Full-Time PhD based in Centre for Child Wellbeing and Protection

To critically examine the impact of Scotland’s framework for children’s services upon the wellbeing of children in Scotland

This is a unique opportunity to apply for a full-time, PhD Studentship based in the newly formed Centre for Child Wellbeing and Protection.  The Studentship is fully funded by the University of Stirling in partnership with Children in Scotland, Social Work Scotland, NHS Forth Valleyand The Aberlour Child Care Trust. 

Number of awards Final place available of three
Value £14,210 per annum
Deadline 26th February 2016
The Centre for Child Wellbeing and Protection
The newly established Centre for Child Wellbeing and Protection undertakes original research and engages in a range of educational and knowledge exchange activities focused on enhancing the lives of children who are vulnerable to compromised development because of a range of personal, familial and social adversities. The centre brings together internationally recognised experts in social work, child protection, education and maternal and child health. The Centre is based in the Faculty of Social Science (soon to be the new School with Education), working closely with the Faculty of Health Sciences and Sport and the Nursing Midwifery and Allied Health Professions Research Unit. The centre has links more widely across all Schools in the University. There is expertise in both quantitative and qualitative methods, and particular strengths in analysis of large datasets, children’s participation, co-production with practitioners, implementation science and behavioural change. Stirling hosts WithScotland, the national centre that supports child protection policy, practice and research and also adult support and protection activities. Stirling, thus, provides a distinctive combination of applied research, practice networks, qualifying and post-qualifying education and knowledge exchange and implementation.
The Faculty of Social Sciences
SOSS is a new School comprising what was the Faculty of Social Sciences. SASS was an integrated multi-disciplinary grouping of around 40 academic staff with research and teaching interests in sociology, social policy, criminology, housing studies, social work and dementia. The School received the highest possible ratings for Sociology and Social Work in the most recent teaching quality exercises. There is a sustained successful research record and in the 2014 Research Excellence Framework, 75% of the research was assessed as internationally excellent or world leading, with the top 24% of the work judged as world leading.
The School had an international reputation for its research work on social gerontology, social responses to dementia, children and young people, child welfare and protection, families and relationships, problem solving justice, women in prisons, violence against women, qualitative research with a variety of service users, the reuse of qualitative social survey data sets, inclusionary policy and governance, housing studies, minorities experiences of social services and exclusion, social and ethnic identity and quantitative longitudinal analysis of large scale social survey data sets.
The Faculty of Social Sciences has been highly regarded within the education community and has a strong presence through local and global professional networks. The SoE was ranked first in Scotland for the quality of its research in Ref2014.As a rese arch-led centre for excellence, it was recognised for high quality and innovation in teaching and research. Research originating in SoE is in two main areas: professional learning and leadership; and curriculum and pedagogy. Education is viewed as having a vital role to play in a developing society, whilst facing many challenges arising from political, economic, social, cultural, environmental and technological changes taking place. The School provides a critical space within which to address these challenges with students and facilitate the generation of ideas that enhance the role of education in a range of contexts. SOSS hosts ‘ProPEL’ (professional practice education and learning), an international network of researchers interested in all aspects of professional learning. It also hosts WithScotland a national centre for expertise on child and adult support and protection. SOSS is a partner in the ESRC-funded Scottish Doctoral Training Centre and recognised to receive studentships in Social Work, Social Policy and Sociology, Education and several multidisciplinary areas.
The Faculty of Health Sciences and Sport
The School is one of the UK’s premier health research schools. The School works with partners to provide high quality clinically-relevant and public health related research in the UK and internationally. The School conducts world-leading research to improve health and to inform in nursing, midwifery and other health professional practice and will continue to exchange knowledge and skills with partners.
Central to the strategy is the ability to improve the health/illness experience of individuals and communities, including those in rural and remote areas. This is done through impact in research, education, practice and policy at a national and international level. The research builds the capacity and capability of nursing, midwifery and allied health professional researchers. Staff have expertise in a wide range of research methods including action research, complex interventions, mixed methods and RCTs. Researchers also have active international collaborative links with academics in other disciplines. Applied research and multidisciplinary research are encouraged, and there is a commitment to theoretical and methodological advances.
The Nursing, Midwifery and Allied Health Professions Research Unit (NMAHP RU)
The NMAHP RU is a national research unit, core funded by the Scottish Government’s Chief Scientist Office, with bases at University of Stirling and Glasgow Caledonian University. Its remit is to develop high quality research which is has a direct impact on the wellbeing of the people of Scotland. The unit strives to involve NMAHP practitioners in all its research activity and to develop capacity and leadership in research through clinical academic research engagement. There are currently approximately 50 members of staff covering diverse professional backgrounds and academic disciplines. The NMAHP Research Unit develops and conducts research on NMAHP interventions for fundamental care and therapy, and research in how to improve the quality and delivery of NMAHP practice and decision making.
Funding partners
Children in Scotland is the uniting voice for the children’s sector in Scotland. Its vision is to make Scotland a world leader in achieving the wellbeing of every child and improving the quality of every childhood.
Social Work Scotland is the leadership organisation for the social work profession, representing social workers and other professionals who lead and support social work across all sectors.
NHS Forth Valley is governed by a Board of Directors and is accountable to the Cabinet Secretary for Health and Well-being through the Scottish Government Health Directorate. The Board controls an annual budget of £550 million, and is responsible for providing health services and improving the health for the population of Forth Valley.
Aberlour Child Care Trust is a charity that focuses on children, young people and families across Scotland, helping transform their lives for the better by supporting them through challenges like living with a disability, growing up in and leaving care, and the impact of drugs and alcohol on families.


