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Research into how growing up in disadvantaged areas affects children

Teenage girl, smoking a cigarette, sitting in front of a graffiti-covered wall

An OU academic has received funding to take part in research which looks at how children are affected by growing up in what are considered, disadvantaged areas.

Dr Wendy Turner, Associate Head of School, Curriculum/Senior Lecturer in the Faculty of Wellbeing, Education & Language Studies, is a collaborator on the Growing up in left behind places: Children as researchers and change-makers for which she received just over £388,000.

The 21-month project, funded by the Nuffield Foundation, which starts on 1 September 2022, will look at how recent social, economic and cultural change and the effects of COVID-19 have impacted on children. It will work with a sample of up to 120 children aged 10-15 years from three locations: Deighton, a poorer neighbourhood within the former northern industrial town of Huddersfield; Coffee Hall, a poorer suburban neighbourhood in the affluent new town of Milton Keynes; and Mablethorpe, an economically disadvantaged rural east midland coastal area.

The project will use participatory action research involving a core group of children as co-researchers.

Dr Turner, who will lead on the research in Milton Keynes, said:

“This study will respond to the gap in knowledge around the impact of recent changes on children, generating robust new insights to inform policy and practice aspirations to ‘Build back Fairer’ in order to reduce the disadvantages experienced by so many children.

“This research is distinctive in that it adopts a holistic approach to understanding the way in which socio-economic and wider social changes have impacted the lives of children growing up in disadvantaged contexts through the eyes of children themselves and in dialogue with those who directly shape children’s lives.”

The Growing up in left behind places: Children as researchers and change-makers project is led by the University of Huddersfield with the OU and University of Lincoln as collaborators.

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