Professor Joan Forbes

Honorary Professor

Education University of Stirling, Stirling, FK9 4LA

Professor Joan Forbes

Contact details

  • Telephonec/o 7940

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About me

About me

I am an honorary professor in education at the Centre for Child Wellbeing and Protection, Faculty of Social Sciences, and emeritus at the University of Aberdeen having previously been reader and senior lecturer in education there. My research embraces social theory and policy sociology. My published studies on inter/professional working, children’s public services, gender and education, poverty and children, and elite schooling are both empirical and theoretical.

I was Director of Research and School Executive member, Director of the Centre for Children’s Services Research and Policy Study and a Scottish Funding Council funded Applied Educational Research Scheme, Schools and Social Capital Network Fellow. I was co-principal investigator and grantholder for a Scottish Universities Insight Institute programme of research on poverty and children; and for two Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) funded seminar series on inter/professional practice in children's public services. I have been a member of the UK ESRC Peer Review College since its inception in 2010. I am currently on the Editorial Board of the British Educational Research Journal (BERJ) and Child Language Teaching and Therapy (CLTT); and was previously on the Editorial Boards of Scottish Educational Review; Education in the North; British Journal of Special Education; Journal of Research in Special Education; and Support for Learning. I am editor of two books from ESRC funded seminars series which I led: Service Integration in Schools: Research and Policy Discourses, Practices and Future Prospects (Sense, Rotterdam/London) and The Transformation of Children's Services: Examining and Debating the Complexities of Inter/professional Working (Routledge, London/New York), both with Cate Watson.


My research engages with social theory to understand educational and societal connections related to a childhood social justice and equalities agenda. My research is located at the intersections of children's sector transformations; schools, social and multiple capitals; inter/professional knowledge and practice relations; independent schooling and privilege; spatio-temporalities of schooling; and gender, education and social policy.

Current Research

Centre for Child Wellbeing and Protection, University of Stirlng research collaborations. New chapter:

Forbes, J. (2018) Multi-agency working. Scottish Education. The Fifth Edition 2018. Pp748-759. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press.

Leading Women Study (2017-2019) with Professor Claire Maxwell, University of Copenhagen and Professor Elspeth McCartney, University of Stirling. A Scottish Independent Schools Project (SISP) related study on elite schooling, agency and affect. New chapter:

Forbes, J. & Maxwell, C. (2018) ‘Bourdieu Plus: Understanding the Creation of the Agentic, Aspirational Girl Subject in Elite Schools’ in Stahl, G., Wallace, D., Burke, C & Threadgold, S. (2018) International Perspectives on Theorizing Aspiration: Applying Bourdieu’s Tools. Bloomsbury, London.

The Language for All study. Understanding child sector practitioners' knowledge, skills and social and multiple capitals across multiagency pathways for children with speech, language and communication needs (a research collaboration with the University of Newcastle and University of Stirling). New papers:

McKean, C., Law, J., Laing, K., Cockerill, M., Allon-Smith, J., McCartney, E., Forbes, J. (2017) A qualitative case study in the social capital of co-professional collaborative co-practice for children with speech language and communication needs. International Journal of Language and Communication Disorders, 52.4, 514-527.

Forbes, J., McCartney, E., McKean, C., Laing, K., Cockerill, M., Law, J. (2018) Co/productive practitioner relations for children with SLCN: an affect inflected agentic frame. Discourse: Studies in the cultural politics of education,

Children and young people's experiences and views of poverty and inequalities: policy and practice implications. Scottish Universities Insight Institute funded research programme. Programme Co-PI with Dr Daniela Sime, University of Strathclyde. Collaboration with Glasgow School of Art, Child Poverty Action Group, and Glasgow City Council. Four related policy briefings publications and seminar series information available at:

Paper: Forbes, J. & Sime, D. (2016) Relations between child poverty and new migrant child status, academic attainment and social participation: Insights using social capital theory. Education Sciences, 6.24, doc: 10.3390/educsci6030024

Outputs (22)


Conference Paper (unpublished)

McCartney E & Forbes J (2021) Social capital in professionals' connections around digital support for children with DLD: beyond the Covid-19 crisis. 1st International Developmental Language Disorder Research Conference (IDLDRC2021), Online, 20.09.2021-22.09.2021.

Book Review

Forbes J (2020) Engines of Privilege: Britain's Private School Problem (Book Review). Review of: Engines of Privilege: Britain's Private School Problem. David Kynaston and Francis Green, Bloomsbury. 2019, pp. 336. ISBN: 978-1-3500-4006-9. Scottish Educational Review, 52 (1).

Book Chapter

Forbes J & Maxwell C (2018) Bourdieu Plus: Understanding the Creation of Agentic, Aspirational Girl Subjects in Elite Schools. In: Stahl G, Wallace D, Threadgold S & Burke C (eds.) International Perspectives on Theorizing Aspirations: Applying Bourdieu’s Tools. Social Theory and Methodology in Education Research. London: Bloomsbury, pp. 161-174.

Book Chapter

Forbes J (2018) Multi-agency Working. In: Bryce T, Humes W, Gillies D & Kennedy A (eds.) Scottish Education. The Fifth Edition. 5th ed. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, pp. 748-758.

Book Chapter

Forbes J & Lingard B (2018) 'Assured Optimism in a Scottish Girls’ School: Habitus and the (Re)Production of Global Privilege', British Journal of Sociology of Education, 36, 1, 2015, 116-136. In: Van Zanten A (ed.) Elites in Education, Volume 3: The Fabrication of elite identities in families and schools. Major Themes in Education. London: Routledge.


McKean C, Law J, Laing K, Cockerill M, Allon-Smith J, McCartney E & Forbes J (2017) A qualitative case study in the social capital of co-professional collaborative co-practice for children with speech language and communication needs. International Journal of Language and Communication Disorders, 52 (4), pp. 514-527.


Forbes J & Sime D (2017) My generation: Involving children and young people in decisions that affect them will be the only way to ensure meaningful solutions to address poverty. Children in Scotland, (179), p. 27.

Book Chapter

Forbes J & Weiner G (2016) 'Independent' in Scotland: elite by education?. In: Maxwell C & Aggleton P (eds.) Elite Education: International Perspectives. Abingdon: Routledge, pp. 29-41.

Research Report

Forbes J, Sime D, McCartney E, Graham A, Valyo A & Weiner G (2015) Poverty and children's access to services and social participation. Policy Briefing. Scottish Universities Insight Institute.

Research Report

Sime D, Forbes J & Lerpiniere J (2015) Poverty and children's education. Policy Briefing. Scottish Universities Insight Institute.

Book Chapter

Forbes J & McCartney E (2012) Changing children's services: A social capital analysis. In: Hill M, Head G, Lockyer A, Reid B & Taylor R (eds.) Children's Services: Working Together. Abingdon, UK: Routledge, pp. 275-287.;

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