Dr Rachel Sandford

  • Senior Lecturer in Young People and Sport

Dr Rachel Sandford took up a position as Lecturer in Young People and Sport in the School of Sport Exercise and Health Sciences in January 2012, but has been at Loughborough University in various capacities since 1995.

Rachel initially gained a first class honours degree in Physical Education and Sports Science, graduating in 1998. She then commenced her doctoral studies in 1999, focusing on the areas of young people, identity and physical culture, gaining her PhD in 2003. She was employed as a Research Assistant within the School of Sport and Exercise Sciences (2002-2003) and then a Research Associate with the Institute of Youth Sport (commencing 2003), being appointed a Senior Research Associate in September 2009.

Rachel has presented at national and international conferences relating to sport/physical activity, sociological, educational and youth studies issues, and has given invited lectures to audiences in the UK, Sweden and Spain. She has also published in refereed journals including the British Journal of Sociology of Education, British Educational Research Journal, Physical Education and Sport Pedagogy and Educational Review, as well as contributing to edited books within the fields of physical education, health and positive youth development.

Rachel Sandford’s research interests centre on young people’s experiences of, attitudes towards and participation in physical education, physical activity and youth sport. More specifically, they include a focus on issues relating to: youth voice; positive youth development in/through physical activity and sport; youth identity formation and physical culture and youth disaffection and social exclusion/inclusion.

Her areas of research expertise include: undertaking qualitative research with young people, teachers, adult mentors and programme developers; designing and undertaking activity-based focus group discussions with young people; undertaking case study research with schools/community groups; and writing for diverse audiences (both project reports and academic publications).

Recent research projects include:

  • Cambridge House ‘Evaluation of the ‘Playdagogy’ Project’ (2015 – ongoing)

  • Leicester-shire and Rutland Sport (LRS)  ‘Mapping a Physical Literacy Pathway for 0-5s in Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland’ (2014-1015)

  • SSEHS Development Grant ‘Exploring Positive Movement Subcultures: Irreverent Dance Case Study’ (2013)

  • Gems Education ‘The Role of Sport/Physical Activity within a Blended Learning Model’ (2012).

  • British Toy and Hobby Association (BTHA) ‘Examining the impact of toys on childrens physical activity(2011 - 2012)  

  • Matalan/Youth Sport Trust ‘Evaluation of the Matalan 'yoUR Activity' programme’ (2010-2012)

  • Women's Sport and Fitness Foundation (WSFF)Understanding psycho-social attitudes towards sport and activity in girls’ (2010 – 2011)

  • Member of the British Educational Research Association (BERA) and committee member of the Physical Education and Sport Pedagogy Special Interest Group (2012 – present)
  • Member of the Association Internationale des Écoles Supérieures d’Éducation Physique/International Association for Physical Education in Higher Education (AIESEP) 
  • Reviewer for a number of journals in the fields of physical education, sport pedagogy and exercise, including: Sport, Education and Society; Physical Education and Sport Pedagogy; Research Quarterly in Exercise and Sport; the Journal of Teaching in Physical Education; the European Physical Education Review and Mentoring and Tutoring.
  • Editorial Assistant for the journal Physical Education and Sport Pedagogy (2003-2005)

Invited Presentations/Research Contributions

  • Sandford, R. (2014) The Place of Girls’ Games: Exploring Girls’ Views of Competition and Fun in Physical Education and School Sport. Presentation at the National Conference for Directors of Sport in Independent Schools, Oxford, 31st January.
  • Sandford, R. & Duncombe, R. (2011) Evaluation Research in Practice. Presentation at the Sports Coach UK workshop entitled ‘Impact and Evaluation: Theory and Practice’, University of Birmingham, 13th April.
  • Sandford, R.A. (2007) Social Benefits of Physical Education and Sport, in R. Bailey et al (2007) The educational benefits claimed for physical education and school sport: An academic review [for the British Educational Research Association].
  • Sandford, R.A. & Armour, K.M. (2007, March) Overview of the HSBC/Outward Bound Partnership Project. Paper presented at the Outdoor Education Advisors’ Panel Meeting, Warwick, March.
  • Sandford, R. (2006) Realising the Potential of PE: The Need to Engage with Learners. Invited contribution to a pre-conference seminar on Physical Education Futures, Leeds Metropolitan University, UK.
  • Sandford, R. & Armour, K. (2006) Physical Activity Programmes for Personal and Social Responsibility in Disaffected Youth, Invited paper presented at the International Congress on Physical Activity and Quality of Life, Universidad Católica de Valencia, Spain.
  • Sandford, R. (2005) When Worlds Collide: Understanding the Conflicting & Competing Influences on Girls’ Attitudes to Physical Activity. Invited paper presented at the Fokus Tonårsflickor (Focus Teenage Girls) conference, Lillsved, Sweden.

