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Sustainable Approaches to Violence Prevention in Schools: an Analysis of the Long Term Influence of a Programme in Uganda

Principal Supervisor: Jenny Parkes (UCL Institute of Education)

Co-Supervisor: Karen Devries (LSHTM)

Reviews of work on violence prevention in schools have critiqued the effectiveness and sustainability of interventions that are not deeply embedded within local contexts, integrated with education polices and plans, or that fail to address the roots of violence in structural inequalities and norms. Few studies have looked in depth at the processes which sustain change.

This studentship builds on existing research carried out by the supervisors in collaboration with Raising Voices, a Ugandan NGO which has implemented an intervention known as the Good School Toolkit, a whole school approach to reducing corporal punishment. The PhD student will be joining a larger research programme concerned with understanding and strengthening approaches to challenging violence against children.  Our research to date has demonstrated the intervention's success in reducing violence, but questions remain about the mechanisms through which violence prevention in schools can most effectively be sustained over time. The PhD studentship will examine how and whether the effects of a grassroots intervention to prevent violence in schools are sustained over time following the end of an 18-month programme.

The objectives are to analyse the longer term influence of the Good Schools Toolkit on:

1.         classroom processes, including teachers’ disciplinary practices;
2.         school cultures and structures, including management, organisation and systems for support;
3.         girls’ and boys’ participation in school management and discipline processes;
4.         relationships in families and communities and how these influence school processes;
5.         policy enactment at district and national level.

It is anticipated that a qualitative case study approach will be used, and that data collection will include a period of fieldwork in Ugandan primary schools. There may in addition be opportunities for secondary analysis of quantitative data collected as part of our RCT. The research findings will generate recommendations about how to enhance the sustainability of development interventions on violence in schools.

Candidate requirements

The candidate is required to have an excellent academic track record, including an MA or MSc in a relevant area, and demonstrated interest and experience in education and international development. The studentship will entail a period of fieldwork in Uganda.  We welcome applications from all interested, qualified applicants.  Knowledge and experience of the Ugandan context, and previous work on violence against children are assets but not essential.

The PhD student will participate in the doctoral training programmes at IoE and LSHTM, and will in addition benefit from research exchange and training opportunities within the London International Development Centre (LIDC) and the Bloomsbury Gender Network (BGN).

Key references

  • Devries, K., Child, J., Allen, E., Walakira, E., Parkes, J. and Naker, D. (2013) School violence, mental health and educational performance in Ugandan primary school children. Pediatrics published online: Dec. 2013 doi: 10.1542/peds.2013-0001.
  • Leach, F., Dunne, M. and Salvi, F. (2014), School-Related Gender-Based Violence: A global review of current issues and approaches in policy, programming and implementation responses to School-Related Gender-Based Violence (SRGBV) for the Education Sector. Paris: UNESCO Education Sector.
  • Parkes, J., Heslop, J., Oando, S., Sabaa, S., Januario, F. and Figue, A. (2013) Conceptualizing gender and violence in research: insights from studies in schools and communities in Kenya, Ghana and Mozambique. International Journal of Educational Development. 33, 6, 546-556
  • Parkes, J. (Forthcoming March 2015) (ed) Gender Violence in Poverty Contexts: the Educational Challenge. Routledge.

Further details about the project may be obtained from:

Principal supervisor: Jenny Parkes,
Co-supervisor: Karen Devries,
Availability of the studentship
This studentship is available to students who pay tuition fees at Home/EU levels as well as to international students. It will begin in October 2015 and will normally cover three years of full-time registration.
Admissions requirements
The normal minimum requirement is an upper second-class honours degree (or equivalent) in a relevant discipline. A Masters in a relevant discipline is preferable.
If English is not your first language, you will need an IELTS score of 7.0, with scores of no lower than 7.0 in the reading and writing elements of the test.
Application forms and details about how to apply are available from Alison Freeman, Bloomsbury DTC Co-ordinator, Doctoral School, Institute of Education
How to apply
Candidates are required to submit the following to Alison Freeman via email ( by 16:00 on Friday 13 March 2015:
  • Bloomsbury Colleges PhD Studentships Application Form
  • A personal statement indicating how your qualifications, experience and research interests make you a suitable candidate for this studentship.
  • Transcripts of your undergraduate and (where applicable) postgraduate qualifications.
  • Two confidential references.
  • A piece of academic writing, such as an essay, dissertation or article.

The closing date for applications is 16:00 on Friday 13 March 2015.