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Personal profile

Academic Biography

Diane is a registered social worker with Social Work England – registration SW62215.


Diane qualified as a social worker in 1985 from Lancaster University with a BA (hons) Social Work and a Certificate of Qualification in Social Work (CQSW). 


Diane began her social work career with Manchester City Council, working in an adult social care (hospital based) team.  After 3 years, Diane moved into a child care (adolescent) team in central Manchester, working primarily in child protection and youth justice work.  In 1990, Diane moved to Cornwall to work in children’s services, initially undertaking generic child care work (including adoption work) but following re-organisation, was based in a child protection team.  Diane qualified as a practice teacher (practice educator) in 1992 and has a long standing interest in the education of student social workers.


In 1992, Diane obtained employment with the NSPCC (based in Lincolnshire) where she worked until 2004.  The work at the NSPCC included complex assessments and therapeutic work with children who had been abused or were displaying harmful sexual behaviours.  From 2002 – 2004, Diane was seconded to a specialist, multi-agency funded post, as Co-ordinator for Children and Young People with Harmful Sexual Behaviours.  This post was created to support, train and offer consultancy to multi-agency practitioners working with children/young people with harmful sexual behaviours.  Diane’s MA project (2000) was a mixed methods project exploring factors which promoted or blocked practice with children/young people who sexually harm others. Diane also holds the AASW (Advanced Award in Social Work).


In 2004, Diane accepted employment with Lincolnshire County Council as a Training and Development Officer within children’s services. In this post, Diane was responsible for both commissioning and designing training for staff within children’s services including front line child protection teams, the children with disabilities teams and staff within children’s homes.  Diane also worked on training delivered by the Local Safeguarding Children Board (LSCB). 


Diane moved into higher education in 2006 working at the University of Lincoln as a senior lecturer in social work.  Diane was primarily involved in teaching the pre-registration (BSc and MSc) Social Work students although she also contributed to teaching on the Approved Mental Health Practitioner (AMHP) programme, the undergraduate nursing and health and social care programmes and the Erasmus Mundus funded programme for international social workers.  Diane taught on a range of modules on the social work programmes at the University of Lincoln including child development, fitness to practise, contemporary social work, communicate and engage, decision making and problem solving and placements.


Having obtained her doctorate (EdD) in 2016, Diane moved to Teesside University to teach on the BA (hons) Social Work programme and act as course leader for the Continuing Professional Development (CPD) programme.  Diane has taught on a range of modules at Teesside University including Safeguarding, Law and Social Policy, Human Transitions and Lifespan Development.  In 2017, Diane became course leader for the BA Social Work programme, a role that she relinquished in September 2018 to become placements co-ordinator for the BA and MA Social Work programmes.  Diane is also module leader for Practice Education 1. 


Diane has also worked with students to co-create a buddying programme for social work students; an initiative that has been received well by students.


Diane is involved in working with partners in the Tees Valley area on the Assessed and Supported Year in Employment (ASYE) group.  She has also supported a number of initiatives from the teaching partnership.

Summary of Research Interests

Diane’s research interests are broad and varied.  Her early projects and outputs were concerned mainly with co-construction of knowledge and research with students (e.g. evaluating the social work degree; students as mentors; developing a conceptual model for co-production).   Diane has a number of outputs and conference presentations on collaborating with student researchers.  Additionally, Diane has written about, been involved with projects and undertaken conference presentations on pedagogical practice (e.g. creating open educational resources, developing an e-portfolio).  Diane has also undertaken research about social work placements leading to co-authored journal articles and a book. In 2011, Diane was involved in a scoping study funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council to examine the concept of communities for looked after children.


Diane’s doctoral work entitled “Being and Becoming a Social Work Academic: Negotiating Transitions and Identities” examines the experiences of social work practitioners who become social work academics, exploring transition experiences and the plurality of academic identities.  Diane’s doctoral work utilised a Foucauldian theoretical framework drawing upon and merging the concepts of disciplinary power, technologies of self, subject positions and discourses.  Her thesis supports, extends and challenges Foucault’s work.  Diane has presented papers on her doctoral work at the Society for Research into Higher Education (SRHE) annual conference (2014 and 2015). 


