Accessibility statement

Professor Ian Sinclair

BA (Oxford); PhD (London), OBE

  • Emeritus Professor


Areas of expertise

  • Foster care; treatment foster care
  • Residential care for children
  • Education of children in care

Academic biography

Ian Sinclair followed a first degree in philosophy and ancient history at the University of Oxford with work in secondary teaching, probation, social services, counselling and industrial and social research. He was Director of Research at the National Institute for Social Work from 1977 to 1989 and Professor of Social Work at the University of York from 1989 to 2006 and subsequently Professor Emeritus. 

Ian Sinclair’s work has spanned criminology, family studies, general social work and child welfare. Methodologically he has been concerned with evaluation and with the need to bring together qualitative and quantitative approaches. Against this background he has explored how probationers, prisoners, elderly people, children and young people react to services, whether these services change them in the short and long-term, and how any effects can be explained. Particular concerns have been the continuity of effects (for example, the degree to which changes in behaviour carry over when a child moves placements), the effects of individuals and their interactions (for example, the impact of individual foster carers or heads of children’s homes) and the effects of social work organisations on the work done in them. A more detailed account of his career is given in Qualitative Social Work March, 2012, 11 (2): 206-215





Sinclair, I., Luke, N., Fletcher, J., O'Higgins, A., Strand, S., Berridge, D., Sebba, J. and Thomas, S. (2020) 'The education of children in care and children in need: Who falls behind and when?', Child & Family Social Work, 24.01.2020.

Sinclair, I., Luke, N. and Berridge, D. (2019) 'Children in care or in need: educational progress at home and in care', Oxford Review of Education, 45, 4, pp.443-460.

Sinclair, I., Parry, E., Biehal, N., Fresen, J., Kay, C., Scott, S. and Green, J. (2017) 'Multi-dimensional treatment foster care and psychotic symptoms', Journal of American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, 56, 1, p.89. 

Sinclair, I., Parry, E., Biehal, N., Fresen, J., Kay, C., Scott, S., and Green, J. (2016) 'Multi-dimensional treatment foster care: differential effects by level of anti-social behaviour', European Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, 25, 8, pp.843-852.

Green, J., Biehal, N., Roberts, C., Dixon, J., Kay, C., Parry, E., Rothwell, J., Roby, A., Kapadia, D., Scott, S. and Sinclair, I. (2014) 'Multi-dimensional treatment foster care for adolescents in English care: randomised trial and observational cohort evaluation', British Journal of Psychiatry, 204, 3, pp.214–221.

Luke, N., Sinclair, I., Woolgar, M. and Sebba, J. (2014) What Works in Preventing and Treating Poor Mental Health in Looked After Children?, London: NSPCC.

Biehal, N., Ellison, S. and Sinclair, I. (2011) 'Intensive fostering: an independent evaluation of MTFC in an English setting', Children and Youth Services Review, 33, 10, pp.2043-2049.

Wade, J., Biehal, N., Farrelly, N. and Sinclair, I. (2011) Caring for Abused and Neglected Children: Making the right decisions for reunification or long-term care, London: Jessica Kingsley Publishers.

Biehal, N., Ellison, S., Baker, C. and Sinclair, I. (2010) Belonging and Permanence: Outcomes in long-term foster care and adoption, London: BAAF.

Sinclair, I. (2010) 'Looked after children: can existing services ever succeed? A different view', Adoption & Fostering, 34, 2, pp.8-13.

Sinclair, I. (2010) 'What makes for effective foster care: some issues', in Fernandez, E. and Barth, R. (eds) How does Foster Care Work? International Evidence on Outcomes, London: Jessica Kingsley.

Ian Sinclair

Contact details

Professor Ian Sinclair
Emeritus Professor
School for Business and Society