Helping parents and children to get ready for school

by Helen Victoria Smith

Making sure children have the right opportunities for learning and development in their earliest years so they can be ‘school-ready’ has been a key part of successive UK governments’ approaches to raising educational achievement and promoting economic progress. But concerns around large numbers of children arriving at school without the skills they need to succeed have been steadily growing.

Based on a study in a small town in the East Midlands, my research revealed how mothers of children under five and early years’ professionals understood the concept of ‘school readiness’ and how this shaped what they did. Continue reading

Lessons from Europe on fuel poverty: sharing knowledge globally

by Harriet Thomson

Fuel poverty, which is more commonly referred to as energy poverty outside the UK, occurs when a household experiences inadequate levels of essential energy services (such as heating, cooling, and lighting). Fuel poverty is a distinct form of poverty associated with a range of adverse consequences for people’s health and wellbeing – with respiratory and cardiac illnesses, and mental health, exacerbated due to low temperatures and stress associated with unaffordable energy bills. It is estimated that almost 60 million households in the EU are experiencing fuel poverty.

Whilst fuel poverty is gaining increasing recognition across Europe, and has been identified as a policy priority by several key institutions – including the European Commission and European Parliament – just a few years ago there were substantial gaps in knowledge about the issue. Continue reading

Using a Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) to transform youth justice

by Anna-Christina Jones and Hannah Smithson

A ‘new take’ on Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) projects

After securing a pioneering Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) project in the youth justice sector, joint funded by the AHRC and the ESRC, we have spent the past two years working collaboratively with young people and practitioners to develop a truly transformative model of working with young people in the justice system across Greater Manchester.

Our new model, called the Participatory Youth Practice Framework (PYP), has been developed by working not consultatively but collaboratively with young people themselves, learning about their identities, cultures and backgrounds and bringing those experiences into the development of this new model of youth justice practice.

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Celebrating the impact of women in social science

by Fiona Armstrong

International Women’s Day is a celebration of the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women around the world. So the perfect moment to reflect on how women in social science have been making our lives better – a topic that one blog post can barely scratch the surface of!

The contribution of women to the social sciences is rich and diverse, although not always well documented. Where to start? With Florence Nightingale? Surely the mother of the modern infographic and a champion of quantitative social science as well as a pioneer in the field of nursing. Where to end? With the winners of the ESRC’s Impact Prize – where women continue to change the world through high quality research?  Continue reading

Life behind bars: can prison be better than this?

Anastasia Chamberlen is Assistant Professor in Sociology at the Department of Sociology, University of Warwick and is researching in the fields of prison sociology, feminist criminology and criminal justice.

English and Welsh prisons are undergoing one of their most challenging periods in decades. As I’m writing this piece, news emerges of yet another outbreak of violence in an English prison. This time, it’s the high security HMP Long Lartin in Worcestershire, a prison described by the Ministry of Justice as ‘well-staffed’, which saw 81 prisoners take over a wing, raising once again concerns about safety and order in English carceral institutions.

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