HEMS 3: Breaking down barriers and levelling up in higher education: Good practice in supporting Gypsy, Traveller, Roma, Showmen and Boater (GTRSB) learners to access, achieve and thrive in the academy

Faculty: Health, Education, Medicine and Social Care

Supervisors: Prof Margaret Greenfields and Dr David Smith

Interview date: 29 March 2022

This doctorate which has been developed in academic collaboration between ARU and Buckinghamshire New University (BNU) builds upon the supervisory team’s extensive body of work on social inclusion and levelling up for members of Gypsy, Traveller and Roma communities, and recent work with Showmen and Boater populations.

The project will focus on overcoming barriers to engagement in education, and access to good quality work (including through training and apprenticeships) for Gypsy, Traveller, Roma, Showmen and Boater (GTRSB) communities. It is underpinned by the Good Practice Pledge to support the academic attainment and pathways to (and retention within), higher education of GTRSB communities (Greenfields, 2019; Greenfields and Smith, 2020; Smith, et.al, 2021). The Pledge was developed following extensive consultation and engagement activities with NGOs, community members, policy professionals and academic researchers. Institutional hosting of the Pledge website and resources are provided by BNU.

As part of the Pledge activities an extensive network of GTRSB community members with experience of higher education, as well as NGOs, HEIs and FE providers has been formed. This is supported by engagement with the OfS and speaking to strategic ‘levelling up’ priorities of Government departments, including workstreams which enhance understanding of the barriers and enablers to education which support pathways to FE and HE for members of GTRSB communities.

The successful candidate will actively engage with this network of practice (which is supported by Dr Carol Rogers and Sherrie Smith of Buckinghamshire New University), community groups, students and graduates from the GTRSB communities, and other policy and practice networks, to explore the needs of WP and Access departments in relation to engagement with GTRSB communities, and to inform the DfE specialist advisory panel on GRT education, relevant APPGs, specialist NGOs, and others.

The student will support and utilise the network, including development of pertinent resources and learning activities to underpin research into good practice, and measures of success and activities delivered by individual participant HEIs and colleges in partnership with GTRSB community groups and expert community members. Furthermore, they will analyse the impact of policy and knowledge transfer arising from engagement with the Pledge and network of practice.

A mixed methods approach will be utilised, rooted in inter-disciplinary policy, legal and educational qualitative research and policy engagement underpinned by use of administrative data sets and emergent findings from the network's developing action research activities.

A second strand of work will explore the impact on GRTSB students, potential students (and their families and communities) of increasing confidence in entering into FE and HE (potentially including access to apprenticeships/training) occasioned by increased visibility and ‘recognition’ of their communities in the academy, as evidenced by HEIs and other educational establishments committing to the Pledge.

Given the requirement to engage with multiple stakeholders including HEIs and members of the diverse GTRSB minoritized communities who are under-represented in the Academy, we strongly welcome applications from GTRSB candidates with lived experience of higher education.

The supervisory team for this project, Prof Margaret Greenfields and Dr David Smith, with additional specialist support provided by Dr Carol Rogers, have made significant contributions to the development and operationalisation of the GTRSB Pledge at national (Greenfields) and institutional (Smith) level. All three academic team members (Greenfields, Smith and Rogers) have extensive consultative experience and active engagement with NGOs, community members and policy professionals working in collaboration with the GTRSB communities in diverse areas of social inclusion. Greenfields and Smith have backgrounds in Social Policy, and Rogers is a specialist in inclusive early years education.

If you would like to discuss this research project prior to application please contact Principal Supervisor Professor Margaret Greenfields at margaret.greenfields@aru.ac.uk with VC Scholarship in the subject line of your message.

Apply online by 27 February 2022.

Funding notes

This successful applicant for this project will receive a Vice Chancellor’s PhD Scholarship which covers Home tuition fees and provides a UKRI equivalent minimum annual stipend for three years. For 2022/3 this will be £15,609 per year. The award is subject to the successful candidate meeting the scholarship terms and conditions. Please note that the University asserts the right to claim any intellectual property generated by research it funds.

Download the full terms and conditions.