Personal profile

Areas of Expertise

Long-term foster care and attachment.


Teaching Interests

Qualifying and CPD programmes - Child development and child placement.

Research Supervision

Professor Schofield has supervised a series of successful PhD students with topics including: parenting disabled adults; life pathways of sex workers; siblings separated through adoption; digital life-story work; refugee and asylum seeking mothers; restorative justice and young female offenders.

If you are interested in PhD supervision on topics relating to fostering, children in care and family relationships please contact Professor Schofield on [email protected]



Gillian Schofield OBE is Emeritus Professor of Child and Family Social Work. She was an experienced Social Worker and Guardian ad Litem before joining UEA in 1990.  Her research has been in long-term foster care; attachment; looked after children and offending; care planning and the role of the Independent Reviewing Officer; LGBTQ young people in care; transitions from foster care to adoption.  With Dr Mary Beek, she developed the Secure Base model, an attachment and resilience-based framework relevant to foster care, adoption, residential care, schools, professional teams and a range of other settings. The Secure Base  model has been implemented widely in the UK and internationally. In 2020 she was appointed Emeritus Professor at UEA and awarded an OBE for services to children and families.   

Key Research Interests

Gillian Schofield has had a continuous series of funded research projects since 1997, all of which have contributed to policy and practice affecting children in care and their birth, foster and adoptive families. Key themes have been around planning systems and the nature of foster and adoptive family relationships, in particular the use of attachment theory to promote security and resilience. Research topics have included looked after children and offending and care planning the role of the IRO – both of which include issues concerning risk and protective factors for children’s development and the role of professional systems and practice. Her recent research with children in care includes projects concerning LGBT young people in care, supporting long-term foster care and transitions from foster care to adoption.

Current and Recently Completed Research Projects:

An investigation of the implementation in England of the first regulatory framework for long-term foster care as a permanence option (2018-21)

Transitions from foster care to adoption (2016-18)

Supporting long-term foster care- Match Inovations project funded by DfE (2015-16)

Investigation of the experiences & identity development of LGBT young people in care & the support they receive (2014-2016)

Evaluation of the Norfolk Edge of Care Team (2014-2015)

Mentalisation and social work education, with the Anne Freud Centre (2013-2015)

Evaluation of the transitions and mentoring service at Break (2013-15)

Investigation of care planning and the role of the IRO (2012-14)

Looked after children and offending (2010-12)

Evaluation of Fosternets (2009-10)

Care Planning for permanence in foster care (2008-10)

Understanding and working with birth parents in long-term foster care (2007-08)

Permanence in foster care (2006-07)

Promoting Security: Attachment for foster care and adoption (2004-06)

Looked after children partnership project (2000-03)

Foster carers' perspectives on permanence (2001)

Growing up in foster care (Three phases 1997-1999, 2001-03, 2005-07)

Part of the Family: experiences of growing up in foster care (1999-2002)


Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 16 - Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions

Collaborations and top research areas from the last five years

Recent external collaboration on country/territory level. Dive into details by clicking on the dots or