This blog is a summary of my 33-month Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) project between Lancashire Law School, the Policy Science Unit , UCLan and Inspira, a careers advice and guidance organisation. The aim of the KTP was to ‘to create, validate and market an innovative, family centred package of interventions to help achieve the aspirations of ‘disadvantaged’ secondary school students to realise their life ambitions’.
Background research was conducted with key stakeholders to gain an understanding of current views around challenges faced by ‘disadvantaged’ families in terms of aspirations and attainment. Alongside this, an international literature review provided an outline of contributing factors to aspirations and academic attainment, and provided an overview with other interventions on the market.
A community based research methodology was developed to gain privileged access to families considered ‘hard to reach’ by school. With the support of community gatekeepers, I conducted focus groups and interviews with 77 family members classed as ‘disadvantaged’ who did not engage with school. Informed by behaviour change models and the research findings, a number of different models of intervention were discussed by the KTP team. A brief solution focused approach was agreed to be an original, innovative, and rapid method to support parents overcome the challenges that were identified in the research.
Working with local schools, a pilot was developed and conducted in the community. The first sample size was initially small, and a second extended pilot was undertaken. A staff training package was also researched, developed and implemented, and external, accredited training for was provided for delivery staff. The efficacy of the pilot was reviewed through interviews with parents and delivery staff, and changes subsequently made. Implementation models, n evaluation framework and monitoring systems formed part of the final package. This final intervention is currently been prepared for wider roll out.
Personal development is a central component of the KTP framework and I am currently working on an MPhil/ PhD thesis using the data from the KTP. Furthermore, I have presented my work nationally and also at the ‘European Research Network about Parents in Education’ conference in Norway in August 2015. This was a wonderful opportunity to network and present my work to an international audience, and experience varied insights.
I have had an unforgettable experience and would recommendation a KTP to anyone who seeks to develop their academic research profile within an applied setting. It is a unique opportunity to understand the challenges of applying academic research in a commercial world, and I feel that I have developed a strong set of skills to work effectively in either field, both individually and as part of a team, strengthening my employability and future career prospects.