Staff Profiles

Gary Clapton

Gary Clapton
Dr Gary Clapton
Senior Lecturer
Social WorkSchool of Social and Political ScienceUniversity of Edinburgh
2.28 Chrystal Macmillan Building 15a George Square Edinburgh UK EH8 9LD
+44 (0)131 650 3903

Current research, teaching and practice interests

My interests and specialities are Children and Family work, Adoption and Fostering, Fathers and Fatherhood and how students best learn. My doctoral research was published as 'Birth fathers and their adoption experiences' (2003).

I am a Committee member of the Fathers Network Scotland and contribute to their blog, I am advisor to Birthlink and edit their bi-annual Bulletin.

Example of recent activity

In January 2014 the Scottish Parliament's Equal Opportunities Committee launched an enquiry into the current provision of services and support groups for fathers; societal attitudes towards lone/unmarried fathers; and parental rights and responsibilities for fathers. I was asked to present research to the Committee in March.  My research studied publicity about services for parents and children (web-based, booklets and leaflets etc) and the way that fathers, when depicted, are portrayed.  The research shows that in crucial areas of services' publicity, images of fathers are absent and families are described as such but pictured as without a father. Elsewhere, when fathers are mentioned, e.g. in case examples, they are always described in negative terms such as alcoholics or abusive.  I also looked at the images that were called up when the word 'parent' was entered into Council services website search facilities and, unsurprisingly, the vast majority of images across education and social services, showed only women.  I looked through the various websites of Government, the NHS, councils and third sector agencies and found this treatment of fathers fairly consistent.  I made the point to the Committee that this is as much detrimental treatment of mothers as it is fathers, conveying the message that children's health and well-being is mothers' sole responsibility.  The research was congratulated by members of the Committee and its report is available here:

My presentation can be accessed here:


Career History

I have been a qualified social worker since 1977 and worked in Edinburgh and London in the children and families, community care and criminal justice fields. My most recent social work practice was in after-adoption counselling with adopted adults and birth parents.  I am also an accredited practice teacher.


Funded research experience

Co-researcher on evaluation of ‘Men Care Too’, three training programme run by Kibble Education Care Centre; funded by European Social Fund, 2009–11

Co-researcher on evaluation of ‘Dad’s Work’, Edinburgh-based father’s support group; funded by Big Lottery Fund, 2008

Co-researcher on ‘Learning for Ethical and Effective Practice’ research programme; funded by the Scottish Institute for Excellence in Social Work Education (SIESWE), 2003-2006

Principal researcher on, ‘Evaluation of Learning for Practice’ (BSc/Masters Social Work Programme); also funded by SWSIE, 2005

Principal researcher on evaluation of Adoption Contact Register for Scotland; funded by Scottish Executive, 2003


Recent Publications

2013 Social Work with Fathers: Positive Practice, Edinburgh: Dunedin Press

2013 ‘Moral Panics, Claims-Making and Child Protection in the UK’, British Journal of Social Work, 43(4), 803 – 812

2013 ‘Moral Panics and Social Work: towards a sceptical view of UK Child Protection’, Critical Social Policy, 33(2), 197 – 217

2013 Where’s Dad? Father-proofing Your Work, Edinburgh: Fathers Network Scotland

2013 ‘Adoption and birth fathers’, Therapy Today, 24 (3), 20 – 26

2013 ‘Minding the Gap: Assisting the Transition from the Academy to the Profession’, Social Work Education, 32 (3), 411 – 415

2012 Adoption and Fostering in Scotland, Edinburgh: Dunedin Press

2012 ‘Scottish fathers: an absence in Scottish policies’ In Scotland: the best place in the world to bring up children?, Edinburgh: Parenting across Scotland

  • Cree, V.E., Clapton, G., Smith, M. (2012), 'The Presentation of Child Trafficking in the UK: An Old and New Moral Panic?', British Journal of Social Work, Published online: August 16, 2012.
    DOI: 10.1093/bjsw/bcs120
  • Smith, M., Cree, V.E., Clapton, G. (2012), 'Time to be heard: Interrogating the Scottish Government's response to historical child abuse', Scottish Affairs, Vol. 78, Winter, 2012: 1-24.
  • Clapton, G., Cree, V.E., Smith, M. (2012), 'Moral Panics and Social Work: towards a sceptical view of UK child protection', Critical Social Policy, Published online before print September 6, 2012.
    DOI: 10.1177/0261018312457860
  • Clapton, G., Forbes, R. (2009), 'Barefoot Tutors? Navigating the barriers between student, university and field in social work education', The Journal of Practice Teaching and Learning, 9(1): 5-19.
    DOI: 10.1921/146066909X481420
  • Clapton, G. (2009), ''Yesterday's Men': The Inspectors of the Royal Scottish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children, 1888-1968', British Journal of Social Work, 39(6): 1043 -1062.
    DOI: 10.1093/bjsw/bcn031
  • Clapton, G. (2009), 'How and Why Social Work Fails Fathers: Redressing an Imbalance, Social Work's Role and Responsibility', Practice: Social Work In Action, 21 (1): 17-34.
    DOI: 10.1080/09503150902745989
  • Clapton, G., Cree, V.E., Allan, M., Edwards, R., Forbes, R., Irwin, M., MacGregor, C., Paterson, P., Brodie, I., Perry, R. (2008), 'Thinking 'Outside the Box': A New Approach to Integration of Learning for Practice', Social Work Education: The International Journal, 27 (3): 334-40.
    DOI: 10.1080/02615470701379826
  • Clapton, G. (2008), 'Donor assisted conception and after: parallels and differences in the development of thinking, policy and practice in adoption', Journal of Fertility Counselling, 15 (3): 33-39.
  • Clapton, G., Daly, M. (2007), 'Bridging the Theory - Practice Gap: Student Placement Groups Co-Facilitated by Lecturers and Practice Teachers', Groupwork, 17 (3): 60-75.
    DOI: 10.1921/19634
  • Clapton, G. (2007), 'The Experiences and Needs of Birth Fathers in Adoption: What We Know Now and Some Practice Implications', Practice, 19 (1): 61-71.
    DOI: 10.1080/09503150701220515
  • Clapton, G. (2006), 'Mediated Contact: Reflections on a Piece of After-adoption Intermediary Practice', Adoption and Fostering, 30 (4): 53-63.
  • Clapton, G, Cree, V.E, Allan, M., Edwards, R., Forbes, R., Irwin, M., Paterson, W., Perry, R. (2006), 'Grasping the Nettle: Integrating Learning and Practice revisited and re-imagined', Social Work Education, 25 (6): 645-56.
    DOI: 10.1080/02615470600833634
  • Clapton, G. (2001), 'Birth fathers' lives after adoption', Adoption & Fostering, 25 (4): 50-59.
  • Clapton, G. (2000), 'Perceptions of fatherhood: birth fathers and their adoption experiences', Adoption & Fostering, 24 (3): 69-70.

Topics interested in supervising

Anything on fathers, or adoption (especially after-adoption issues). I am currently supervising three PhD students, the first of whom is looking at the experiences and needs of unaccompanied asylum-seeking minors in Greece, the second is studying the relationship between organisational culture and the lived experiences of child protection practitoners and my third student is exploring the use of social media by children in care. .

If you are interested in being supervised by Gary Clapton, please see the links below for more information:

PhD in Social Work