The Research Unit for Trans-professionalism in the Public Services

The Research Unit for Trans-Professionalism in Public Services has since 2009 been instrumental in attracting over £1.4 million in external funding including a multi partner European Union Framework 7 project, a DfE  Booktrust project and an ESRC Project led by Professor Rob Hulme. The research unit features collaborations with Professor Dean Garratt , Dr Jane McKay, Professor David Cracknell and Professor Allan Owens on a variety of programmes in national and international contexts with a focus on developing knowledge across professional and disciplinary boundaries. The Unit offers leadership to an international network of scholars, with a focus on multi professional work, through the AERA. Conferences including hosting the North of England Education Conference in 2009 (a conference attended by the Secretary of State for Education).

What we aim to do

The units' work deployed education and social policy research, at the University of Chester, on the professional education of teachers, social workers, health workers and sports coaches. Our work has had effects on policy and decision making at strategic and operational levels on the management of inter-professional working in a variety of public service settings.  Research in this interdisciplinary field has given rise to and is supported by ESRC funded projects and HEIF Knowledge transfer funding in association with partners in local government, the voluntary sector, public service management agencies (such as the Cheshire Fire and rescue Service) and collaborations with research partners in other universities in the UK, Europe, North America and the Middle East.

Recent Achievements

Some highlights of our recent work include work which has impacted on decision making in local authorities. This has ranged from assisting local authorities and associated agencies in developing approaches to constructing and maintaining multi-disciplinary teams to respond to the requirements of ECM or to cultivate new ways of working for teachers, sports coaches or firefighters. As such, it has offered a perspective for decision makers in areas where there is a lack of precedent. Developing new ways of working in environments external to the authority can help to save time and money and to break down blockages and delays in embedding policy.

Decision Making in Local Authorities

Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service - The research team’s  partnership work with Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service and a series of HEIF Knowledge Transfer projects, totalling £80,000 between 2008 and 2013, was instrumental in the University of Chester’s invitation to be involved in the EU Framework 7 FP7 Population Alert Project. The project, involving 8 European partners, will commit £1.4 million over three years to investigate inter-professional and inter-cultural responses to major crises. CFRS have seconded a Senior Research and Development Officer to work collaboratively with unit colleagues in developing the research and embedding its outcomes in a review of management systems.

Developing Knowledge for Policy Implementation on Multi-professional Working

The work of Hulme and Cracknell was instrumental in the University of Chester hosting the North of England Education Conference in 2009, which was addressed by the then Secretary of State for Children Families and Schools, Ed Balls. The conference featured master classes in decision making for Directors of Children’s Services.

ESRC HEIF KT funded projects workshops on developing policy responses for multi professional working in 2011/12, addressed by Maggie Atkinson, Children’s Commissioner for England and Professor Helen Gunter, University of Manchester. The Commissioner acknowledged the importance of our event in the co-constructed knowledge in preparing the children’s workforce.

The Unit’s work with local authorities attracted a workshop within the ESRC Area Based Initiatives. Addressed by Professors Mel Ainscow and Alan Dyson, Manchester, the focal point was the co-ordination of local authority and agency work in developing effective urban policy. Furthermore, working with the DfE/ Booktrust to evaluate the impact of books on reading in the early years. A £25.000 grant was won to complete this work.

Professional Training / CPD

A further area of significant impact is on professional training, particularly where there is a need to enhance professional knowledge. Focused on working across boundaries, this includes work on safeguarding is responding to significant areas of policy change. The work of the team has impacted on the structure and content of training for teachers and social workers at the University via the following events/ research trajectories:

  • The shape and direction of Education research. A BERA sponsored conference will take place in June 2014 featuring internationally recognised contributors on the relationship between research and partnership in education.
  • Learn Together Partnership 2008-9 with Wirral MBC, featuring collaboratively designed training for multi-professional leaders in building multi-professional teams.
  • Two ESRC TERN funded workshops, in 2009 and 2010, on embedding multi-professional working in teacher education. These featured contributions from Michael Eraut, Jean Murray and others. The latter featured work developed by Hulme in conjunction with teacher educators at the University of Chester. This work influenced the shape of research training in post graduate teacher education at Chester
  •  A further two ESRC HEIF 2012 and March 2013 funded workshops on Multi –disciplinary work with children and Young People – with a focus on hybridity in coaching and mentoring  roles in training in teacher education and social work were addressed by Prof Nick Frost and Professor Marion Jones. The outcomes of these workshops ‘Looking Beneath the Surface’ – A Multi-Professional Safeguarding Conference in 2013 to provide opportunities for delegates to explore inter-disciplinary/inter-professional practice.

Indicative publications

Garratt, D., Piper, H. and Taylor, B, (2013) ‘Safeguarding’ sports coaching: Foucault, genealogy and critique’. Sport, Education and Society, early view, 18 (5), 615-629.

Hulme, M, Thomson, A., Hulme, R. & Doughty, G (June 2013) Trading Places: the role of agents in recruiting students from Africa  Journal of Further and Higher Education

Hulse B and Hulme R. (2012) The Impact of Engagement with Research for Masters level study on PGCE Foreign Languages Students. Journal of Education Action Research Volume 20, Issue 2, June 2012, pages 313-329

Hulme, R and Hulme M. (2012) Policy learning? Crisis and‘re-invention’ in the making of social policy. Politics and Policy ISSN 0305-5736 

Hulme, R and Hulme, M. (2011).The Policy Context of Citizenship Education in Arthur, J. and Cremin, H. (Eds) Debates in Citizenship Education. London: Routledge

Hulme, R. Cracknell, D and Owens, (2009) A Learning in third spaces: developing trans-professional understanding though practitioner enquiry, Educational Action Research 17:4, 537-550

Hulme, R. McKay, J and Cracknell, D. (2013) From commissar to auctioneer? The changing role of Directors managing children’s services in a period of austerity, Education Management, Administration and Leadership DOI: 10.1177/1741143213494886

McKay, J. & Garratt, D. (2013). Participation as Governmentality? The effect of disciplinary technologies at the interface of service users and providers, families and the State. Journal of Educational Policy, view ahead of print, DOI:10.1080/02680939.2012.752869

Piper, H., Garratt, D. and Taylor, B. (2013) ‘Child abuse, child protection, and defensive ‘touch’ in PE teaching and sports’ coaching ’, Sport, Education and Society, 18 (5), 583-598.