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Community engagement

Researchers at WELS work hand in hand with communities to co-produce research that empowers and enables those communities. This is research with and for rather than on or about communities employing participatory and empowerment research approaches. In all of our research groups, community members play a leading role in setting research priorities, carrying out research, communicating findings and making sure research is heard where it can have the greatest impact.



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The Early Childhood Research group at The Open University engages in critical, practical and theoretical research and teaching to extend knowledge and understanding about early childhood education and care for children birth to seven years. Our research creates a space for critical reflection about values, beliefs and practical realities in early childhood including social justice, advocacy, the nature of high-quality experiences and children’s rights. It aims to challenge practice and policy through listening to different perspectives using a range of methods. We seek to make meaningful connections, both across the four nations of the UK and internationally, between communities of practice and knowledge exchange to support high quality experiences and services.

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The Contemporary Youth Cultures and Transitions Research Group

The Contemporary Youth Cultures and Transitions Research Group brings together academic researchers – working across and between the boundaries of criminology, human geography, psychology, sociology, and education studies – alongside practitioners and youth activists.

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The Reproduction, Sexualities and Sexual Health Research Group

The Reproduction, Sexualities and Sexual Health Research Group (RSSH) explores five key areas: reproductive control, HIV/AIDS, sexuality & disability, the experiences of lesbian, gay, bisexual & transgender (LGBT+) people and pregnancy & childbirth.

The Social History of Learning Disability Group

The Social History of Learning Disability Research Group (SHLD) researches and disseminates learning disability history in ways which are inclusive of people with learning disabilities, their carers, relatives and advocates.

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ArDdysg Teacher Education Research Group

The ArDdysg Teacher Education Research Group at the Open University focuses on supporting evidence-informed practice in teacher education and professional learning. It brings together researchers with a range of educational research interests and experience. The group welcome opportunities to work with partners in schools, universities and the third sector, across Wales and further afield.


The Black Women's Health and Wellbeing Research Network

The Black Women's Health and Wellbeing Research Network promotes the health and wellbeing of black women through research and knowledge exchange.

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The Carer Research and Knowledge Exchange Network

The Carer Research and Knowledge Exchange Network (CAREN) develops and provides knowledge exchange resources for all those across the globe who require any form of carer-related knowledge.

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The Critical Autism Network

The Critical Autism Network aims to develop a challenge to dominant understandings of autism as a neurological deficit, instead focusing on autism as an identity that is discursively produced within specific sociocultural contexts.

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Reading for Pleasure

The Teachers as Readers study (The Open University and UK Literacy Association) and other OU studies have established effective ways to support children's Reading for Pleasure (RfP). Based on the research, this consortium aims to support a vibrant professional community of teachers, student teachers, librarians and English leaders in order to nurture lifelong readers.