Personal profile


I joined the University in April 2014 as Director of the Centre for Applied Childhood, Youth and Family Research (formerly the Centre for Applied Childhood Studies). Prior to that, for the last 12 years I worked at the University of West England (UWE), Bristol, initially with the SOLAR Action Research Centre - a specialist participatory research and development centre – and latterly with the Centre for Understanding Social Practice. I have been involved in a whole range of different projects the majority of which have been evaluations of children and family programmes.

I completed my doctorate in 1999 which concerned how children use their local environment and implications for planning, conducted as part of the UNESCO supported Growing up in Cities project. In 1999 I joined the SOLAR Action Research Centre – a specialised participatory research and development centre pioneering new forms of learning and change in organisations and communities – and moved to the University of the West of England in 2001.

Research Expertise and Interests

  • Participation of children and young people in research and decision making - but also issues of agency and empowerment and developing discourses of children’s participation as active citizenship
  • Action inquiry approaches to service evaluation and improvement across the public sector
  • Developing effective multi agency working / integrated children, youth and family services
  • Understanding and supporting youth transitions (especially concerning marginalized young people/NEETs etc)
  • In-depth qualitative inquiry including the use of visual approaches to understand young people’s realities and experiences
  • Facilitating practice based learning and innovation in organisations
  • Using learning to support workforce and service development
  • Facilitation of Knowledge cafes and 'Open space' technology

Research Degree Supervision

Click Here to see all postgraduate research opportunities with Professor Barry Percy-Smith 


  • Children in Research
  • Young People in Research
  • Children in Decision Making
  • Young People in Decision Making
  • Agency
  • Empowerment
  • Children's Participation
  • Active Citizenship
  • Action Inquiry Approaches
  • Public Sector Improvement
  • Multi-Agency Working
  • Integrated Services
  • Children Youth and Family Services
  • Youth Transitions
  • Marginalized Young People
  • NEETs
  • Young People's Realities
  • Young People's Experiences
  • Practice Based Learning
  • Innovation in Organisations
  • Learning for Workforce Development
  • Learning for Service Development
  • Knowledge Cafes
  • 'Open Space' Technology

Fingerprint Fingerprint is based on mining the text of the person's scientific documents to create an index of weighted terms, which defines the key subjects of each individual researcher.

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Projects 2015 2018

Research Output 2014 2018

Involving young people in drug and alcohol research

Brady, L-M., Templeton, L., Toner, P., Watson, J., Evans, D., Percy-Smith, B. & Coppello, A. 2018 In : Drugs and Alcohol Today. 18, 1, p. 28-38 11 p.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Open Access
Pharmaceutical Preparations
Behavior Therapy
Social Behavior

Participation as learning for change in everyday spaces: Enhancing meaning and effectiveness using action research

Percy-Smith, B. 1 Apr 2018 Theorising Childhood: Citizenship, Rights and Participation. Baraldi, C. & Cockburn, T. (eds.). Palgrave Macmillan UK

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

Young people's participation: learning from action research in eight European cities

McMahon, G., Percy-Smith, B., Thomas, N., Becevic, Z., Liljeholm Hansson, S. & Forkby, T. 3 May 2018 132 p.

Research output: Book/ReportCommissioned report

Open Access

Disabled children’s childhood studies and leadership as experts by experience: the case for learning activism in health and social care

Curran, T., Sayers, R. & Percy-Smith, B. 5 Oct 2017 The Palgrave Handbook of Disabled Children's Childhood Studies. Runswick-Cole, K., Curran, T. & Liddiard, K. (eds.). Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan Ltd.

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

Key Learnings from the PEER Project: A Combined Research Paper

Bereményi, B. Á., Larkins, C., Percy-Smith, B. & Roth, M. 2017 42 p.(EMIRGRA Working Papers; vol. 136)

Research output: Working paper

Open Access

Activities 2015 2015

  • 1 Invited talk

Using an Asset-Based Approach to Explore the Benefits of Involvement in Community-Centered Initiatives

Joanna Brooks (Speaker), Alison Rodriguez (Speaker), Percy-Smith, B. (Speaker), King, N. (Speaker), A. Bravington (Speaker)
2 Sep 2015

Activity: Invited talk