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Nuffield Foundation

The Nuffield Foundation is a charitable trust established in 1943 by William Morris, Lord Nuffield, the founder of Morris Motors Ltd. It aims to improve social well-being by funding research and innovative projects in education and social policy, and building research capacity in science and social science.

Grants are mainly made or research purposes (usually carried out by universities or independent research institutes), or for practical innovation or development (usually in voluntary sector organisations).

The Foundation makes grants for research and innovation projects in the following areas:


  • Education;
  • Law in society;
  • Children and families;
  • Early years education and childcare;
  • Economic advantage and disadvantage; and
  • The finances of ageing.


The Foundation's three main grant programmes (Children and Families, Open Door and Law in Society) are currently open to application, each with a deadline of 3rd July 2017.


Not-for-profit and charitable organisations may apply for a grant of between £10,000 up to £350,000. Most awards tend to be in the range of £50,000 and £200,000.

The Foundation also considers larger grants but these are exceptional and take longer to process. It also occasionally makes smaller grants for research and development pilot work that may cost less than £10,000.

Most projects funded are under four years in duration.

The Foundation is interested in supporting research and innovative project work (with a research element) in the following areas:

A. Child Welfare and Development


  • Exploration of the factors affecting children's welfare and cognitive and social development, and the institutional responses that may be appropriate;
  • Child development beyond the early years through to adolescence,particularly adolescent mental health and social and behavioural development, and the factors promoting or delaying successful transitions from formal education to work and productive adult life;
  • Family structures and approaches to parenting - including parental working patterns - and the implications of these for family life and children's wellbeing. This includes the formation of new family types, the contribution of inter-parental relationships, the different roles played by biological and social parents, kinship care, and the well-being of children growing up in adverse family conditions. The Foundation is particularly interested in the factors that contribute to effective parenting and the outcomes of children who experience different types of parenting; and/or
  • Partnership formation and dissolution and the consequences for childhood outcomes, for example the impact on family resources or the arrangements for child maintenance and parenting. The Foundation is especially interested in ensuring there is better information about the contribution that fathers and other co-parents make to parenting, given that they are missing from, or under-represented in, most of the relevant surveys (such as Understanding Society and the birth cohort studies).


B. Early Years Education and Childcare


  • The quality and cost of childcare provision and the way childcare is best assessed and delivered; the relationship between childcare quality and deprivation; and the role of informal childcare;
  • Development and testing of emerging approaches to improve child outcomes, such as parenting programmes, literacy programmes and approaches to enhance early language development. The Foundation is also interested in the impact of take-up of nursery provision on later outcomes;
  • The application of emerging social science evidence to improve on the design of programmes for very young children aged 1-3 years. The Foundation wants to know whether it is possible to better combine the learning from educational research (e.g. on very early oral language, literacy and numeracy skills development) and social developmental research (e.g. on behaviour management and approaches to 'self control') to inform the design and delivery of new programmes to improve child outcomes;
  • Better understanding of why the costs of childcare have risen, and how far this relates only to the price parents pay, or whether it also reflects underlying cost drivers. The Foundation is also interested in international comparisons on the balance of state and private funding, and the operation and regulations of childcare markets;
  • Empirical work to identify which mechanisms (such as quality assessment/inspection regimes, qualifications, curricula, interventions) are most effective in improving quality in the early years workforce;and how these mechanisms are best and most cost-effectively combined for each age group; and/or
  • The extent to which social segregation in early years provision may reinforce social and economic inequalities, and whether more can be done to improve access to, take-up of, and parental engagement with early years education by the most disadvantaged groups in society.


C. Child Protection


  • Exploration of issues relating to the child protection system, including adoption, fostering and kinship care. The Foundation wants to know how well the needs of children growing up in adverse conditions are met by the social services designed to help them, and to identify areas for improvement to protection and placement services for adoption and fostering;
  • Better understanding of the underlying drivers (social, structural and institutional) which affect the numbers of children in, and on the margins, of the looked-after system;
  • The quality and role of scientific evidence in the practice of children's social work and opportunities for intervention to improve the use of evidence;
  • The operation and design of the wider system, including the configuration of children's services; the quality and professional development of the children's services workforce; and how effective interventions can become embedded or scaled up.


There are a number of exclusions, which are listed under the detail for the Foundation's Open Door programme in the column to the right and on the Foundation's website.

There are currently two grant application rounds each year. The next deadline is Monday 3rd July 2017.

The application process, which takes a minimum of 6 months, has three main stages:


  • Outline application;
  • Full application, and
  • Finalising the award.


Application is by application form. Full details can be found on the Foundation's website.

Contact details for the Trust are:

Mr. James Brooke Turner
The Nuffield Foundation, 28 Bedford Square, London. WC1B 3JS


(The Foundation does not advertise a phone number.)

11 April 2017 11:09

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