The interdisciplinary project will explore ‘transitions’ of young people with learning disabilities to adulthood in Greater Manchester. The participatory study will build on previous research (Big Society? Disabled people with learning disabilities and civil society, ESRC funded) and will enhance pathways to impact for the impact narrative allied to this research.
Project aims and objectives
The Children and Family Act (2014), which followed the publication of Support and Aspiration: a new approach to special educational needs and disability (DfE, 2011), was intended to improve transitions for young people with learning disabilities into adulthood. The introduction of Education, Health and Care Plans, that document children and young people’s support needs from birth to 25, were specifically designed to end the so-called ‘cliff edge’ that had been identified for young people with learning disabilities who found themselves transitioning to adulthood often without adequate services and support.
The transition to Education, Health and Care plans in Greater Manchester is still on going and the impact of the changes as a result of the Children and Families Act are unknown. However, research suggests (Hatton, 2015) that many young people who have been identified with Special Educational Needs are still lost in transition to adult services. Thresholds for accessing adult social care, following the Care Act, 2014, are rising and the Devolution Manchester agenda will also result in a huge shake up in the way that education, health and social care are delivered. This timely research will explore the following objectives:
- To explore the social construction of ‘learning disability’ and ‘adulthood’ in the lives of young people in transition;
- To explore the policy and cultural contexts of transitions for young people with learning disabilities in the context of devolution Greater Manchester;
- To understand the nature of the support that young people with learning disabilities receive in transition;
- To explore examples of ‘good practice’ in transition in Greater Manchester;
- To develop an evidence base to inform policy and practice in Greater Manchester, regionally and nationally, in relation to transition for young people with learning disabilities.
The objectives will be met through the following research phases
- Review of literature on ‘learning disability’, ‘adulthood’, ‘transition’ and ‘devolution’ Greater Manchester (Aim 1 & 2)
- To work in coproduction with young people with learning disabilities, their families and allies to understand their experiences of transition. (We envisage that research will draw on range of multi-media methods to work collaboratively with a diverse range of young people) (Aims 3 & 4)
- Analysis (Aim 5)
- Dissemination & impact generation activities, including policy focused summary cards and briefing papers. (Aim 5)
The proposed project builds on existing research within The Research Centre for Social Change: Community Wellbeing and offers pathways to impact from the Research Centre.
This application has the support of Manchester People’s First, an advocacy organization led by people with learning disabilities in Manchester and Breakthrough UK, a disabled people led organization in Manchester.
The research team will work with the student to co-author high quality journal articles (REF 2020).
The research team is led by Katherine Runswick-Cole, an experienced disability researcher, supported by Sue Caton, an established researcher and PhD supervisor with a PhD in transitions for young people with learning disabilities (completed 2003), and Leanne Rimmer, a new member of the Psychology staff at MMU who has an interest in housing and wellbeing. The supervisory team exceeds the requirements for completions at MMU.
Specific requirements of the project
- Good honours degree (or equivalent) in social care, psychology, sociology, disability studies, education or related discipline
- Masters level qualification or equivalent professional experience
- Proven record of strong organisational skills
- Excellent written and verbal communication skills
- Good team working skills
- Good interpersonal skills and strong negotiating skills
- Good IT skills
- Evidence of ability to work collaboratively and to work on own initiative
- High level of motivation
Knowledge & Experience
- Genuine desire to pursue PhD study and to develop their skills as a researcher
- Knowledge and understanding of the challenges facing young people with learning disabilities in transition to adulthood
- Knowledge and understanding of qualitative and quantitative research methods
- Experience of paid and/or voluntary work alongside people with learning disabilities
- Developing knowledge and understanding of disability studies
- Developing knowledge and understanding of the Devolution Greater Manchester context
- Developing knowledge and understanding of participatory and multi-media research methods
- Developing knowledge of public engagement activities and pathways to impact
UK, EU and international students