Featured publications

  • Sandford, R., Duncombe, R., Mason, C & Butler, C. (in press). Ability to be active: exploring children’s active play in primary schools, International Journal of Play.
  • Butler, C., Duncombe, R., Mason, C. & Sandford, R. (in press) Recruitments, engagements and partitions: Managing participation in play, International Journal of Play.
  • Sandford, R.A. (2015) Mentoring Youth, in F. Chambers (Ed.), Mentoring in Physical Education and Sports Coaching, Routledge.
  • O’Donovan, T., Sandford, R. & Kirk, D. (2014) Bourdieu in the Changing Room, in lisahunter, W. Smith & E. Emerald, Pierre Bourdieu and Physical Culture (Routledge)
  • Stirrup, J., Duncombe, R. & Sandford, R. (2014) ‘Intensive Mothering’ in the Early Years: the cultivation and consolidation of (physical) capital, Sport, Education andSociety DOI: 10.1080/13573322.2014.941797.
  • Enright, E., Hill, J., Sandford, R. & Gard, M. (2014). Looking beyond what's broken: Towards an appreciative research agenda in PESP. Sport, Education and Society. 19(7), 912-926, DOI: 10.1080/13573322.2013.854764
  • Armour, K.M. & Sandford, R.A. (2013) Positive Youth Development through an Outdoor Physical Activity Programme: Evidence from a Four-Year Evaluation,Educational Review. 65(1), 85-108.
  • Armour, K.M., Sandford, R.A., Duncombe, R. (2013)Positive Youth Development and Physical Activity/Sport Interventions: Mechanisms leading to Sustained Impact,Physical Education & Sport Pedagogy, 18(3), 256-281.
  • Gorely, T., Sandford, R. Duncombe, R., Musson, H., Edwardson, C., Kay, T. & Jeanes, R. (2011) Understanding psycho-social attitudes towards sport and activity in girls: Final research report. Loughborough University: Institute of Youth Sport.
  • Sandford, R. & Duncombe, R. (2011) Disaffected Youth in Physical Education and Youth Sport, in: K. Armour (Ed.), Sport Pedagogy: An introduction for teaching and coaching (pp. 165-177). Harlow, England: Prentice Hall.
  • Armour, K., Sandford, R. & Duncombe, R. (2011) Right to be Active: Looked After Children in Physical Education and Sport, in: K. Armour (Ed.), Sport Pedagogy: An introduction for teaching and coaching (pp. 214-225). Harlow, England: Prentice Hall.
  • Sandford, R.A., Armour, K.M. & Stanton, D.C. (2010) Volunteer mentors as informal educators in a youth physical activity programme, Mentoring and Tutoring, 18(2), 135-153.
  • Bailey, R., Armour, K., Kirk, D., Jess, M., Pickup, I., Sandford, R. (2009) The educational benefits claimed for physical education and school sport: an academic review, Research Papers in Education, 24(1) pp.1-27.
  • Sandford, R.A., Duncombe, R. & Armour, K.M. (2008) The role of physical activity/sport in tackling youth disaffection and anti-social behaviour. Educational Review, 60(4), 419-435.
  • Sandford, R., Armour, K. & Duncombe, R. (2008) Physical Activity and Personal/Social Development for Disaffected Youth: In Search of Evidence, in: N. Holt (Ed) Positive Youth Development and Sport (pp.97-109). London: Routledge.
  • Sandford, R.A. & Rich, E.J. (2006) Learners and Popular Culture, in: D. Kirk, M. O’Sullivan and D. Macdonald, Handbook of Research in Physical Education. Sage.90