ACEs: ‘Adverse Childhood Experiences’

In December 2017, the UK House of Commons Science and Technology Select Committee launched an Inquiry into the evidence-base for early years intervention, with a particular focus on programmes influenced by the concept of ‘Adverse Childhood Experiences’ or ACEs.

CPCS associates and social policy specialists from a number of universities were concerned that the inquiry’s remit was open to considering contributions that were more circumspect about the ACEs approach. Professor Rosalind Edwards, University of Southampton; Professor Val Gillies, University of Westminster; Professor Ellie Lee and Dr Jan Macvarish, University of Kent; Professor Susan White, University of Sheffield and Professor David Wastell, University of Nottingham therefore collaborated to produce a submission which sets out some grounds on which the claims made about ACEs might be questioned.

Watch the Committee Session with Professors Sue White and Ros Edwards giving evidence

Read the written contribution here

After the submission was published by the Committee, it was circulated to fellow academics similarly concerned about the limitations of the ACEs approach.

Respondents listed below. Read commentary here: Discussing the Problem with ACEs

Subsequent work has also included the publication of a special themed section of Social Policy and Society, Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACES) – Implications and Challenges with article commissioning led by Professors Ros Edwards, Val Gillies and Sue White. CPCS’ Ellie Lee and Jan Macvarish contributed a paper ‘Constructions of Parents in Adverse Childhood Experiences Discourse’

Respondents to the Submission included:

Professor Erica Burman, Manchester Institute of Education, The University of Manchester. Read Erica’s response here.

Dr Sarah Bekaert, Senior Lecturer Child Health, Oxford Brookes University

Paul Bywaters, Emeritus Professor of Social Work, Coventry University

Dr. Robbie Duschinsky, Head of the Applied Social Science Group within the Primary Care Unit, and Director of Studies in Sociology at Sidney Sussex College, Cambridge

Professor Dan Goodley, School of Education, University of Sheffield

Professor David Gillborn, Director, Centre for Research in Race & Education, University of Birmingham

Dr Dimitra Hartas, Associate Professor, Centre for Education Studies, University of Warwick. Read Dimitra’s response here.

Dr. Michael Lambert, Institute of Psychology, Health and Society, University of Liverpool

Professor Kate Morris, Head of Department of Social Work, University of Sheffield

Dr Lindsay O’Dell, Director of Postgraduate Studies, Faculty of Wellbeing, Education and Language Studies, The Open University

Dr Jessica Pykett,Senior Lecturer in Human Geography, University of Birmingham

Professor Diane Reay, Faculty of Education, University of Cambridge

Professor Roger Smith, Professor of Social Work, Durham University

This page will be kept up-to-date with the progress of the inquiry. Further contributions and comments can be emailed to