PhD Studentship An Evaluation of ‘Troubled Families’ Policy in Cornwall

Faculty of Health, Education and Society

An Evaluation of ‘Troubled Families’ Policy in Cornwall: Transforming lives for those most in need and shaping family services for future challenges

Cornwall Council – Children, Families and Schools

DoS: Professor Bill Jordan, Professor of Social Work, School of Social Science and Social Work

2nd Supervisor: Dr Tanya Ovenden-Hope, Head of School of Social Science and Social Work, Associate Professor (Education)

3rd Supervisor: Anna Mankee Williams, Senior Manager Directorate Support, Cornwall Council

Applications are invited for a three-year PhD studentship. The studentship will start on October 1st 2013.

Project Description

The ‘Troubled Families’ policy was introduced by the government in March 2012 in response to the 2011 city riots.

The programme aims to engage with an estimated 1270 families in Cornwall who meet certain national criteria and are likely to be of high cost to public services. By using an intelligence led, whole family approach the programme will support families achieve a range of positive outcomes by;

  • Increasing educational attendance and reducing exclusion rates
  • Reducing anti-social behaviour and youth offending
  • Increasing the number of people in work or engaging in work related programme

Cornwall Council took action to address the government concerns about ‘troubled families’ by using additional local criteria including the ‘toxic trio’ of mental health problems, substance misuse and domestic abuse. These additional criteria seek to identify and support those perceived to be most in need based on existing evidence and needs assessments.

It is suggested that in order to transform lives, a multi-agency approach is required. This project will require an investigation of not only social services, but also education and health provision. Therefore Plymouth University and Cornwall Council are offering the studentship in partnership to secure a thorough investigation of the ‘Troubled Families’ agenda, its implementation and impact in Cornwall and a recommendation for future provision for the transformation of the lives of those families most in need of support in rural areas.

The successful candidate will benefit from membership of the Social Science Doctoral Training Centre and training in research methods relevant to the investigation. The research will be conducted in Cornwall and the successful candidate will be expected to be based in Truro at New County Hall, attending Plymouth University on a regular basis.  


Applicants should have a minimum of a first or upper second class bachelor’s degree in relevant discipline, such as Social Work, Sociology or Education. Applications from candidates with a relevant Masters qualification will be welcomed. Knowledge and research experience in an area of social science will be desirable.


The studentship is supported for 3 years and includes full Home/EU tuition fees plus a stipend of £13,726 per annum. The studentship will only fully fund those applicants who are eligible for Home/EU fees with relevant qualifications. Applicants normally required to cover overseas fees will have to cover the difference between the Home/EU and the overseas tuition fee rates (approximately £9,790 per annum).


For further information on the project or for an informal discussion, please contact Dr Tanya Ovenden-Hope at: or Anna Mankee-Williams at:

Applicants should send a completed application form along with a covering letter detailing their suitability for the studentship, C.V., and 2 references to Charmain Dawe, School of Social Science and Social Work, Faculty of Health, Education and Society, Rolle Building, Drakes Circus, Plymouth PL4 8AA or e-mail

Closing date for applications: 12 noon on the 15 July 2013.

Shortlisted candidates may be invited for interview in late July or early September. We regret that we may not be able to respond to all applications. Applicants who have not received an offer of an interview by 22 July 2013 should consider their application has been unsuccessful on this occasion.

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