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Developing and evaluating a community-based intervention to promote shared book reading and library use at the transition into primary school


Key facts

Type of research degree
Application deadline
Friday 30 June 2023
Project start date
Sunday 1 October 2023
Country eligibility
UK only
Source of funding
University of Leeds
Dr Paula Clarke and Dr Hannah Nash
School of Psychology
<h2 class="heading hide-accessible">Summary</h2>

This fully funded PhD place provides an exciting opportunity to pursue postgraduate research working in partnership with Leeds libraries and local education providers to develop and evaluate a shared book reading intervention for young children in the summer before they start primary school.<br /> <br /> We invite applications from prospective postgraduate researchers who wish to commence study for a PhD in the academic year 2023/24 for the Reception Reading Stars Thomas Ward Scholarship.<br /> <br /> The award is open to full-time or part-time candidates (UK only) who meet the eligibility criteria for a place on a PhD degree in the School of Psychology. <br />

<h2 class="heading hide-accessible">Full description</h2>

<p>This project offers an exciting opportunity to work on a project with impact at its core. One in four children leave primary school in England unable to read to the required standard, which has significant implications for their future educational attainment and job prospects. &nbsp;Addressing this societal challenge will require early intervention, ideally via concerted efforts between those involved in preschool care and education. Our local partnership with the Leeds library service originated from a UKRI funded project (<a href="">ICKLE</a>) which demonstrated the impact of COVID-19 school disruption on young children who had just started school. Our findings highlighted the provision of hard-copy books as a key predictor of young children&rsquo;s progress in learning to read. &nbsp;This led us to consider the pivotal role of libraries in children&rsquo;s early literacy development, and to connect with the library service via Leeds City Council.&nbsp;</p> <p>This project is interdisciplinary, spanning two faculties (<a href="">School of Psychology</a> &amp; <a href="">School of Education</a>) and the intervention itself will be co-designed with the library service. &nbsp;The approach is novel in that it is truly community based, connecting families, nurseries, schools and libraries, therefore we predict that it is likely to be more sustainable and have a greater impact on children&rsquo;s lives than researcher-led interventions delivered in single settings. The aim is to increase young children&rsquo;s exposure to storybooks and shared reading, ultimately enriching the home literacy environment and positively influencing literacy development. &nbsp;</p> <p>The project will begin with an evaluation of the data from the 2023 delivery of the current Reception Reading Stars intervention (involving children from 4-8 settings across Leeds). Following this will be a phase of co-design to optimise the content and the delivery model of the intervention for use in 2024. Then the feasibility, acceptability,&nbsp;and immediate impacts (on library engagement and the home literacy environment) of the 2024 version of the intervention will be assessed using mixed methods approaches. The supervisory team for this project comprises Dr Hannah Nash, Dr Paula Clarke and Rachel Ingle-Teare. Hannah, who is based in Psychology and is an expert in early reading development, will provide guidance on the current literature concerning early intervention and the role of shared reading and supervise the PhD student on a day-to-day basis. Paula, based in Education, is an expert in reading intervention, and will advise the PhD student on the design and evaluation of feasibility and acceptability studies. Rachel is a Librarian at Leeds Central Library, specialising in children&rsquo;s literacy. She will provide information about the Reception Reading Stars and will work with the PhD student to oversee its delivery and evaluate its impact.</p> <h4>Information about the Award</h4> <ul> <li>We are offering a full-time or part-time PhD scholarship in the School of Psychology for one UK candidate, covering a maintenance grant matching UKRI maintenance stipend of &pound;18,622 for the 2023/24 academic year (pro-rata for part time study) and UK tuition fees for three years (full-time) or five years (part-time), subject to satisfactory progress.&nbsp;</li> </ul> <h4>Duration of the Award</h4> <ul> <li>Full-time (3 years) or Part-time (5 years). The award will be made for one year (full-time) or two years (part-time) in the first instance and renewable for a further period of up to two years (full-time) or three years (part-time), subject to satisfactory academic progress.</li> </ul> <h4>Other Conditions</h4> <ul> <li>Applicants must not have already been awarded or be currently studying for a doctoral degree.</li> <li>Awards must be taken up by 1st January 2024.</li> <li>Applicants must live within a reasonable distance of the University of Leeds whilst in receipt of this scholarship.</li> </ul>

<h2 class="heading">How to apply</h2>

<p>We would recommend you contacting the supervision team for this project prior to submitting a formal application. To apply for this scholarship opportunity applicants should complete an <a href="">online application form</a> and attach the following documentation to support their application.&nbsp;</p> <ul> <li>a full academic CV</li> <li>degree certificate and transcripts of marks</li> <li>Evidence that you meet the University&#39;s minimum English language requirements (if applicable)</li> </ul> <p>To help us identify that you are applying for this scholarship project please ensure you provide the following information on your application form;</p> <ul> <li>Select PhD in Psychological Sciences as your programme of study</li> <li>Give the full project title and name the supervisors listed in this advert</li> <li>For source of funding please state you are applying for a Thomas Ward Scholarship</li> </ul> <p>If English is not your first language, you must provide evidence that you meet the University&#39;s minimum English language requirements (below).</p> <p><em>As an international research-intensive university, we welcome students from all walks of life and from across the world. We foster an inclusive environment where all can flourish and prosper, and we are proud of our strong commitment to student education. Across all Faculties we are dedicated to diversifying our community and we welcome the unique contributions that individuals can bring, and particularly encourage applications from, but not limited to Black, Asian, people who belong to a minority ethnic community, people who identify as LGBT+ and people with disabilities. Applicants will always be selected based on merit and ability.</em></p>

<h2 class="heading heading--sm">Entry requirements</h2>

Applicants to this scholarship in the School of Psychology should normally have an Undergraduate degree of 2:1 or above (or international equivalent) in a relevant subject area. A Master&rsquo;s degree is desirable, but not essential. Applicants who are uncertain about the requirements for a particular research degree are advised to contact the School or Admissions Team prior to making an application.

<h2 class="heading heading--sm">English language requirements</h2>

Applicants whose first language is not English must provide evidence that their English language is sufficient to meet the specific demands of their study. The Faculty of Medicine and Health minimum requirements in IELTS and TOEFL tests for PhD, MSc, MPhil, MD are: &bull; British Council IELTS - score of 6.5 overall, with no element less than 6.0 &bull; TOEFL iBT - overall score of 92 with the listening and reading element no less than 21, writing element no less than 22 and the speaking element no less than 23.

<h2 class="heading">Funding on offer</h2>

<p>The Thomas Ward Scholarship will attract an annual tax-free stipend of &pound;18,622 each year for up to 3 years subject to satisfactory progress. Academic fees will also be paid at the UK fee rate. Due to limited funding we can only consider applicants for this position who are eligible for UK fee status. The start date for this award is 1 October 2023, although there will be flexibility for the right candidate.</p>

<h2 class="heading">Contact details</h2>

<p>We encourage applicant to contact the supervisor(s) for informal discussion about the suitability of the project before applying to the University</p> <p>Dr Hannah Nash&nbsp; e.&nbsp;<a href=""></a></p> <p>For further information about the application process please contact the Admissions team<br /> e:&nbsp;<a href=""></a></p>