Sarah was appointed Head of the Graduate School in 2021. Prior to this role she was an Associate Dean for Research in the School of Social Science and Humanities for three years. She is an Associate Professor of social policy specialising in Childhood Studies and has twenty years of teaching experience in higher education. At the University of Suffolk, she has taught across a range of undergraduate and postgraduate degree courses where her teaching primarily focuses on social policy and research methods. Sarah’s publications feature her work on international adoption policy and longstanding critical interest in methodological and ethical debates on research with children. She is chair of the University PGR Ethics Committee and a founding member of the biennial Children and Childhood Conference programme. Sarah has a PhD from University College London, an MA in Social Policy and a 1st class Honours degree in Childhood Studies and Social Policy.
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Sarah supervises dissertations on the MA Childhood and has taught social policy and research related modules on postgraduate and undergraduate programmes including Childhood Studies, SENDS, Childhood and Family Studies.
Sarah’s current PhD students:
- Abbie Toner, thesis focus, Sibling Kinship Carers
- Sian Cook, thesis focus: The use of technology in bereavement
- Anna Max, thesis title: A critical comparative analysis of the accountability discourse in early years education in England and Finland
- Maureen Garrett, thesis title: A qualitative exploration of library services and lifelong learning
- Kate Sida-Nicholls, thesis title: An ethnography of newly qualified teachers
Sarah’s current research is in collaboration with Suffolk Libraries on a KEEP+ project exploring the library as a source of well-being.
Sarah’s recent research includes a UKRI funded project exploring bereavement support for children in Suffolk’s primary schools and an unfunded research project entitled ‘Playing amongst the dead’, exploring young children’s perceptions of their play area in a graveyard.
Richards, S. ‘Researching Children and Childhoods’ (forthcoming) London: Bloomsbury
Richards, S., & Coombs, S. ‘Critical Perspectives on Research with Children Reflexivity, Voice, Interdependent Agency and Ethics (co-edited) (forthcoming) Bristol University Press
Vine, T. & Richards, S. (co-edited) (forthcoming) Storytelling Palgrave
Vine, T., Clark, J., Richards, S. & Weir, D. (eds) (2018) Ethnographic Encounters London: Palgrave
Richards, S., Clark, J., and Boggis, A., (2015) ‘Ethical Research with Children: Untold Narratives and Taboos’ Palgrave
Clark, J., and Richards, S. (2011) (eds) An introduction to Children, Young People and Social Policy London: Sage
Richards, S. ‘Chóng ér fēi: Cultural Performances of Belonging’ in Vine, T., Clark, J., Richards, S. & Weir, D. (eds) (2018) Ethnographic Encounters London: Palgrave
Vine, T., Clark, J., Richards, S. & Weir, D (2018) ‘Introduction’ in Vine, T., Clark, J., Richards, S. & Weir, D. (eds) (2018) Ethnographic Encounters London: Palgrave
Vine, T., Clark, J., Richards, S. & Weir, D (2018) ‘Conclusion’ in Vine, T., Clark, J., Richards, S. & Weir, D. (eds) (2018) Ethnographic Encounters London: Palgrave
Richards, S. ‘Historical Policy and Provision’ in Boggis, A. (ed) Disabled Childhoods (2018) London: Palgrave Macmillan
Richards, S. and Clark, J. ‘Research with Disabled Children’ in Boggis, A. (ed) Disabled Childhoods (2018) London: Palgrave Macmillan
Clark, J. and Richards, S. (2017) The cherished conceits of research with children? Does seeking the voice of the agentic child in participatory methods deliver what it promises? Sociological Studies of Childhood and Youth, Vol. 22, Emerald Publishing (in association with the ASA)
Richards, S. (2013) ‘An introduction to Children and Social Policy’ in Taylor, J. Bond, E. and Woods, M. (Eds.) Early Childhood Studies an Holistic, Multidisciplinary Introduction (3rd edn) London: Hodder Arnold
Richards, S. (2020) ‘Everybody’s child: An exploration of images of children that shocked the world’ Genealogy https://www.mdpi.com/2313-5778/4/3/73/htm
