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Dr Sarah Crafter

Profile summary

  • Senior Lecturer in Psychology
  • Faculty of Arts & Social Sciences
  • School of Psychology
  • Psychology
  • sarah.crafter

Professional biography

I started at The Open University in January 2017 as a Senior Lecturer in Psychology, where I am currently acting as a Head of Discipline within the School of Psychology. Prior to that I worked in the Thomas Coram Research Unit at University College London, Institute of Education. I have also held a lectureship at the University of Northampton. My academic interests lie in the area of migration, diversity and the development of identities. I am a developmental and cultural psychologist by background and my theoretical and conceptual interests are grounded in sociocultural theory, transitions, critical or contested ideas of ‘normative’ development, past experience and cultural identity development. I am co-book editor for the journal Children & Society and have a long-standing involvement with the Special Interest Group (SIG21) in Teaching and Learning in Culturally Diverse Settings. This group is part of the European Association for Learning and Instruction (EARLI). Additionally, I belong to the British Psychological Society and belong to the Psychology of Women’s Section, Qualitative Methods in Psychology and Developmental Psychology section.

Research interests

My academic interests lie in the area of migration, diversity, belonging, identities and practices, with a focus on children, young people and families. By background I am a developmental and cultural psychologist and my theoretical and conceptual interests are grounded in sociocultural theory, transitions, critical or contested ideas of ‘normative’ development, past experience and cultural identity development. More recently, I have begun to explore the concept of cultural contact zones in culturally diverse settings and how they act as social spaces of uncertainties, clashes, ambiguities, unequal power relations and possibilities.

My research grants

I have been awarded the following research grants:

2017-2019: Evaluating ‘Enhancing Pragmatic LAnguage skills for Young children with social communication disorder’ (E-PLAYS): A feasibility study (Co-applicant). National Institute for Health Research (NIHR)

2016-2017: NAOS Project: Strengthening teacher capacities for working in diverse schools (Invited consultant).  Erasmus + project for the Sirius Network (University of Risbo, The Netherlands)

2016-2017: A warm welcome: Separated child migrants in the care-asylum nexus (Co-applicant). UCL Insitute of Education Special Projects Initiative

2016-2016: Exploring the care of children, by children in ‘the jungle’, Calais (Co-applicant). UCL Global Engagement Fund for initiatives with global partners.

2015-2016: Child language brokering: Spaces of belonging and mediators of cultural knowledge (Principal Investigator). Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC)

2012-2013: Child language brokering in school (Co-applicant). Nuffield Foundation

2011-2013: Mathematics learning trajectories of immigrant students: conceptualizing personal and sociocultural processes (Invited consultant). Dirección General de Investigación, Ministerio  de Educación y ciencia, Spain.

2011-2012: Excalibur: CAMHs Multi-Agency Intervention and Support Barometer (Principal Investigator). South Essex Partnership Trust

2010-2011: Examining drinking cultures: motivations and behaviours of young people who binge drink in Northamptonshire (Co-applicant). Northants Partnership and Well Being and Centre for Children and Youth

2006-2008: Evaluating the clinical environment for users of the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (Principal Investigator). NIRH: NHS Estates Research and Development Fund, Department of Health

My work with child language brokers

I have a longstanding interest in working with child language brokers, who are children and young people who translate and interpreter for family members after migration to a new country. This interest began whilst I was working in an ESRC funded-project, led by Dr. Lindsay O’Dell, which sought to understand young people’s representations of children’s work. Two ‘non-normative’ or ‘atypical’ forms of work that we focused on were child language brokering and young caring. From there, I became Co-I on a Nuffield Foundation funded project looking at child language brokering in schools. More recently, the Arts and Humanities Research Council funded a project under the ‘Translating Cultures Innovation Fund’ to examine how child language brokers negotiate cultural knowledge across different spaces of identity belonging. This project was supplemented by funding from a Beacon Bursary for Public Engagement fund, which facilitated arts-based workshops and exhibitions with young people who act as language brokers. I have also overseen the development of a web-based resource about child language brokering aimed at children and young people, professionals and academics.

My work on separated or unacommpanied minors

Recently I have been working in collaboration with Rachel Rosen (UCL) on research that explore the care of children, by other children when they are unaccompanied refugee minors. Preliminary work in this area was funded by the UCL Global Engagement Fund and involves working with an interdisciplinary team of academics, professionals and charities/NGOs to examine how unaccompanied minors navigate care and asylum systems. The first pilot study involved a visit to the Refugee camp in Calais, France. A subsequent pilot study involved interviews with thirteen professionals involved in some form of 'care' relationships with separated child migrants (e.g. from social work, law, foster care, police and immigration and border control).

Research in other settings

In the past I have been funded by the National Institute of Health Research to examine users’ experiences of the built environment in outpatient Child and Adolescent Mental Health settings. More recently, I have been invited by Risbo University to act in a consultancy capacity to be part of an EU ERASMUS Plus project called NAOS. The overall project seeks to improve issues of diversity and migration in schools. My involvement will include visits to schools to deliver workshops that use contemporary media to examine social psychological issues such as stereotyping and ethnic identity issues.

Teaching interests

I am currently chair for the Masters in Psychology module  'Evaluating Psychology: Research and practice (DD803)'. In this module we explore three areas that make up a fundamental part of everyday life: Home, Work and Society. To do so, we explore those areas through the lens of social, cognitive, counselling and forensic psychology.

I welcome enquiries from students who wish to study for a PhD. I am most interested in research that takes a cultural and/or critical psychological perspective on everyday practices of children, young people and families. This could be in areas of migration, identities, belonging, transitions and diversity. I usually supervise qualitative projects.

Impact and engagement

Most of my impact work has centred on my work with child language brokers. Children’s language brokering activities take place against a backdrop of long-standing and ongoing austerity measures, which show no signs of easing. This has resulted in large cuts to language services, including professional and community translating and interpreting. The reality is that children will be used for this practice. Our aim then, is to explore and understand the lives of children and young people who are engaging in a practice that is already happening. All the negative situations, as well as the positive.

To help raise awareness of the issues surrounding the use of child language brokering we have been working with young people and using art-based approaches to enable to them to give their views.

Funding and engagement activities

2017 (11th July) ‘Being a young interpreter. Migration Museum Project, London, UK. Delivered as part of ESRC Knowledge Exchange Dialogues Scheme led by Erel, U., Mohan, G., & Keith, M. (2017). ‘Understanding and Communicating Migration Issues through Arts. With this blog:

2016-2016: Many voices, many languages: Being a young interpreter. Bloomsbury Arts Festival (with Humera Iqbal and Claire Robins, UCL)

2015-2016: Many voices, many languages: Being a young interpreter. UCL Beacon Bursary for Public Engagement (with Humera Iqbal and Claire Robins, UCL)

2013-2015: Language Brokering: online public user information and engagement tool. HEIF Next Generation Fund (with Ann Phoenix)

Digital outputs

As part of our explore ‘Language brokers as cultural mediators of cultural knowledge, identity and belonging’ study (funded by the AHRC and undertaken with Humera Iqbal, University College London) we asked a group of language brokers to develop their own podcasts about their experiences of arriving in a new country, learning a new language and becoming a language broker. They spoke about both positive things, as well as the challenges. You can listen to some of their narratives in this short animation about ‘My life as a young translator’. Our hope, is that this animation will give other language brokers the stimulus and confidence to talk about their language brokering practices.