The three studentships address the ambition of the Scottish Government ‘To make Scotland the best place in the world to grow up for all babies, children, mothers, fathers and families’ and are aligned with three objectives of the National Performance Framework:
• Our young people are successful learners, confident individuals, effective contributors and responsible citizens.
• Our children have the best start in life and are ready to succeed.
• We have improved the life chances for children, young people and families at risk.
With policies such as Getting it right for every child, The Early Years Framework, National Parenting Strategy, Curriculum for Excellence and Better Health: Better Care, Scotland is in a potentially strong position to improve the lives of children. The Children and Young People (Scotland) Act 2014 has now enshrined the concept of wellbeing in statute, within the overarching framework of the SHANARRI Wellbeing indicators. Central to the Act is the aspiration that children’s wellbeing is promoted, supported and safeguarded and that they receive seamless services, provided as far as possible by practitioners in education and health services who will assume the role of ‘named persons’ for children. For children whose needs are beyond the scope or capacity of the named person service the Act provides for a single planning process supported by a Lead professional. These policies are being implemented against the background of the full scale reorganisation to integrate health and social care services across Scotland. There is, therefore, a unique opportunity in Scotland for in-depth critical analysis of the impact of these developments as they unfold in a changing and challenging real – world context. These three studentships will each contribute to this agenda with distinct but interlinked research projects (one studentship addressing each of social work, education and health).
N.B The remaining place is for a project that will focus on the perspective of the role of education and schools as part of the multi-disciplinary network of support for children.
The overarching research question:
• Is Scotland’s framework for children’s services helping to make children’s lives better?
The student, will contribute, along with the two other students, to the development of the newly formed Centre for Child Wellbeing and Protection and be core members of the associated cross-disciplinary research group. The student will also have opportunities to spend time with the funding partners and to contribute to wider policy and practice development activities.

How to apply

Supervision and management
The supervisory team will include Professors Helen Cheyne (NMAHP Research Unit), Brigid Daniel (Faculty of Social Sciences) and Cate Watson (Faculty of Social Sciences). They will be based within the Faculty of Social Sciences (SOSS). The student will each be supported to develop their own research project that will stand-alone and bring an original contribution to the field. At the same time the three students and all supervisors will meet together on a regular basis to explore the contribution of each sub-project to the overall project aims. The project will be supported by an advisory group that will include representatives of the funding partners. Financial Support: The studentship is available for three years and includes a tax-free stipend of £14,210 p.a. Tuition fees will be met by the University at the home /EU rate. If an appointee is from overseas, the difference between the home and overseas fee must be met from other sources. Subject to satisfactory progress review at the end of the first year, the studentship will be renewed for a second year and thereafter for a third year. The studentship will have an anticipated Registration date of 1st April 2016. Application Requirements:  Eligible Applicants have to hold at least a Bachelor (Hons.) Degree of either First Class/Upper Second Class in Social Science, Education or Health.  A Master’s degree in a related discipline would be desirable.  Experience in working or volunteering in the field of early years health, education or social work would be an advantage.
PhD community
There is a vibrant PhD community at Stirling, with extensive training and development opportunities. Research students are invited to participate in the life of schools contribute where applicable to teaching, and present their work in supportive peer led seminars. There is also support to develop work for publication, and opportunities to engage with policy makers and practitioners to maximise the impact of research. All students are supervised by two supervisors and there are clear and transparent processes for support for progression with
regular review processes. The University Graduate School offers a wide range of training and development opportunities for all PhD students and supports the online support system ‘Research Compass’.
To apply please e-mail:
(i) One A4 page covering letter outlining your suitability, why you are interested in pursuing a PhD in this area, and any other information relevant to the application
(ii) A paper of around 2000 words outlining a possible research project focussed on the role education and schools as part of the aspiration for seamless services for children in need of support and protection
(iii) Your academic CV with contact details for two academic referees (one of whom should be a project supervisor)
(iv) Copies of your academic transcripts
Applications should be sent in the first instance to sassrpgoffice@stir.ac.uk.


For further project information please contact Professor Brigid Daniel,  Professor Helen Cheyne  or Professor Cate Watson

This scholarship was added on 01/02/2016

© University of Stirling FK9 4LA Scotland UK • Telephone +44 1786 473171 • Scottish Charity No SC011159
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