School of Education, Communication and Language Sciences

Staff Profiles

Karen Laing

Senior Research Associate



I am Senior Research Associate and Co-Director of the Centre for Learning and Teaching. My work centres around conducting research that aims to make a difference to the lives of vulnerable children, young people and families. This includes specialising in how different professionals work together to deliver services and opportunities for children (particularly involving schools), the participation of young people in research, interventions and social justice.

Methodologically,  I am developing new ways of using theory-based methodologies (theory of change) in project development and evaluation, and incorporating visual and participatory methods.

I have a keen interest in co-creation, and of the processes involved in stimulating change from research. I am currently Impact and Engagement Champion for Education, and a University VCSE Innovation Champion, working to encourage engagement with the university by those living and working in the region and beyond.


Current research projects:

MyCorridor (Horizon 2020)

Knowledge Exchange secondment with Wallsend Action for Youth (ESRC IAA)

ACCOMPLISSH project (Horizon 2020)

Developing a theory of change and evaluation plan for Blackpool HeadStart (Blackpool Council)

Evaluation of 'Young in Wallsend' (WAfY)

Developing a Children's Community in the West End of Newcastle (ESRC IAA Open Chair)

Changing Stories (ESRC IAA)

Little Big Butterfly Evaluation (LBB)

Thinking Differently Dissemination Project (JRF)

Assessing the Impact of Theory of Change Approaches

Teaching for Tomorrow Erasmus project evaluation

Previous research projects:

Organisational review of Wallsend Action for Youth (WAfY)

Evaluation of InHarmony (Sage Gateshead)

Developing a new model of Video Interaction Guidance (VIG) for Blackpool (NSPCC)

Youth Participation in Council Services (Northumberland County Council)

Evaluation of Gateshead MASH (Gateshead Council)

Evaluation of Thinking Differently (young people's role in alcohol reduction projects in Scotland) (Joseph Rowntree Foundation)

Evaluation of MPACT in schools (intervention for families affected by substance misuse) (Comic Relief/Royal Foundation)

Out of school activities and the education gap (Nuffield Foundation)

Building a Children's Community in Newcastle West - a feasibility study (Children NorthEast)

Choices Together - Widening Participation for Looked After Children  (Catherine Cookson Foundation)

Young people's Views of Fairness in Education (NISR)

Supporting aphasia (Catherine Cookson Foundation)

Language for All: Understanding the multi-agency pathway for children with speech, language and communication needs (North Tynesdie Council) 

Evaluation of the Pupil Premium (DfE)

Narrowing the Gap: Technology enhanced learning initiatives 

Evaluation of the Diamond model: co-production of services (ILG)

Links into Language: Evaluation of projects to encourage language acquisition

Review of Fairness in Education (ILG)

The participation of children and young people in research (AHRC)

 A review of research of interventions in aspirations and attitudes: influencing educational attainment (Joseph Rowntree Foundation)

 Evaluation of Sub 21 alcohol prevention project (Mentor UK)

 Just for A Laugh Evaluation of Alcohol Education (Mentor UK)

 Evaluation of the Disadvantage Subsidy in Somerset and Wiltshire

National Evaluation of Extended Schools (DfE)

 National Evaluation of the Disadvantage Subsidy (DfE)

 Understanding Child Contact in Scottish Courts (Scottish Executive).

 National Evaluation of Budget-holding Lead Professionals for Children in Care (DCSF).

 National Evaluation of Family Pathfinders with York Consulting (DCSF)

 Understanding the needs of adults, particularly parents, for relationship support (DCSF)

 The evaluation of Information Meetings and Associated Provisions under the Family Law Act 1996 (Funder - Lord Chancellors Dept.).

 Two Years On - A follow-up study of those attending an Information Meeting under the Family Law Act 1996 (Dept. for Constitutional Affairs).

 Work to support the evaluation of 'On Track' - developing a guide to assessing children at risk of offending behaviour (Home Office).

 Dysfunctional Families: A web-based toolkit for Crime Reduction Partnerships (Home Office).

 Risk, resilience and diversity: Pathways into and out of crime – Prisoners Families (ESRC Priority Network).

 Parenting under Pressure: Prison - An evaluation of a book about the family relationships of prisoners in collaboration with Young Voice (Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Fund) 

  National evaluation of Youth Inclusion and Support Panels (Dept.for Education and Skills).

 National evaluation of Family Group Conferencing (Youth Justice Board).

 National evaluation of Family Advice and Information Services (Legal Services Commission).

 National Evaluation of Budget-holding Lead Professionals (Dept for Education and Skills).




I am currently teaching on research methods modules for postgraduate students in the school of ECLS.