PhD Research Studentship Exploring the Physical Education/School Sport Experiences of Looked-After Children

Applications are invited for the above studentship in the School of Sport, Exercise & Health Sciences, Loughborough University, commencing October 2013.

There is an established belief in the potential of sport and physical activity (PA) to contribute to young people’s positive development and address problems of disadvantage, disaffection and disengagement. Sport/PA programmes have also been identified as helping build resiliency among young people facing difficult life circumstances. Research has shown that, as a group, looked after children (LAC) are at risk of a number of poor outcomes and often fail to match the achievements of their peers due, in part, to difficult and disruptive school experiences. Given the acknowledged capacity for sport/PA to contribute to positive youth development, it has been argued that there is potential for curricular and extra-curricular physical activities to play a key role in LAC’s educational experiences. It has been noted, however, that LAC can have problems accessing such opportunities and that teachers/schools are often ill-prepared to meet the needs of this particular group. This research aims to explore the physical education/school sport experiences of LAC, in order to gain a better understanding of the opportunities they receive and challenges they face, as well as the role that such activities play in promoting positive youth development. In this way, it seeks to enhance knowledge understanding and practice in what is, at present, an under-researched area.

Applicants should have a good first degree in Sport and Exercise Science (with a strong pedagogy or sociology component), Physical Education or related disciplines. An MSc in one of these areas is also highly desirable. In addition, applicants should have excellent oral and written communication skills, as well as confidence in qualitative and participatory research methods.

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The studentship provides a stipend of £13,726 per annum plus tuition fees at the UK/EU rate for up to three years.

Informal enquiries about the project should be made to Dr Rachel Sandford (

Information about the School of Sport, Exercise and Health Sciences and details about the application process can be found by clicking the Apply link below.

 The closing date for applications is Wednesday 8 May 2013.

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