as the Edinburgh Development Group) and Centres for social work and social policy research such as the Centre for Excellence for Looked After Children, the Centre for Youth and Criminal Justice, and With Scotland. 

I have an interest in Action Research approaches and I am keen to work in partnership with students, social work practitioners and service users to develop research.  Recent research includes the Camphill Communities Social Pedagogy Pilot Evaluation which was funded by the Scottish Government as part of the Keys to Life strategy.  You can see me talking about this project in a film made by Camphill Scotland.  An example of recent Action Research which was co-produced with practitioners includes the Engaging Children and Young People in Group Decision Making  project with partners in the City of Edinburgh Council. Findings from this study have recently been published in the journal Child & Family Social Work.  

I undertake research which seeks to understand the complexity of social work and social care practice and the lives and needs of those impacted by services. Knowledge exchange is central to ensuring that my research has relevance and impact. All of my work engages directly with service providers and I have collaborated with practitioners, policy makers and service users in designing research, collecting data and sharing findings.  I have also been PI on a yearlong RS MacDonald funded knowledge exchange project, bringing together international researchers with practitioners to explore issues of child care and safeguarding.  I have also been Co-I on the Revisiting Child Protection (ESRC Impact Project), devising and piloting workshops for practitioners.  

I am currently Principle Investigator on the Supporting migrant and BME children’s transitions to primary school project with partners Dr Fiona Morrison, Dr Christina McMellon and the MCFB.  This project seeks to develop our understanding of the needs of migrant and BME children and their families during the transtition from early years services to primary school.   Findings will be shared at the upcoming ESRC Festival of Social Science.  

Work to develop a new Empathy Network for students, practitioners and academics as part of the Global Compassion Initiative at the University of Edinburgh has been on hold over the last year but is due to be redeveloped in the coming year.  

I have recently taken on the role of Co-Editor for the journal Families, Relationships and Societies.  

PhD Supervision

I am currently supervising four PhD students.  Topics include: Kinship Care, Adoption, Residential care and Child Protection. 

Career History

I moved to Scotland from the USA after completing my undergraduate degree at Georgetown University in Washington, DC.  I worked for a number of years in the voluntary sector before undertaking a Master in Social Work at the University of Edinburgh.  After qualifying as a social worker I worked in various child and family focused settings including residential child care, the community and schools.  I have experience of teaching in both the further education and higher education sector and completed my PhD in Social Work at the University of Edinburgh in 2011.  

Recent Publications

Emond, R., Steckley, S. and Roesch-Marsh, A. (2017) Parellel Processes: Getting it Write? Journal of Social Work Practice

Kirkwood, S., Roesch-Marsh, A., and Cooper, S. (2016) Evaluating social pedagogy in the UK: Methodological issues. Qualitative Social Work. 10.1177/1473325017699266

Roesch-Marsh, A. (2016) Decision making and professional relationship; exploring the case of secure accommodation. Qualitative Social Work. DOI:  10.1177/1473325016680285

Roesch-Marsh, A., Gillies, A. and Green, D. (2016) Nurturing the vituous cirlce: Looked After Children's Participation in reviews, a cyclical and relational process.  Child and Family Social Work.  DOI: 10.1111/cfs.12310

Helm, D. and Roesch-Marsh, A. (2016) The Ecology of Judgement: A Model for Understanding and Improving Social Work Decision Making.  British Journal of Social Work.

Emond, R., Steckley, L. and Roesch-Marsh, A. (2016) A Guide to Therapeutic Childcare.  London: Jessica Kingsley. 

Roesch-Marsh, A., Cooper, S. and Kirkwood, S.  (2015)  Social Pedagogy Pilot Project Evaluation Report.  Edinburgh: University of Edinburgh.

Roesch-Marsh, A.  (2013) Risk assessment and secure accommodation decision making in Scotland:  Taking account of gender? Child Abuse Review

Roesch-Marsh, A. (2012)  Behaviour as communication: understanding the needs of neglected and abused adolescents.  Stirling: WithScotland.

Mitchell, F., Roesch-Marsh, A. and Robb, L. (2012) Taking stock of alternatives to secure accommodation or custody for girls and young women in Scotland. Edinburgh: CJSW.

Roesch-Marsh, A (2012) 'Out of Control':Making Sense of the Behaviour of Young People Referred to Secure Accommodation.  British Journal of Social Work, doi: 10.1093/bjsw/bcs102.

Roesch-Marsh, A. (2011) Better Together? Learning lessons for group decision-making practice from a study of secure accommodation in Scotland.  Child and Family Social Work.

Helm, D. and Roesch-Marsh, A. (2011) Ecology of Judgement in Child Welfare and Protection: A Seminar Report Stirling: Scottish Child Care and Protection Network.

Roesch-Marsh, A., Gadda, A. and Smith, D. (2011) ‘It’s a tricky business’: The impact of identity work in negotiating research access, Qualitative Social Work.

Roesch-Marsh, A. (2010) Risky Enough? Perspectives on Responding to ‘Risky’ Behaviour.  Paper Presented at Annual Scottish Institute for Residential Childcare Conference, Aviemore, UK, 9 June 2010.

Roesch-Marsh, A. (2010) Social Work Decision Making: A systems outcome? Paper presented at the Annual British Sociological Association Conference, Glasgow Caledonian University, UK, 7 April 2010.

Roesch-Marsh, A. (2007)  Risk Discourses and the Construction of Young People Who Are Considered for Secure Accommodation in Scotland.  Paper Presented at International Conference: Working with Young People At De Monfort University, Leicester, UK, 15 June 2007.

Roesch-Marsh, A and Morton, S (2007) Impact Study: ESRC Sponsored ‘Knowledge-exchange’ Seminar Series 2006.  University of Edinburgh Child and Youth Studies Network.

Roesch-Marsh, A. (2005)  Good enough care?  Looking after sexually abused young people in residential care.  Scottish Journal of Residential Child Care, Vol. 4, No. 1, February/ March pp. 45-58.

Topics interested in supervising

I am particularly interested in supervising PhD students researching topics related to looked after children, child and family social work, social work decision making and organisational culture in social service and social welfare organisations.

If you are interested in being supervised by Autumn Roesch-Marsh, please see the links below for more information:

PhD in Social Policy; PhD in Social Work; MSc (R) Social Policy; MSc (R) Social Work