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Engaging low-income families in education research

COVID-19 disrupted education provision around the globe. Socio-economically disadvantaged families of young children experienced exacerbated structural inequality including challenges with space and resources to continue education in the home. But recruiting these participants to share their experiences proved deeply problematic. This research focuses on how to engage and work with socio-economically disadvantaged parents/caregivers of young children (0-11, UK, 0-12/13 China) in education research, through an interdisciplinary lens.

COVID-19 disrupted education provision around the globe. Socio-economically disadvantaged families of young children experienced exacerbated structural inequality including challenges with space and resources to continue education in the home. But recruiting these participants to share their experiences proved problematic.

This pilot study aims to address this problem by listening to and understanding the needs of these participants to develop a best practice approach that can be applied to interdisciplinary social and education research.

The following research questions will be addressed:

  • What are the unique barriers, challenges and issues impacting on socio-economically disadvantaged parents’/caregivers' participation in education research?
  • How do culture, social class, gender and ethnicity influence these challenges?
  • What would support, encourage and enable socio-economically disadvantaged parents/caregivers to take part in education research?

This project adopts a comparative lens to understand the dynamics of participation in education research, as situated in different socio-cultural and political contexts. Such an approach benefits a more nuanced understanding of the challenges and issues faced by parents/ carers from diverse groups. This project’s USP is to provide understanding and practical strategies to engage low-income families in education research to improve the representativeness of findings and recommendations made, thereby enhancing research impact on large scale projects.

This pilot study will provide academic and social impact through

  • informing and transforming approaches to recruiting underrepresented and socially marginalised groups. Although the difficulties in engaging these groups have been acknowledged, no studies to our knowledge have specifically investigated this issue from the participants’ perspectives. By listening to and understanding their needs, the aim is to develop a best practice approach that can be applied to and adapted in interdisciplinary education research.
  • exploring how being involved in research can have the potential to positively influence this group of parents/caregivers.
  • ‘knocking on the door’ to involve children as co-researchers and co-constructors of knowledge, as we acknowledge that their parents/caregivers are usually the gatekeepers.

Meet the Principal Investigator(s) for the project


Partnering with confidence

Organisations interested in our research can partner with us with confidence backed by an external and independent benchmark: The Knowledge Exchange Framework. Read more.


Project last modified 20/04/2022