Dr Peter Hart

Dr Peter Hart


I am currently working in the area of Inclusion, Childhood and Youth, with research interests in the safeguarding (particularly, post-covid digital relationships between children and professionals), young people’s participation, critical approaches to character education, and reading. Recent projects at Leeds include ICKLE, REACH Primary and Narnian Virtues. 

I joined the School of Education in February 2016, having previously been based at the School of Applied Social Sciences University of Durham, where I completed my PhD on ethical issues in youth work (particularly, investigating the relationship shared between youth workers and young people). I have also worked as a research associate at the University of Durham on an ethnographic project on models of leadership in Methodist churches ('Leading Together in Methodist Churches'), and at the University of Tampere, Finland, working on the project: Political Presence as the Right of the Child'. At Durham I also conducted my Masters in Social Research, Masters in Theology and Ministry, and BA in Community and Youth Work. My professional practice includes working for youth work organisations in the faith and statutory sectors, and in acting as a member of steering groups for a range of social charities. I also sit on the board of trustees for the Stranton Multi-Academy Trust.

Research interests

My main research interest is around the wellbeing of young people, particularly those in disadvantaged communities. Specifically this has been through researching: youth work, youth agency, the professional ethics of those charged with young people’s care, young people’s character development and character education programmes, and reading interventions. Methodologically, I have an interest in structural equation modelling and gathering young people’s voices. 

My current research project is working on a multidisciplinary team from the university, with Leeds City Council, to understand travel cultures amongst young people and improve opportunities for ‘active travel’ within Leeds.

My PhD considered the everyday experiences of the relationship between youth workers and young people, particularly focussed on the normative ethics of those encounters, entitled: An Ethnographic Study of Ethical Practices in Relationships Between Young People and Youth Workers. This theory-generating thesis considered practices and lived experiences of youth workers and young people and compared it to dominant discourses and rhetoric found in policy documents and amongst policy makers. Using a comparative ethnographic methodology across four youth centres, I aimed to understand more about the ethical issues youth workers face in practice, particularly those around developing and sustaining relationships with young people. When compared to other professionals this ‘youth work relationship’ often has greater flexibility, more nebulous concepts of professional boundaries, and inhabits an inherently more informal space.

Beyond that I have worked on a comparative study between the UK and Finland into the Political Presence as a Right of the Child which involved delivering an innovative mapping methodology and in depth interviews with year 6 and year 10 students, and completing ethnographic studies of leadership in Methodist churches. I have been working on a Character Education project based on the Chronicles of Narnia as medium through which students can reflect on their own sense of virtue.

I currently work on the REACH Primary reading intervention. This is a Teaching Assistant delivered programme for struggling readers in year 3. 

<h4>Research projects</h4> <p>Any research projects I'm currently working on will be listed below. Our list of all <a href="https://essl.leeds.ac.uk/dir/research-projects">research projects</a> allows you to view and search the full list of projects in the faculty.</p>


  • PhD Applied Social Sciences
  • MA Social Research
  • PGC Academic Practice
  • MA Theology and Ministry
  • BA Community and Youth Work

Professional memberships

  • British Sociological Association
  • Association of Moral Education
  • Association of Character Education

Student education

My teaching experience included contributing to courses on project management, community and youth work, youth policy, philosophical perspectives on childhood and youth, and research methods. Presently I contribute to modules on the BA in Childhood Studies and lead the MA in Childhood studies.

I have also coordinated access courses for potential undergraduate students in sociology and criminology.

Research groups and institutes

  • ICY: Inclusion, Childhood & Youth Research Centre

Current postgraduate researchers

<h4>Postgraduate research opportunities</h4> <p>The school welcomes enquiries from motivated and qualified applicants from all around the world who are interested in PhD study. Our <a href="https://phd.leeds.ac.uk">research opportunities</a> allow you to search for projects and scholarships.</p>