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Bullying of LGBT+ pupils: School contextual risk and protective factors

  • Full or part time
  • Application Deadline
    Monday, March 02, 2020
  • Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)
    Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

Project Description

The aim of this project is to examine the role of school contextual factors in the bullying of LGBT+ students. Across a number of studies it has been found that young people who are LGBT+ are at a greater risk of peer victimisation and mental health problems. At the same time, there has been increasing recognition that there are considerable variations across schools in levels of bullying. Yet, only a small number of studies have examined school differences in the experiences of LGBT+ students. Given the increased risk for LGBT+ pupils, there is a clear need to examine the question of variations across schools and to identify the factors that explain such differences for this group of students.

The project will be supported by a new collaboration with the Proud Trust, an organisation that works closely with schools to help them achieve the Rainbow Flag award – a quality assurance framework that focuses on LGBT+ visibility and inclusivity. It will enable us to assess the contribution of this work, and examine the relative importance of the framework’s six areas of activity: Skilled teacher; Supportive governors and parents; Effective policies; Inclusive curriculum; Pastoral support; and Pupil Voice. We will work together to refine the audit tool and the training that the Proud Trust provides to schools.

A 2-month internship in the first year of the PhD will enable the student to become accustomed to the work of the Proud Trust within schools to give them a unique insight into the criteria for an LGBT+ inclusive school.

We will use a large-scale quantitative multi-level study involving 20 schools within Greater Manchester and Cheshire, and approx. 6000 students aged 11-16 years. The students will complete a series of established measures to assess: demographic variables (e.g. gender identity, sexual orientation); peer victimisation; school belonging; and psychological adjustment. They will also complete additional self-report measures developed during the first year of the project to assess school-level factors (e.g. Skilled Teacher). A staff survey will also provide an additional source of data to measure the school-level factors. We will also assess other school level factors such as the size of the school, the percentage of self-identifying LGBT+ students, different types of schools (e.g. faith v non-faith schools), urban v rural, and breadth of school inclusion policy. Multi-level modelling will be used to enable different levels of analysis (e.g. individual and school) and for interactions between levels to be examined.

Aims and objectives
The Proud Trust has a set of criteria for the assessment of schools that are centred around six main areas: Skilled teacher; Supportive governors and parents; Effective policies; Inclusive curriculum; Pastoral support; and Pupil Voice. Working closely with the Proud Trust we will measure these school-level factors using innovative and robust methods. We will go further in identifying the specific factors that contribute to the reduced risk, e.g. the relative importance of an inclusive curriculum, as opposed to supportive governors and parents. Working together, we will assess the usefulness of the current criteria for assessing schools and work towards refining the audit tool and the training that the Proud Trust provides to schools.

The main hypothesis that we will be testing is as follows: ‘The risk of peer victimisation and associated mental health problems for LGBT+ pupils is reduced in schools that are LGBT+ inclusive’.

While the main study has already been designed in terms of the broad parameters we plan to investigate, there is plenty of scope for the PhD student to put their own stamp on the project, especially in the first year, with the qualitative work and the development of the school level measures.

The student will benefit from support provided by a supervisory team that includes Dr Claire Fox (Lead Supervisor), Dr Steph Ainsworth (2nd supervisor) and Dr Ali Hanbury (of the Proud Trust). Dr Claire Fox will provide support regarding the literature on school bullying, multi-level modelling, and use of R. Dr Steph Ainsworth will also provide support with research design and advanced quantitative methods as well as guidance on the broader literature around resilience and wellbeing within schools. Dr Ali Hanbury, at the Proud Trust, will support the student during their time within the organisation (e.g. induction, training needs, internship activities), and help the student to develop links with other external organisations. The project will also benefit from support from a wider advisory group with input from other staff working within the Proud Trust, in addition to young people that are supported by the organisation.

Funding Notes

This opportunity is open to UK/EU applicants and includes funding for the equivalent of UK/EU fees. For UK students or those who meet residency requirements, an annual stipend is also included.

Related Subjects

How good is research at Manchester Metropolitan University in Education?

FTE Category A staff submitted: 22.50

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