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Principal Researcher

Nesta - A Fairer Start Mission

This is a full-time role but we offer a range of flexible working arrangements and encourage our people to take advantage of them.

About Nesta

We are Nesta, the UK’s innovation agency for social good. We design, test and scale solutions to society’s biggest problems. Our three missions are to give every child a fair start, help people live healthy lives, and create a sustainable future where the economy works for both people and the planet.

For over 20 years, we have worked to support, encourage and inspire innovation. We work in three roles: as an innovation partner working with frontline organisations to design and test new solutions, as a venture builder supporting new and early stage businesses, and as a system shaper creating the conditions for innovation.

Harnessing the rigour of science and the creativity of design, we work relentlessly to change millions of lives for the better. Find out more at nesta.org.uk.

The role
Nesta is looking to appoint a Principal Researcher into our A Fairer Start mission. In this role, we have a particular need for candidates with strong evaluation expertise.

About this mission: A Fairer Start
We want every child to have the fairest possible start in life, so they can thrive and realise their potential. Nesta’s Fairer Start Mission is on a 10-year endeavour to close the gap in school readiness between those growing up in poverty and their peers across the UK. To achieve this, we focus our work on strengthening the support that disadvantaged families receive to improve the home learning environment, cope with financial pressures and/or access high-quality formal childcare. Leveraging Nesta’s multiple capabilities, we use a multi-pronged approach to maximise the chances that change happens. For example, we work with families and frontline partners to design and deliver interventions to support the home learning environment, and evaluate their effectiveness at scale; we study the impacts of existing policies to make policy recommendations; we invest in ventures to create social impact through business; we build coalitions and campaigns to shift attitudes and norms. Whatever the approach we take, we strive to be evidence-led and impact-focused, and to measure the impact of our activities on our mission goal.

As a Principal Researcher, you will:

  • Work alongside a talented team of 20 with an unusual blend of skills - ranging from data analytics and behavioural science to design and communications.
  • Play a key role in undertaking high-quality and innovative research to inform our approach to reducing early childhood inequalities and evaluate the impact of the solutions we design and aim to scale.
  • Design and implement high-quality research protocols, including experimental and quasi-experimental evaluations of the solutions that we design and aim to test
  • Provide methodological guidance on a range of projects across the mission team
  • Supervise and mentor junior researchers and quality assure their work
  • Disseminate research findings to relevant stakeholders
  • Build relevant research partnerships with academic and non-academic organisations
  • Contribute to the mission’s strategic thinking through your knowledge of the evidence base and analysis of existing datasets
  • Support the development of the team’s subject and methodological expertise
  • Have opportunities to collaborate with and learn from other researchers in the team, Nesta’s Director of Research and Heads of Qualitative and Quantitative research, as well as others with research, data science, behavioural science and design expertise across other teams at Nesta.

You will report to one of the members of the AFS MIssion Leadership Team. This is a permanent position based in London.

Candidate criteria

Essential
We are looking for people who understand what we do, share our values and are keen to learn and develop their expertise. We are looking for candidates with the skills listed below. We expect to provide training and development support in some of the areas.

  • Qualified to PhD level in a relevant domain or applicable methodological discipline (for example, developmental psychology, health, education, economics, statistics)
  • Technical expertise in quantitative evaluation methods, including both experimental and quasi-experimental methods
  • Experience of conducting mixed-methods evaluations
  • Extensive experience of developing research proposals and analysis plans involving a wide range of data
  • Expertise and previous experience of research with vulnerable populations, preferably children
  • A track record of managing research projects, potentially involving multiple partners, and pushing them forward to completion
  • A capacity and willingness to manage and develop junior colleagues
  • Ability to guide others in selecting the best approaches to answer their research questions, taking into account practical as well as methodological needs
  • Experience or demonstrated interest in engaging with public policy at local, national or international levels
  • Exceptional ability to manage and develop yourself at work; you demonstrate high levels of initiative, and take responsibility for your own workload and development
  • Collaborative and solution-focused approach to problem solving
  • Willingness to work flexibly on topics outside of your immediate expertise
  • Excellent written and oral communication skills with academic and non-academic audiences

Desirable:

  • Experience working in early years, education or a related sector
  • Experience designing and implementing randomised controlled trials involving young children in the UK
  • Experience conducting qualitative research and carrying out qualitative analysis
  • Knowledge and previous use of administrative and survey data sources relevant to early childhood development
  • Experience collecting primary data on young children or other vulnerable populations
  • Experience leading public or community engagement on research projects or similar initiatives
  • Track record of publishing in high-quality academic journals
  • Experience in raising research funding and knowledge of the research funding space in the UK

What we offer

Salary: £53,000 - £66,000 (offers are expected to be made towards the bottom of the band) plus array of benefits, including private medical insurance, dental insurance, the ability to buy and sell annual leave, eyecare vouchers and more

Location: This role is based in London with a hybrid working arrangement; we expect all staff to work from our Blackfriars office at least two days a week.

Term: Permanent

Hours: This is a full-time role but we offer a range of flexible working arrangements and encourage our people to take advantage of them. Many do.

Start: As early as possible

Making an application

To apply for this role, please submit your application before 8:00am on 4th March 2024. Please submit a CV and answer the questions on Applied.

Successful candidates will be invited to a first round interview. If successful, candidates may be invited to a second round interview.

Interviews will take place w/c 11th March 2024.

At Nesta, we believe that a diverse workforce leads to an organisation that is more innovative, more creative and gets better results.

We want our workforce to represent the diversity of the people and communities we serve. We also want our workplace to be one where different experiences, expertise and perspectives are valued, and where everyone is encouraged to grow and develop.

This means that when we are recruiting, we actively seek to reach a diverse pool of candidates. It also means that we are happy to consider any reasonable adjustments that potential employees may need to in order to be successful.

We recognise the importance of a good balance between work and home life, so we do everything we can to accommodate flexible working, including working from home, compressed or part-time hours, job shares and other arrangements.

Please just let us know in your application or at any stage throughout the process (and beyond) if these are options you’d like to explore.

Location: Blackfriars, London, Hybrid
Salary: £53,000 to £66,000
Hours: Full Time
Contract Type: Permanent
Placed On: 21st February 2024
Closes: 4th March 2024
   
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