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Children and families

Positioned at the cutting-edge of contemporary research on childhood, our research explores the interface between key areas of health, social care and education policy and practice and the lived experiences of children, young people and families. Specialist areas include: ‘different’ childhoods; youth and sport; young people’s health and wellbeing; gender identities; sexuality; migration; parenting; youth justice and contemporary youth cultures and transitions. Our researchers specialise in participatory methods and developing co-produced research agendas with children and young people.



Child's drawing of a character outlined in pink


The Early Childhood Research group at The Open University engages in critical, practical and theoretical research and teaching to extend knowledge and understanding about early childhood education and care for children birth to seven years. Our research creates a space for critical reflection about values, beliefs and practical realities in early childhood including social justice, advocacy, the nature of high-quality experiences and children’s rights. It aims to challenge practice and policy through listening to different perspectives using a range of methods. We seek to make meaningful connections, both across the four nations of the UK and internationally, between communities of practice and knowledge exchange to support high quality experiences and services.

The Children, Young People, Parenthood and Families Research Group

The Children, Young People, Parenthood and Families research group has a focus on social research into the lives of children and young people and their families, linking to to key areas of policy and professional practice across the health and social care sector.

A feet-up shot of two teenagers. One wears jeans ripped at the knees, one carries a skateboard

The Contemporary Youth Cultures and Transitions Research Group

The Contemporary Youth Cultures and Transitions Research Group (CYCaT) at The Open University brings together academic researchers – working across and between the boundaries of criminology, human geography, psychology, sociology, and education studies – alongside practitioners and youth activists.

The RUMPUS Research Group

The RUMPUS Research Group's key area of research is about how fun relates to learning and education.


Reading for Pleasure

The Teachers as Readers study (The Open University and UK Literacy Association) and other OU studies have established effective ways to support children's Reading for Pleasure (RfP). Based on the research, this consortium aims to support a vibrant professional community of teachers, student teachers, librarians and English leaders in order to nurture lifelong readers.