Aoife O’Higgins

Aoife is a DPhil student at the Rees Centre for Research in Fostering and Education, based in the Department of Education. Her doctoral research examines the risk and protective factors for educational outcomes of children in care.

Aiofe O'Higgins

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. Aoife is also an independent consultant and trainer for charities and universities interested in migration and social work.

Current Research

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

  • An international systematic review looks at the relationship between being in care and educational outcomes. See full report.
  • The second review examines existing research to identify factors associated with educational outcomes for children in care. See blog post.

Informed by the findings from both reviews, the second stage 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.

Further details on this research.

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

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.


  • Sebba, J., Berridge, D., Luke, N., Fletcher, J., Bell, K., Strand, S., Thomas, S., Sinclair, I. And O’Higgins A. The Educational Progress of Looked After Children in England: Linking Care and Educational Data. Oxford: Rees Centre & Bristol University
  • O’Higgins, A., Sebba, J. & Luke, N. (2015) What is the relationship between being in care and the educational outcomes of children? An international systematic review. Oxford: Rees Centre
  • O’Higgins, Aoife (2014) ““Book Review: Safeguarding Children from Abroad: Refugee, Asylum Seeking and Trafficked Children in the UK” “, International Journal of Migration, Health and Social Care
  • O’Higgins, Aoife and Evans, Rosalind (2013) “‘Change 4 Me? Young refugees’ and migrants’ research on social inclusion and educational achievement in London’ “, Mitsuko Matsumoto ed.,Education and Disadvantaged Children and Young People. Bloomsbury Academic
  • O’Higgins, Aoife (2012) “Vulnerability and Agency: An irreconcilable dichotomy for social workers working with young refugees in the UK”, New Directions for Child and Adolescent Development (Special Edition: Independent Child Migration—Insights into Agency, Vulnerability, and Structure) 136 70-93
  • O’Higgins, Aoife (2011) “The Destitution of Young Refugees in the UK”, Oxford Monitor (OxMo) 1: 2 8-11


  • Oct 2012: Promoting unprotected unaccompanied children’s access to their fundamental rights in the European Union (PUCAFREU, organized by the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS), France). Presentation title: Vulnerability and agency: Beyond an irreconcilable dichotomy for social service providers working with young refugees in the UK.
  • May 2011: Canadian Association of Refugee and Forced Migration Studies (CARFMS) Conference 2011: Human Rights Challenges. Presentation title: Reconceiving the Rights and Needs of Young Refugees.
  • May 2010: CARFMS Conference 2010: Challenges and Change in Forced Migration. Presentation title: Safeguarding and refugee children in the UK.
  • Apr 2010: BASPCAN Conference: Safeguarding and young refugees. Presentation title: Destitution and safeguarding young refugees.

Blog posts

Systematic review of factors associated with education of children in care
What’s in a Name
Education of children in care, Who is to Blame?