ESRC Postdoctoral Fellow
Dr Robin Dallas-Childs
University of Dundee
My fellowship activity builds on findings from my PhD thesis. In this I explored the experiences of young people who have spent time in residential schools and residential child care (RCC) in Scotland, particularly in relation to their developing identities and senses of self. I am interested in the types of relationships, environments and practices that support the development of identities and coherent senses of self amongst care experienced people and the agency of young people in this process. I draw largely on sociological and philosophical literature, reflecting the contention that who children are and how to bring them up are broadly philosophical questions. In taking this approach, my research offers a contrast to psychological and treatment paradigms that are prevalent in the RCC sector. I am interested in how philosophical thinking might further contribute to the theorisation of child social care research and practice.
Goals for the fellowship:
The fellowship will enable me to disseminate findings from my thesis, with the central aim to maximise impact within education and social work academic discourse, RCC policy and practice. I will publish a number of journal articles highlighting the empirical and theoretical contributions of my research. I will continue to build my networks within the education and RCC sectors to share findings and deliver training with staff and volunteers working with care experienced young people, in Scotland and internationally. An online blog and participation in podcasts will further extend the audience to the wider care sector and general public, reflecting the role of the outside world in shifting the often negative perceptions of young people in care. To this end, I will collaborate with care experienced young people to develop a guidance toolkit that helps schools to create cultures that support RCC experienced young people. At a policy level, I will develop links with and create briefs for the governmental departments and NGOs responsible for Scotland’s evolving policy direction for children and families.
Advice for future applicants:
In your proposal, focus on the potential impact of your thesis findings at a research, policy and practice level and spell out at each stage how you will be achieving this. Consider how your research stands out, contrasts with and adds to existing knowledge. Again, make this very clear to an audience who are unlikely to be familiar with your area of study. Ask your institution for copies of previously successful ESRC fellowship applications and review these alongside your own. These don’t necessarily need to be close to your area of research but is very helpful to double check your understanding of what is being asked for at each stage. Finally, have one or two others with knowledge of your research area to read through your application, for example, your PhD supervisor and prospective ESRC mentor.