Social Work

A longitudinal evaluation of ThinkForward’s positive intervention strategies for secondary school students at risk of underachieving

  • School: Nottingham Institute of Education
  • Starting: 2018
  • Funding: UK student / EU student (non-UK) / International student (non-EU)


ThinkForward coaches the most disengaged from age 13 to succeed in education and progress into work. We work in 4 schools in north Nottingham, supporting around 160 young people through group and 1-1 sessions and world of work activities (schools are Bluecoat Beechdale, Bulwell Academy, Nottingham University Samworth Academy and Ellis Guilford). These schools have low historic educational attainment and progress.

ThinkForward have recently completed an internal evaluation of outcomes achieved by young people in three pilot schools, and are currently undertaking an internal quantitative study of outcomes across all participating schools relative to a matched comparison group.

ThinkForward works with a strong focus on student outcomes, looking to support young people towards the employment or further training, as well as the known stepping stones on the way to this including educational attainment, behaviour and attendance at school.

The purpose of this project is to undertake research on the process of the programme and to provide a framework for evaluation of the ThinkForward programme in order to:

  1. Establish the extent to which ThinkForward is being delivered with fidelity to the programme design;
  2. Analyse assumptions inherent in the programme design;
  3. Establish the efficacy of the programme activities in relation to research into wider activities such as mentoring, coaching and work related activities for young people.

Key questions

  1. Which elements of the ThinkForward programme do young people and potentially other stakeholders find most useful and potentially contributing to our successful outcomes?
  2. Is the quality of delivery of ThinkForward consistent with the programme standards, and wider standards of coaching, mentoring and group work?

Sources of data

We would expect elements of the following activities to be undertaken as part of the process evaluation:

  1. Review of programme materials
  2. Interviews and focus groups with:
    1. Young people – focusing on those in year 9 and year 10
    2. Coaches – including establishing the depth of their understanding of key programme materials
    3. School staff
    4. Parents
  3. Observations of elements of ThinkForward activities, especially the extent to which these are focused on achieving specific outcomes:
    1. 1-1 sessions
    2. Group work sessions
    3. Business mentoring
    4. Work experience
    5. Informal ‘check ups’ with young people

Note that some of these activities will involve visiting schools in the Nottingham area: the successful candidate will need to travel independently to research sites; there are good public transport services in the area.

The successful candidate will have an interest in education, be able to work independently and have the confidence to deal with a range of professionals, and the ability to relate well to young people. They will be interested in the causes and implications of structural disadvantage and how these might be addressed. They will need to be able to work across a number of disciplinary teams and must have well developed interpersonal skills. Some understanding of social science research skills, including ethical practice and work with vulnerable groups, is essential. It will be necessary to develop both quantitative and qualitative methods for this project, and competence with IT is essential.

The successful candidate will be able to demonstrate the following qualities:

  • Intellectual curiosity;
  • Capacity to take intellectual risks;
  • Ability to manage own time and plan workflow accordingly;
  • Ability to take initiative regarding next steps with work;
  • Ability to work in a self-directed way.


Dr Sheine Peart

Dr Chris Rolph

Dan Gray (ThinkForward)

Entry qualifications

To be eligible to apply, you must hold (or expect to obtain by 1st October 2018) a first or upper second class degree (or equivalent) in a related discipline. For applicants holding a 2.2 UK honours degree this must be supported by a Masters at “Merit” level (or equivalent as verified by UK Naric and the NTU International development Office) as an additional qualification.

How to apply

How to apply

Applications close at 5 pm on Monday 25 June 2018.

Download an application form here.
Please make sure you take a look at our application guidance notes before making your application.

Further information on how to apply can be found on this page.

Fees and funding

This is a self-funded studentship opportunity.

The successful candidate for this project will be awarded a bursary of £2000/year (dependent on progress) for 3 years by the project initiator, ThinkForward.

Guidance and support

Further information on guidance and support can be found on this page.

Still need help?

Sheine Peart
+44 (0)115 848 3086