Richards, S. and Clark J. (2018) ‘[Dis]ordered spaces? Managing the competing rights of children in the gendered space of the school toilet’ Journal of Reproductive Systems and Sexual Disorders 1 (5) OAJRSD.MS.ID.000122
Richards, S, (2018) ‘‘I’m more than just adopted’: Narratives of belonging in intercountry adoption’ in "Adoption Experiences and the Tracing and Narration of Family Genealogies" special edition edited by Derek Kirton Genealogy
Richards, S. (2018) book review of Wall, J. (2017) ‘Children’s rights, today’s global challenge’ in Global Studies in Childhood
Richards, S. (2015) ‘HCIA Implementation and the Best Interests of the Child’ Report for Thematic Area 1 of the International Forum on Intercountry Adoption and Global Surrogacy’ AFIN, No 78 Spanish Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness
Richards, S. ‘The Market in Babies Stories of Australian Adoption’ A Review in Australian Historical Studies (2015) http://www.tandfonline.com/rahs
Richards (2014) ‘HCIA Implementation and the Best Interests of the Child’ Report for Thematic Area 1 of the International Forum on Intercountry Adoption and Global Surrogacy (11-13 August 2014) available at; http://repub.eur.nl/col/9760#query=from:NaN;query=sort:auto;filter=series:9760;filter=all:;facet=type:;facet=public:;facet=open_access:;facet=issued_date:;facet=affiliation_label_partOf:;facet=host_series_label:
Richards, S. (2012) ‘What the map cuts up the story cuts across’: narratives of belonging in intercountry adoption’ in ‘Multiculturalism, identity and family placement by Phoenix, A., and Simmonds, J., (eds) in Adoption & Fostering vol 36 (2012) pp 104-112
Mythical creatures and playing amongst the dead Research and Public Engagement conference 13th March 2020 University of Suffolk (with Dr Sarah Coombs)
Mythical creatures and playing amongst the dead The 14th International Conference on the Social Context of Death, Dying and Disposal - Centre for the Study of Death and Society: University of Bath - September 4th -7th 2019 (with Dr Sarah Coombs)
‘I’m more than just adopted’: Narratives of belonging in intercountry adoption’ Paper accepted at ICAR 6 The 6th edition of the International Conference on Adoption Research on July 8-12, 2018, in Montreal, Quebec, Canada
‘Developing inclusive practices for Postgraduate programme development’ co-authored abstract for Creating Inclusive postgraduate cultures and communities 2018 UKCGE Annual Conference
Invited to present at Disability Studies and Intersectionality: Blurring the Boundaries Disabled Children’s Research Forum University of Suffolk 30 June 2017 (with Jessica Clark)
Talking about the ‘hard stuff’: Australian and British transracial adoptive families negotiating racial difference and issues about belonging co-authored presentation accepted for 5th International Conference on Adoption Research Auckland University January 2016
Stories of Death and Adoption Paper Accepted: The Storytelling Project. 7th Global Meeting. Dubrovnik Croatia. February 2015
Presentation by invitation to Institute of Education, University College London (April 2014) ‘Stories of paper and blood: Narratives of belonging in families with daughters adopted from China’ Presentation by invitation to Institute of Education, University College London (April 2014)
Sarah is currently a consultant for childhood studies routes at the Open University. She is also working in partnership with Suffolk Libraries to develop a research project to capture the role of libraries in supporting wellbeing. Sarah is also collaborating with Suffolk CRUSE and Suffolk and Norfolk SCITT on a research project exploring bereavement support in schools.
Sarah initiated and co-founded the biennial children and childhood conference programme in 2013, 2015, 2017, 2019 and 2021(online). The international nature of this conference ensures that over twenty countries are regularly represented on the delegates list.
Sarah is a member of the Social Policy Association and a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy.