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Introducing the Parent Zone Research Partner Network

At Parent Zone, our mission is to improve outcomes for children in the connected world. 

We work with the whole spectrum of organisations and professionals providing services, information and help to families, children and young people. 

As digital family life evolves, affecting different families in different ways, it is key for us to constantly evaluate what we do, how we work and who we are reaching. 

With this in mind, we build in opportunities for review and challenge across all of our daily work.

But we also have particular projects that help us focus on specific areas of need, challenge our assumptions and test out concepts and partnerships.

Working together to identify emerging challenges – and solutions

Our research partner network gathers together a diverse range of delivery organisations with academics and Parent Zone’s own research, creative and digital teams, to explore ways of building different organisations’ capacity so that they can better support families in a digital context.

Working closely with each delivery partner, we identify an existing or emerging challenge that impacts their community directly – or the organisation’s ability to serve them as needed. 

We then explore how we might meet this challenge, through adapting and testing existing Parent Zone products, carrying out further research and developing new solutions. 

Whilst the Network primarily aims to deliver small-scale projects that can be mainstreamed if they are relevant, it also enables organisations to learn from each other and build relationships for longer-term collaboration that will benefit families and children. 

Academic associates

We are accompanied in this exploration by academics from a range of disciplines who have an interest in the impact that digital experiences have on children and families. 

Our academic associates help link our explorations with wider evidence and context, as well as identifying opportunities to pursue more robust research.

Join a growing circle of collaborators

The Research Partner Network is a rolling programme with new partners welcome to join at any time. In the first round, we are fortunate to be working with a fantastic range of delivery organisations on challenges that will have a specific impact on their communities – as well as produce relevant learning for many others.

Here are our current network partners and the key challenges we will be working with them on. Over the next few months, we will design, test and review responses to each challenge and share our learning.

Family support

“We want to improve our understanding of the digital lives of families in our community who are facing disadvantages, so that we can better tailor support for developing parent and carer digital skills, access and resilience. 

“Through more tailored support for families, we hope to improve the digital resilience and opportunities for the children and young people we teach.”

Richard Bottomley
Head of Centre, Jesse Street Centre, Bradford AP Academy Central


Criminal exploitation

“We want to help schools and parents understand how online games and social media are sometimes used to recruit and exploit children for criminal purposes (county lines) - whilst ensuring children and families can still benefit from the positive opportunities that digital provides. 

“We will explore new ways of working in collaboration with Parent Zone to co-create practical, evidence-based information and support  resources that will meet this challenge and help us support our community more effectively.”

PC Paul Eastes
Neighbourhood Youth Officer, Hastings, East Sussex Division


Interactive learning resources

“Play and context are critical for embedding learning. We want to gain a deeper understanding of how interactive, narrative resources might help children to better understand risks, know what to do if they are concerned and apply learning in different real life scenarios. 

“We hope to widen opportunities to apply and embed learning through cross-curriculum experiences, safe online interaction and play. We also hope to explore and assess if these kinds of resources can bridge the gap between formal and informal learning across their wider digital lives.”

Dave Presky
Head of Computing, York House School


Opportunities for disabled young people

“Young disabled people are three times more likely to have no qualifications than non-disabled people and 18% of disabled people have never used the internet. The pandemic has highlighted that those with a disability experience further isolation through lack of access, skills, confidence or support to go online.

Leonard Cheshire supports individuals to Live, Learn and Work as independently as they choose whatever their ability. We want to explore ways we can enhance the digital resilience of the young people we work with and how we might engage and support their families in this process.” 

Michelle Impanni​
Senior Community Coordinator, Leonard Cheshire


Academic Associates

Parent Zone’s Research Partner Network aims to bridge the gap between delivery organisations and researchers – so that we can build a shared understanding of strengths and needs and identify new areas for collaboration. Our current academic associates are:

  • Dr Elvira Bolat, Bournemouth University Business School
  • Dr Constantina Panourgia, Bournemouth University
  • Dr Simon Hammond, University of East Anglia

Get involved

If you would like to join the Parent Zone Research Partner Network, want to find out more about the challenges or are interested in helping us in any other way, please contact cliff@parentzone.org.uk