Dr Helen O’Keeffe


Research Qualifications
  • Children of prisoners
  • Prison/University research partnerships
  • Cultural Partnerships
  • Food poverty and hunger in schools
  • Third sector working


  • BA (Hons) Classics
  • PGCE (Primary)
  • MA (Education)
  • Postgraduate Certificate in Teaching and Learning in Higher Education
  • PhD (Education)
Teaching Affiliations
  • Children of prisoners
  • Social justice
  • Reflective practice
  • Third sector working
  • Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts (FRSA)
  • Associate Member of the British Dyslexia Association (AMBDA)
  • Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (FHEA)
  • Member of the British Educational Research Association (BERA)
  • Member of the BERA Social Justice Special Interest Group (SIG)
  • Member of the BERA Initial Teacher Education Special Interest Group (SIG)
Phd supervision Contact
PhD supervision themes include – children and families of prisoners, mental health and wellbeing in children, qualitative studies relating to marginalised groups, community working, the new professional and social justice. Recent PhD external examination includes – University of Birmingham, University of Chichester and University of Central Lancashire.

Helen is currently an external examiner for a PGCE Primary programme at one Higher Education Institution and for the BA (Hons) Primary Education with QTS at another.

Dr Helen O’Keeffe
Faculty of Education
Edge Hill University
L39 4QP
Email:   Helen O’Keeffe
Twitter:  @hvjok


Dr Helen O’Keeffe is the Associate Dean (Students and External). Prior to this, she was a member of the Primary Education team at Edge Hill for 12 years. In this time, she has held the role of Senior Lecturer, Primary Full Time Year Leader, Programme Leader, Assistant Head of Primary and Early Years Education, Head of Primary Education and Head of the Department of Children, Education and Communities.

Helen’s professional background is in both mainstream and SEN/D Primary school settings. Helen’s work and research involves significant engagement with a range of partners including schools, social enterprise, charities, multi-agency teams and on-going collaboration with academics and professionals locally, regionally and nationally. She works with a range of third sector organisations in relation to her research interests, for example, Barnardo’s, Everton in the Community, Tate Liverpool, Can Cook Liverpool and HM Prison Service. This has led to and continues to lead to strong research collaborations with impact on service users.

Publications: Reports

  • O’Keeffe, H and Ragonese, E (2018) HMP Altcourse Needs Analysis: commissioned by HMP Altcourse


  • Jones, J., O’Keeffe, H. and Smith, A. (2019) Tackling the Blues: A sport and education based mental health programme for children and young people in Breslen, G and Leavey, G. (eds) Mental health and well-being interventions in sport: A case study analysis. London: Routledge.

Journal Articles:

  • O’Keeffe, H. and Riding, D, Grimshaw, N and Talbot Landers, C (2019) ‘What are you doing? Oh I’m just looking at the art’: Children in residence at Tate Liverpool. Impact – Journal of the Chartered College of Teaching 7: p72-73
  • O’Keeffe, H. (2019)   ‘Start treating me like a Dad!’ The impact of parental involvement in education on the paternal identity of fathers in the English prison system. Cambridge Journal of Education48 (2), 197-213.
  • O’Keeffe, H. (2013) The Invisible Child: Perspectives of Headteachers about the role of primary schools in working with the children of male prisoners’ The Prison Service Journal, 209, 24-28
  • O’Keeffe, H (2008) ‘Supporting children of prisoners within school – the emerging role of the SENCO?’ SENCO Update 97
  • O’Keeffe, H (2011) Fathers in prison and their participation in the education of their primary school aged children, Educate, 11(2), 2-5

Knowledge Exchange and Conferences:

  • O’Keeffe, H. and Riding, D, Grimshaw, N and Talbot Landers, C (2019) “Developing a sustainable model of cultural engagement for schools:  Reflections on co-production between the cultural, higher education and school sectors  – British Educational Research Association Conference, Manchester University – September 2019
  • O’Keeffe, H. and Mooney, K. (2018) “Meeting the Needs of Hungry Children: Teachers’ Experiences of hunger in Primary Schools in the North West of England – British Educational Research Association Conference, Northumbria University – September 2018
  • O’Keeffe, H. and Ragonese, E. (2018) “Building a resettlement culture within a local prison: A case study of partnership working between practitioners, researchers and educators (children and families provision) – The Howard League for Penal Reform Conference, University of Oxford – March 2018
  • O’Keeffe, H (2018) Parental Involvement in Education: The rights of prisoners’ children – Children’s Rights European Academic Network, University of Geneva – January 2018
  • Ragonese, E. and O’Keeffe, H. (2017) “The missing piece of the jigsaw?: The role and value of prison education in the resettlement journey”  European Criminology Conference, University of Cardiff – September 2017
  • O’Keeffe, H (2016) “Reputation in education: Prisoners’ families navigating the transition in their reputation within highly entitative school communities and at what cost?” – British Educational Research Association Conference, University of Leeds, September 2016
  • O’Keeffe, H (2016) “Fathers in Prison, Children in School: The challenge of participation and the potential for transformation” – The Howard League for Penal Reform 150th Anniversary Conference, Oxford University – March 2016
  • O’Keeffe, H (2015) “Start treating me like a Dad!’ Imprisoned Fathers’ perceptions of their engagement in the education of their children” – British Educational Research Association (BERA) Conference, Queens University Belfast, September 2015
  • O’Keeffe, H (2015) “Reputation in education: How families of prisoners address the transition in their reputation within highly entitative school communities and at what cost?” – European Conference for Educational Research (ECER) Budapest, September 2015
  • O’Keeffe, H (2015) “The Invisible Child: Headteachers’ perceptions of working with the primary school aged children of prisoners and the implications for Initial Teacher Education” – Teacher Education Advancement Network (TEAN) Conference, Aston University, Birmingham – May 2015
  • O’Keeffe, H (2013) “The face of prison in primary schools: the children of male prisoners and their schools’ – 27th March 2013” – The Prison and The Public Conference, Edge Hill University
  • O’Keeffe, H (2013) “Confronting the challenge: using a Solution Focused Approach to make school placement a rewarding time for undergraduate students in their initial teacher training’” – North of England Education Conference – 18th January 2013
  • O’Keeffe, H (2012) “Developing Resilience in Primary Undergraduate ITT Trainees using the Solution Focussed Approach” – Solution Focussed Practice Annual Conference– 14/15th June

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