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Manchester Institute of Education

Strategies to break links between social and educational disadvantage

Our researchers have supported a range of projects and evaluations of approaches to tackle the link between deprivation and poor educational attainment. Their work has informed national initiatives, but also revealed how research-led interventions can develop effective strategies.

Researchers can work closely with schools, local authorities and others in developing effective strategies to improve outcomes for disadvantaged children.

Backs of school children in a classroom. One holds out a red pen. The number 18 is overlaid in white text.
18 different research-based interventions were evaluated by the team.

In England and other affluent countries, governments spend significant resources to tackle the lower educational attainment of children and young people from disadvantaged backgrounds.

Our research has generated better theoretical frameworks and developed working models that practitioners and policy-makers have used to guide their interventions.

Working on a variety of projects with schools and local authorities, we have supported the development of clear strategies and programmes, for example:

  • New practices for disadvantaged children in a group of 14 schools in one local authority. Substantial local community programmes in two schools.
  • A 'cultural change' initiative in children's services across one local authority

The research team also developed the idea of Children's Zones that are now being rolled out nationally with support from a coalition of national organisations including Save the Children UK.

The findings of our DfES-funded national evaluation of Full Service Extended Schools (FSES) (2003-2007) were reported directly to policymakers and provided an evidence base for the transformation of the extended schools agenda to a policy for all schools and extended services.

Professor Dyson has chaired task groups for the 'Marmot review' of the social determinants of health in England (2010) and in Europe (2011-13). This work has been translated directly into recommendations for policymakers, adopted, for instance, in the EU Health 2020 policy.

Our research

Red map pin stabbed into a map.
The research team developed the idea of Children’s Zones, now being rolled out nationally.

The research team has worked on 18 projects and significant evaluation studies for Government and its agencies, not least the national evaluation of 'Full Service Extended Schools', with the University of Newcastle.

The work has explored how, and how far, research interventions at various levels can weaken the link between social and educational disadvantage. Together the collaborations have demonstrated that an iterative implementation of 'development and research' (D&R) projects can disturb the disadvantage-outcomes link provided they tackle a range of disadvantaging factors in a coordinated way. The local, contextual evaluation D&R interventions can in turn inform further developments, refinements and new initiatives.

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Further information