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Evaluating and developing interventions to enhance access to sports talent pathways for children from disadvantaged backgrounds.


   Centre for Rehabilitation

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  Dr Matthew Wright  No more applications being accepted  Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project

Sport England’s “Talent Plan” is a system that underpins National Governing Bodies talent development pathways and aims to support progression of (mostly) young people towards becoming high performing athletes across sports. The Talent Plan feeds international success at major events (Commonwealth Games and Olympic and Paralympic Games). It is also the ambition that, whilst most young athletes in talent development pathways will not compete at elite levels, their experience should build a foundation for long-term physical and mental health. Unfortunately, access to participation in the Talent Plan for children from low-socio economic groups is poor.

The physical geography of the Tees Valley combined with periods of widespread industrial decline has left the area marked by sharp contrasts in income inequality, levels of socio-economic deprivation and entrenched social and community difficulties. Tees Valley ranks as having the highest proportion of LSOAs in the most deprived 10% nationally and all five local authority areas rank amongst the 15% most deprived authorities in England (Tees Valley Combined Authority, Local Level Results 2019). As such, children in the Tees Valley face numerous barriers to progression in sport.

Indeed, 4 out of the 5 local authority areas in the Tees Valley demonstrate levels of obesity in Year 6 significantly higher than regional and national averages. Our research has shown that these inequalities are magnified further for young people with disabilities who currently experience difficulties joining in physical education in schools.

In response, Sport England are engaged with Tees Valley Sport to develop “on the ground” solutions.  Tees Valley Sport have identified three “community hubs” (Billingham, Darlington and Loftus) and the aim of this applied PhD is to take a wholistic approach to  understanding the specific barriers to entry and progression through the Talent Plan in these hubs; evaluating current strategies and initiatives to overcoming barriers to participation for children from disadvantaged backgrounds; and, informing the development of Sport England Talent Plan and Tees Valley Sport’s “Amplify” programme which supports talented athletes in the locality. 

Entry Requirements

Candidates should hold a master’s degree in Sports Development or related discipline, and experience related to athletic development. Expertise in intervention development, evaluation, and qualitative research methods would be highly desirable.

Further details of the expected background may appear in the specific project details. International students will be subject to the standard entry criteria relating to English language ability, ATAS clearance and, when relevant, UK visa requirements and procedures.​

How to Apply

Applicants should apply online for this opportunity at: https://e-vision.tees.ac.uk/si_prod/userdocs/web/apply.html?CourseID=1191

Please use the Online Application (Funded PHD) application form for the year starting ‘October 2021’. When asked to specify funding select “other” and enter ‘RDS’ and the title of the PhD project that you are applying for. You should ensure that you clearly indicate that you are applying for a Funded Studentship and the title of the topic or project on the proposal that you will need to upload when applying. If you would like to apply for more than one project, you will need to complete a further application form and specify the relevant title for each application to a topic or project.

Applications for studentships that do not clearly indicate that the application is for a Funded Studentship and state the title of the project applied for on the proposal may mean that your application may not be considered for the appropriate funding.

For academic enquiries, please contact Dr Matthew Wright: [Email Address Removed].

For administrative enquiries before or when making your application, contact [Email Address Removed].  


Funding Notes

The Fees-Paid PhD studentship will cover all tuition fees for the period of a full-time PhD Registration of up to four years. Successful applicants who are eligible will be able to access the UK Doctoral Loan scheme https://www.gov.uk/doctoral-loan to support with living costs. The Fully Funded PhD Studentship covers tuition fees for the period of a full-time PhD Registration of up to four years and provide an annual tax-free stipend of £15,000 for three years, subject to satisfactory progress.
Applicants who are employed and their employer is interested in funding a PhD, can apply for a Collaborative Studentship.
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