Diane is currently involved in a project with Professor Dorothy Newbury-Birch which is funded by Public Health England to evaluate the impact of the prevention concordat for better mental health.  Diane is also in the process of applying for honorary researcher status with Public Health England. 


Research Projects & External Funding

2018- 2019.  Public Health England (£9,999.40 and a further £5000 - total £14999.40).  Measuring the positive effects/impact of the prevention concordat for better mental health.  Newbury-Birch, D. (PI) and Simpson, D.


2013 - 2014. Awarded £1,339 by University of Lincoln. First Steps - an exploration of the practice of newly qualified social workers in child protection. Mathews, I. (PI); Crawford, K. and Simpson, D. with Breakell, S. and Blanchard, S.


2011-2012. Arts and Humanities Research Council – Communities in Care (£31,000). A scoping review to establish the relationship of community to the lives of looked after children and young people (Hicks, L. (PI), Simpson, D., Mathews, I., Crawford, K. with Koorts, H. and Cooper, K.)


2011 – 2012.  The Higher Education Academy (Teaching Development Grant) (£7000).  ‘From Enjoyment to Employment: Student Volunteering and Employability’ Crawford, K. (PI), Mathews, I. and Simpson, D.  Small project exploring student volunteering, co-produced with students.  


2011- 2012. Higher Education Academy (£5000). Open Educational Resources and e-portfolios for students and practice educators on undergraduate and postgraduate work-based learning awards (with Crawford, K. (PI), Mathews, I., Goemans, R., McCavish, J., McKinnon, J., Murray, S. and Studd, M.).  Co-production of open educational resources with students to support work based learning.


2009 – 2010.  The Higher Education Academy; SWAP Subject Centre (£5000). Students as Mentors: Changing the next Generation (Crawford, K. (PI), Simpson, D. and Mathews, I.)


2009 - 2010. University of Lincoln Funded Project. ‘Ideals and Realities: evaluating the Lincoln BSc (Hons) Social Work and the extent to which it prepares students for work in professional practice.’ (stage 2) with Mathews, I. and Croft, A. – PHASE 2.


2008 – 2009.  University of Lincoln Funded Project.  ‘Ideals and Realities: evaluating the Lincoln BSc (Hons) Social Work and the extent to which it prepares students for work in professional practice.’ with Mathews, I. and Croft, A. – PHASE 1.  Small research project examining the impact of the newly introduced social work degree, co-produced with students.


Education/Academic qualification

Professional Doctorate, University of Lincoln

Award Date: 30 Jun 2016

External positions

External Examiner - Foundation degree in social care, Grimsby Institute

Sep 2012Aug 2016

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Buddy Up!

Simpson, D., Fletcher, S., Kelly, M., Mendum, I., Pearson, B. & Lockwood, A.


Project: Research

A scoping review to establish the relationship of community to the lives of looked after children and young people

Simpson, D., Hicks, L., Mathews, I., Crawford, K., Koorts, H. & Cooper, K.


Project: Research


Research Output

Open Access
  • 11 Downloads (Pure)

    'I hope to find myself’. Social work students’ initial encounter with practice explored in the context of professional identity

    Matthews, I., Griffiths, A., Hunt, R., McIntyre, K. & Simpson, D., 1 Nov 2018, In : Journal of Practice Teaching and Learning. 15, 1, p. 24-38 15 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  • From potential to reality: the development and use of an eportfolio in social work learning and assessment.

    Simpson, D., Mathews, I., Hunt, R. & Saunders, H., 4 Apr 2016.

    Research output: Contribution to conferencePaper

  • From potential to reality: the development and use of an e-portfolio in social work education.

    Mathews, I., Beeken, A., Simpson, D., Saunders, H. & Hunt, R., 9 Dec 2015, Society for Research into Higher Education.

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

  • Social work academics’ subject positions: convergence and divergence

    Simpson, D., 9 Dec 2015, Society for Research into Higher Education (SRHE).

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

    Open Access