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New research project launched focusing on children's information

The Nuffield Foundation has awarded £2.8 million for an ambitious research programme to improve the lives of children and families by better understanding their needs and experiences.

Over the next five years, Professor Leon Feinstein, Director of the Rees Centre at the University of Oxford, will lead this innovative collaboration between local authorities and universities, including the Centre for Analysis of Social Exclusion at the LSE, to transform how information about and from children and families is gathered, interpreted and used in child and family social policy at both local and national level.

The project will focus on children and families who need additional support from local authority children’s services, who are often the most vulnerable and disadvantaged in society. For example, this will include children and families referred to children’s social care services; younger children who need help to have a good start at school; and children in care and young people leaving care.

Statistical or ‘administrative’ information about children and families - commonly known as data - can improve practice and policy, but there are gaps and complexities in how this information is used. Other types of information, particularly the views and expertise of children and families, are vitally important. This project aims to ensure children’s and families’ voices, and the views of practitioners, are heard and used to improve practice, services and policy.

The project includes five Local Sites. Greater Manchester, Oldham, Rochdale, North Yorkshire and Hampshire local authorities will work with academics from Oxford University, the University of Sussex and CASE at LSE, University College London and Manchester Metropolitan University to build capacity and understanding about how to better use administrative data, children and families’ voices and information from practitioners to improve services.

Researchers will collaborate with children, young people, parents, carers, professionals and policymakers to understand and shape how information can be used ethically and effectively. Local Sites will also explore how the use of these different types of information can be co-designed with children and families, and how to support sustainable learning and change. The project has not yet been named, as the intention is to include children and families and practitioners in deciding the name.

A series of workshops, webinars and podcasts will share learning with all those working with children and families, including researchers, practitioners and managers, and policymakers. Academic thinking in this field will also be shaped by a range of research outputs. A Learning Network, run by Research in Practice, will bring together 20 local authorities to test out the findings from the five Local Sites and to develop learning materials to support better information use across England.

Further information about this collaboration can be found here

News Posted: 14 October 2021      [Back to the Top]

New Research Assistant position

We are looking for an enthusiastic graduate Research Assistant (RA) to assist Prof Gough on his Leverhulme Foundation funded research, ‘Valuing What Matters: From efficiency to sufficiency’. The appointment will last for 12 months starting November 1st 2021. The RA will be appointed at pre-doctorate level and is part-time at 40% of full time equivalent post. The starting date and the pattern of work-time are reasonably flexible. The RA will be based in Centre for Analysis of Social Exclusion (CASE) at the London School of Economics (LSE). LSE is committed to building a diverse, equitable and truly inclusive university.

Details of the background, scope and goals of the research project are given in the attached document: the proposal made to and accepted by the Leverhulme Foundation. The research intends to develop a theory of value that counterposes human needs to wants or preferences. In empirical terms the goal is to determine minimum and sustainable maximum limits to consumption and income/wealth and the implied differences between essential and inessential labour. The combination will develop a theory and applied operationalisation of the concept of ‘sufficiency’ in a world with mounting ecological constraints.

The RA will conduct inter-disciplinary desk research in two major areas.

  • To discover, collate and synthesise a wide range of research sources on minimum incomes and assets, on necessary and luxury consumption, and on essential and inessential work.
  • To analyse recent practices on citizen dialogue as a vehicle for achieving consensus on these issues.

Key Elements of the Role
Specific elements of the role include:

    • Undertake literature reviews relevant to the project in academic and ‘grey literature’ and in social and other media.
    • Undertake specific research tasks and write up case studies and research briefings.
    • Collect and assess recent debates in the media on themes including wellbeing, sustainability and sufficiency.
    • Track relevant seminars and conferences, and assist in the preparation of presentations.

Person Specification
1. Essential Knowledge/Experience

The RA should be someone with excellent research and analytical capabilities, who is able to turn their hand to a wide remit, and learn quickly on the job. The successful applicant should have a broad social science knowledge, an enthusiasm for the topic and an interest in developing their skills. They should be passionate about the challenges of achieving fair levels of human wellbeing in the contemporary context of growing ecological constraints. In particular:

  • A well-informed knowledge of and interest in debates on climate change, sustainability and wellbeing.
  • A relevant first degree in social science
  • Background academic training in at least one of the following: philosophy, political theory, economics, ecological science, environmental policy, social policy.
  • Strong interest in research and applied policy
  • Experience of research, including literature reviews
  • An ability to think critically
  • A passion for alternative thinking on approaches to such problems

2. Preferred/Optional

  • A masters level degree

3. Key Skills

  • Strong time management skills
  • Good writing and summarising skills
  • Good IT skills, including a high level of proficiency in Microsoft Office software and experience in academic research through internet searches and the management of bibliographic databases
  • Confident communication skills
  • A creative thinker

This unique opportunity offers the successful applicant the chance to work with leading experts at the interface of sustainability and equity issues.

Please email a concise CV together with a short statement (no more than 500 words) as to why you consider yourself appropriate for this post; to Ms Nora Takacs: marked for the attention of Professor Gough by October 31st 2021.

Unfortunately we will not be able to sponsor candidates for a visa for this role so you must have eligibility to work in the UK.

News Posted: 29 September 2021      [Back to the Top]

A Better State of Welfare: A symposium in honour of John Hills

A symposium was held on 9th of July 2021 in honour of John Hills as part of the Social Policy Association conference.
Following opening remarks by Professor Julian Le Grand, four former doctoral students of the late Professor John Hills discussed aspects of their subsequent work that had been inspired and informed by him.

The video recording of the symposium is available on Youtube here.


News Posted: 09 July 2021      [Back to the Top]

SPDO research finds child poverty is on the rise

Dr Kitty Stewart and Mary Reader wrote an article on the Independent about their newly published research, The Conservative Governments' Record on Early Childhood from May 2015 to pre-COVID 2020: Policies, Spending and Outcomes. Among many others, it is highlighted that child poverty is on the increase, especially in households with children under five. The Independent article is available here.

News Posted: 01 February 2021      [Back to the Top]