Adrian Ward book front cover

Leadership in Residential Child Care by Adrian Ward

Adrian Ward has written and edited many book and articles on residential child care, social work, professional education and psychoanalytic ideas. His early professional background was in residential care, but he went on to teach at the Universities of Reading and East Anglia, and at the Tavistock Clinic in London, as well as offering supervision and consultation to many staff groups and leaders. In 2012 he was given a Lifetime Achievement Award for services to residential child care by the Scottish Institute for Residential Child Care.


His books include Working in Group Care, Therapeutic Communities for Children and Young People, and Relationship-Based Social Work (both co-edited). He now lives in Norwich, UK, and continues to write and edit in this and other fields.

When still in his mid-twenties, Adrian Ward was appointed to run a large residential home for troubled young children in London. It was a time of enormous challenge and deep learning, as he discovered some hard-won truths not only about needy children and their families but also about life in general and leadership in particular.

In this book he analyzes the task of leadership in this setting, based partly on his own experience in the role but also on his extensive later work as a lecturer and staff consultant with many other residential staff and leaders. The book is full of gripping incidents and extraordinary occasionally bizarre situations, and the ideas discussed are made highly accessible by Adrian’s personal and sometimes humorous style.

The whole book is underpinned by a deep concern for the psychological well-being of a group of deeply unhappy and confused young people, but although the discussion is focused primarily on the residential context, the book also has profound lessons for the leadership task in many other settings.

An account of the genesis of the book is given by Adrian Ward here on the website of



“This is the book on leadership the residential child care field has been waiting for, and only Adrian Ward could have written it. I started reading it, and could not put it down until I had devoured the entire book; you can read it in an evening, but you will find yourself returning to it frequently. It contains an immense amount of insight, wisdom and real life examples in a deceptively concise fashion. If you hold a leadership position at any level in residential care for young people, you must read this book. It is AN INSTANT CLASSIC.”

“Finally we have a book on leadership that is fully congruent with the principles and practice of therapeutic residential care. For managers, directors and supervisors, it will be like having an expert personal consultant at your side at all times - this is A GREAT CONTRIBUTION TO OUR FIELD! ”

Professor James Anglin, School of Child and Youth Care, University of Victoria, BC, Canada


“I thoroughly enjoyed (this book) and feel it is essential reading for every residential unit. I found myself laughing, close to tears and nodding my head in complete agreement. Most of all it struck a chord with me as I could relate to Adrian’s journey into leadership in residential care”

Review of first edition in Scottish Journal of Residential Child Care

“Low on jargon, mercifully almost free of imperatives, and with a fluidity of thought, the text did not make me feel lectured to, but more that I was being persuaded to allow my mind to join in a discourse about a subject which the author has thought about a great deal and wishes to share. I, for one, am glad he has done this.”

Review by Charles Sharpe in Goodenoughcaring Journal

A beautifully produced hardback book of 192 pages.

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Leadership in Residential Child Care