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Dr Phil Smith

Dr Phil Smith

Research Associate, CASCADE

+44 29208 79865
sbarc|spark, Maindy Road, Cathays, Cardiff, CF24 4HQ
Available for postgraduate supervision


I am a Research Associate in the Children’s Social Care Research and Development Centre (CASCADE), currently working on a Health and Care Research Wales (HCRW) funded fellowship. This research explores the post-16 transitions and destinations of care experienced young people in Wales, who have been referred out of a mainstream school and attend a pupil referral unit (PRU).

  • The project will involve working with a group of young people over three years, in order to learn more about the destinations they move into and their views and experiences of this transitional period. This part of the project will draw on a range of creative and ethnographic methods.
  • I will also interview relevant professionals about their roles and the processes involved in supporting these young people with their transitions.
  • Further work will be carried out within schools, about exclusion practices, specifically in relation to care experienced young people.
  • In addition, I will be working with The Secure Anonymised Information Linkage (SAIL) Databank team based at Swansea University, to learn more about the relationship between being care experienced PRU learners in Wales, and future destinations.

Prior to this fellowship I worked on a number of important research projects within CASCADE, including the Child Welfare and Inequalities Project (CWIP) and the Social Workers in Schools (SWIS) Trial.

My research interests mainly centre on the educational experiences and lives of young people and the roles and practices of the professionals who work with them. My background is in youth and community work and childhood studies and I have experience of using a range of qualitative research methods.


Education and Qualifications

  • PhD, Cardiff University
  • MSc Social Science Research Methods, Cardiff University
  • PGDip/MSc Youth and Community Work, Manchester Metropolitan University

Academic positions

2019 - present: Research Associate, CASCADE, School of Social Sciences, Cardiff University

2015-2018: Research Assistant, CASCADE, School of Social Sciences, Cardiff University

Committees and reviewing

  • Journal reviewer, British Educational Research Journal
  • Journal reviewer, International Journal  of Educational and Life Transitions
  • Journal reviewer, Journal of Children's Services
  • Journal reviewer, Sport, Education and Society
  • Journal reviewer, The British Journal of Social Work









  • Lectures and seminars on a range of educational topics including policy enactment; the use of participatory and creative research methods with young people; inclusion and exclusion debates; alternative provision; education inequalities and transitions 

Research Awards:

2021-2024 Health and Care Research Wales (HCRW) Fellowship: Leaving a PRU: Exploring the transitions and post-16 destinations of care experienced young people across Wales (principle investigator) £336,612

2021-2023 Innovation for All Funding Programme, Cardiff University: Making Sense of the SWIS Trial: Implications for Wales (co-applicant) £15,980

2016 ESRC: Wales DTP Interdisciplinary/Collaborative Small Grants Award (co-applicant) £2,000

2015 Doctoral Academy, Cardiff University: Interdisciplinary Doctoral Conference Award (co-applicant) £1,500

Current study:

  • Leaving a PRU: Exploring the transitions and post-16 destinations of care experienced young people across Wales - Principle Investigator - CASCADE research page

Research interests:

  • Children and young people
  • Education and ethnography
  • Professional roles and practices
  • Poverty and child welfare
  • Youth and community work
  • Alternative education provision
  • School exclusions
  • Educational transitions
  • Creative and participatory research