Research Fellow Ref 6020

School/department: School of Education and Social Work, Department of Education
Hours: Part time hours considered up to a maximum of 0.8 FTE per week.  Requests for flexible working options will be considered (subject to business need). 
Contract: Fixed term for 4 years
Reference: 6020
Salary: starting at £34,304 and rising to £40,927 annum, pro rata 
Placed on: 07 December 2021
Closing date:  14 January 2022.  Applications must be received by midnight of the closing date.
Expected Interview date: TBC
Expected start date: As soon as possible

Job description

The Department of Education, within the School of Education and Social Work, has been awarded with its partners the contract for the national evaluation of A Better Start. To support this work, we seek to appoint a 0.8 FTE Research Fellow to conduct qualitative research.

A Better Start (ABS) is a ten-year (2015-2025), £215 million programme funded by The National Lottery Community Fund (TNLCF), delivered by local partnerships in five areas in England: Blackpool, Bradford, Lambeth, Nottingham and Southend-On-Sea. The programme aims to deliver a place-based approach, changing the ways in which services are delivered and working in partnership with parents to improve the life chances of babies and young children, in relation to four key outcome domains:

  1. improving children’s diet and nutrition;
  2. supporting children to develop social and emotional skills;
  3. helping children develop their language and communication skills; and
  4. bringing about ‘systems change’.

The national evaluation of ABS is being conducted by a consortium partnership led by NatCen Social Research, working with the University of Sussex, Research in Practice (RiP), the National Children’s Bureau (NCB) and RSM Partners. The consortium is built upon longstanding working relationships and brings together internationally recognised expertise in three domains:

• cutting-edge methodological expertise, including large, complex ‘real world’ evaluations of interventions into family lives over time, combining quantitative and qualitative methodologies

• interdisciplinary perspectives on early childhood, spanning developmental psychology (for example, early language and communication and socio-emotional development); childhood and family studies; education; economics; and public health

• practice-near interprofessional expertise in policy and provision for children and families spanning primary care and public health, early childhood education and care, child and family welfare, family support and children’s social care and schools.

Overall, the national evaluation aims to address four specific objectives:

  1. identify the contribution made by the ABS programme to the life chances of children who have received ABS interventions
  2. identify the factors that contribute to improving diet and nutrition, social and emotional skills and language and communication skills through the suite of interventions, both targeted and universal, selected by ABS sites
  3. evidence, through collective journey mapping, the experiences of families from diverse backgrounds through ABS systems
  4. evidence the contribution the ABS programme has made to reducing costs to the public purse relating to primary school aged children

The five ABS sites also have local evaluators, and our national, programme level evaluation is distinct from that work.  The national evaluation work has been divided into two phases: an initial feasibility study which is now complete, and the main Phase 2 evaluation. The successful applicant will be involved in Phase 2, working as part of the overall evaluation team, within Sussex and across the consortium. The Sussex team leads Objective 3 and contributes to work on all other objectives. Work at Sussex is led by Professor Janet Boddy and Professor Gillian Hampden-Thompson, and involves researchers from Education, Psychology and Brighton and Sussex Medical School, and within Sussex is aligned with the Centre for Innovation and Research in Childhood and Youth. The Research Fellow will play a key role in the national evaluation, conducting qualitative longitudinal research with families who work with ABS and contributing to systems-level qualitative research with professional stakeholders. The successful applicant will work and develop research relationships with colleagues across the consortium – spanning multiple disciplines. Specific responsibilities include conducting interviews with families (parents/carers and children) and professional stakeholders, and contributing to literature reviews, analysis and writing at all stages of the project.

The University of Sussex values the diversity of its staff and students and we welcome applicants from all backgrounds.

You can find out more about our values and our EDI Strategy,  Inclusive Sussex, on our webpages.

Download the full job description and person specification (reference number 6020) (PDF 148.05KB)

The University requires that work undertaken for the University is performed from the UK. 

Visa Sponsorship Queries:

This role has been assigned an eligible SOC code however to meet the minimum salary requirement this is dependent on the salary you are offered and/or whether you are eligible for tradeable points. If you require visa sponsorship from the University of Sussex to undertake this role please consult our Skilled Worker Visa information page for further information. If you want further advice on sponsorship eligibility please contact


How to apply

Download our academic application form [DOC 199.50KB] and Personal Details and Equal Opportunities Form [DOC 119.50KB] and fill in all sections.

Email your completed application, and personal details and equal opportunities form, to  

You should attach your application form and all documents to the email in PDF format (we are unable to accept applications as or .pages) and use the format job reference number / job title / your name in the subject line.

You can also send your application by post to Human Resources Division, Sussex House, University of Sussex, Falmer, Brighton, BN1 9RH.

Download our terms and conditions summary for Research faculty [PDF 11.39KB]

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