From education to employment

New funding priorities for research, development and analysis grants

We have published new research funding priorities in our core domains of Education, Welfare and Justice, aligned with our mission to advance social well-being in today’s digitally-driven society. These are set out in full in our new Guide for applicants, and our next deadline for outline applications is September 2019.

The most significant change is in our Education domain, where a review of our work over the last decade has led to the development of four new themes: skills and capabilities; teaching quality; young people’s pathways; and educational disadvantage. In the past year, we have increased our annual grants budget form £6m to £8m, enabling us to fund more projects across all our domains in line with our ambitious five-year strategy.

We expect the research and development projects we fund to have the potential to influence social policy or the practice of the people who implement it. We have priorities within each of our domains, but we also seek to fund projects that cut across these domains or original proposals that align more broadly with our mission to advance social well-being.

We welcome applications from researchers working in a range of UK-based organisations including universities, research institutes, think tanks and charities. We are an open, collaborative and engaged funder and we work with our grant-holders to help make the most of their project and maximise the impact of the research we fund.

We are developing a new online application system, which will be available to applicants by September.

Research funding priorities
  • Skills and capabilities that equip children and young people for life and work, both within and beyond educational institutions.
  • Teaching quality, particularly projects that improve practice through evidence-based interventions and those that harness digital technologies to improve teaching and learning, parental engagement and child development.
  • Young people’s pathways, with an increased focus on young people following non-HE routes.
  • Educational disadvantage, including special educational needs, physical disabilities, mental health issues, socio-economic disadvantage, geographical disadvantage and looked after children.
  • Direct interventions that improve young people’s lives and align with the four priorities identified above and which are grounded in evidence.
  • Household and family dynamics, including trends in household composition, children’s well-being, the relationship between employment choices and tax, housing and welfare policies, and the impact of chronic illness, disability and mental ill health.
  • Causes of labour market, economic and social outcomes and how these relate to living standards and individual and collective well-being.
  • Digital and other technologies, including how they alleviate, exacerbate and shift vulnerability, and affect concepts of trust, evidence and authority.
  • Intergenerational issues and welfare later in life, such as how social and economic outcomes are changing within and between generations and the determinants of inequalities in later life.
  • Geographical inequalities, including how location, neighbourhoods and communities can shape people’s lives and their vulnerability to risk.
  • Family justice, and wider links with child welfare both in public and private law.
  • Youth justice, particularly the factors that lead to young people encountering the justice system and interventions that might prevent this.
  • Good early decision-making, particularly exploration of the incentives and structures that might encourage such decision-making while enabling access to justice where needed.
  • Participation and rights, particularly the accessibility of the legal system for those who are vulnerable and those who lack legal representation.

This is a summary of our funding priorities. For full details, please see our Guide for applicants. We will consider applications for up to £500,000, although most grants we award are between £50,000 and £300,000. In exceptional cases we will consider applications for amounts over £500,000.

In addition to our research and development grants in Education, Welfare and Justice, we will launch a separate call for applications to our Strategic Fund in late 2019 or early 2020.

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