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The Investigative Project

It focuses on informal family learning in urban disadvantaged communities experiencing austerity in England and Portugal.


Poor families with young children are harder hit than any other group by austerity policies. Informal family learning in community spaces contributes to development of young citizens, for character building, positive learning dispositions and executive learning functions, influencing successful school outcomes.


This connection between school outcomes and informal learning in urban environments is vital, under-researched and relevant to many urban communities experiencing austerity.


We will map the impact of austerity in English and Portuguese disadvantaged urban communities, documenting changing levels of availability/access to what were, historically, public, free, cultural/leisure services on which poor families depend for stimulation and extension of family learning, including libraries, parks, playgrounds, youth clubs and museums.


The project aims to enhance family and informal learning for disadvantaged children before entry to school, generating learning with international relevance.


The proposed project falls under the theme ‘Urban Futures’.


It aims to consider how disadvantaged young children and families have experienced the impact of austerity on their local community spaces/places where informal and family learning takes place and explores innovative, community led practices which have kept such leisure and recreational spaces alive and thriving. 


We will collaborate with researchers and practitioners who work across the social sciences and humanities in two European countries as exemplars of this phenomenon, with particular focus on the role and impact of community cultural artists in extending family and informal learning opportunities within urban community spaces. 


The project is international in scope looking at the impact of austerity and responses to it within disadvantaged communities in northern and southern Europe, exploring saliences across the two countries, with a view to wider transfer of the knowledge generated. 


The project aims to deliver specific academic, public, cultural and policy-relevant outputs.

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