Today’s children are growing up in tough times. Children’s services are under serious pressure, mental health problems are increasingly common, and COVID has disrupted childhoods across the UK. One group of children particularly affected are those with special educational needs and disability (SEND). For them, travelling independently could unlock the door to social activities, employment or education, help combat social isolation, and ultimately enable an economically active and fulfilling life.
Current home to school transport services can be detrimental to the environment and contribute to local authorities’ budget pressures. Where appropriate, if children and young people could switch to greener, healthier, and more sustainable modes of transport (e.g., public transport or walking), there may be benefits to all. This project, the first of its kind, will evaluate whether behavioural science informed independent travel training can support these goals.
This innovative and exciting project will use mixed methods (including an RCT in UK schools) to evaluate the impact of a behavioural science informed independent travel training programme (for SEND children, 11-16 years old) in four dimensions:
1. Progress towards independent travel
2. School attendance, behaviour, and attainment
3. Non-cognitive skills, behavioural and psychological measures
4. Broader impacts
A comprehensive training package will be delivered by supervisors at UEA and Norfolk County Council (NCC). Training opportunities include:
· On the job training interacting with senior policymakers at NCC
· Being embedded in NCC’s Transformation Community, training in methods and approaches to transformation in local government
Applicants will have 2:1 in an undergraduate and Master’s degrees (successful candidates are normally expected to achieve 60% or above in a Master’s degree) in Economics or similar, and excellent interpersonal skills. Experience of working with vulnerable groups, children or adults with disabilities, would be valuable. This PhD would particularly suit someone with an interest in a local government and policymaking career.
Applications are required to both UEA (for the PhD) and SeNSS (for the funding).