Our New Book!
‘Youthquake’ was the Oxford English Dictionary’s 2017 word of the year. Its selection clearly marks a growing recognition of the power of children’s voices to influence change.
Giving Children a Voice reflects that awareness of the role that children can and must play in shaping our communities. It offers a practical framework for adults to think about how they can create meaningful and effective opportunities for children to participate in shaping the world around them.
One of the most significant barriers to children’s participation are adults. This book, therefore, looks at ways in which adults can partner with children to enable rather than restrict children’s engagement. Step 1 of course is for adults to ‘revitalise their thinking’. A mental ‘detox’ invites adults to question and challenge assumptions about children. It is a process that allows us to see that the way in which we think about children matters as it informs the nature of the practices that adults offer that ultimately shapes children’s experiences.
Step 2 encourages us to explore how the way we think about children is reflected in the spaces that adult and children share. It is, for example, of limited value if we have a progressive view of the child if that is restricted by the policies of the place within which we work. Does the family friendly restaurant provide the space for children to be heard? Does the children’s museum actually invite children to have a meaningful say? To what extent are children’s voices a real part of our actions in school, care settings and beyond? Giving Children a Voice offers practical steps through which a conversation can begin that brings rhetoric and reality into line and offers a platform for children’s voices to play a part in changing communities for the better.
How we talk about participation and what we mean by it, also impacts on the nature of the opportunities we are able to create. Step 3 offers adults a guide to developing a language for participation that can be shaped and framed, with children, in the context of their organisation/ community – for example a youth group, a health care or criminal justice setting. An important element of this is freeing children to shape the agenda as they are encouraged to develop research related skills.
Step 4 looks at the nature of opportunities themselves. It is all well and good us encouraging effective opportunities but what does an effective opportunity look like? By considering the ingredients of an effective opportunity it opens the door for both adults and children to pursue the provision of opportunities that are meaningful and have the potential to result in positive change.
Advocacy relating to children has been driven by adults speaking out for the child. Giving Children a Voice challenges this approach to advocacy as it argues that it is only when adults work with children that the most effective outcomes can be found. Step 5 therefore looks at the role of adults in presenting and supporting children to be involved with a process of change. It lays out frameworks through which adults can construct an advocacy project that is focused on releasing the power of children’s voices to better inform and shape practices within a given context.
Giving Children a Voice states simply that effective advocacy with children is shaped by establishing the voice of the child and then creating the platform on which that voice can be amplified and heard. Effective advocacy does not need to be about widespread change, it is just as relevant in encouraging those small changes to the everyday settings where children and adults mix. A changed perspective of a teacher, parent, caregiver can have a significant impact on a child’s experience.
Giving Children a Voice is important at home, school, in care settings, criminal justice and court rooms, health care , shopping centres, recreational spaces and the list could go on. This book offers adults the chance to create opportunities for children’s voices to play the part they should in shaping communities for the better.
To buy or find out more click here
Whose standards? What disadvantages?
A relevant question for 2018!
Standards are important. However, if we wish to raise standards in education we need to know what standard we are looking to raise and who should be responsible for raising them.
What is clear is that our current definition of standards and our desire to raise ‘them’ is not having a positive impact on those children we might label ‘disadvantaged’. Notably some academics have assessed that concepts such as ‘creativity and understanding’ sit outside of our current focus on standards in schools.
Encouragingly Ofsted are now focusing on the richness of the curriculum as they react to findings that the curriculum is narrowed for ‘disadvantaged’ children.
Sticking with the current system reflects, in the words of Professor Diane Reay that ‘England does not have an education system that is serious about realising the potential of all children…’ indeed she goes on to highlight the issues that children who carry a label of disadvantage face – click here for more.
It is, therefore, time to go beyond the targeted use of terms like ‘disadvantage’ and to think about a more generalised language around ‘disadvantages’. For, in much of the work we are developing at the moment the focus is on recognising that we all face challenges in our learning, no matter who we are. Yes some children will face greater learning ‘disadvantages’ but by making disadvantages a term we all openly discuss in the classroom it removes a stigma and increases the opportunity for the practical search for learning strategies that can make a difference to the individual’s identity as a learner, a difference that can result in the individual increasingly taking control of raising standards for themselves!
To find out more about our training seminars – get in touch – firstname.lastname@example.org
This video shares the thoughts from children at Maple Cross Primary School on a new learning tool they are helping us trial – in their words they thought it helped them to be “better learners”. This video gives a bit of a taster!
As part of our conversations with schools over the last 12 months we have gathered data out of which we share a preliminary report exploring the connection between children’s learning and wellbeing.
This report suggests:
Raising some really important questions:
Please read the report and let us know your thoughts.
Following the launch of our new outdoor learning programme the children prepared a report on the day which you can find by clicking the link below.
This was how their teacher summed up the experience.
‘Our outdoor learning day provided the opportunity to watch children thrive in a new and provoking learning environment. An environment where children had a say, children had a choice and children asked the questions! All children were supported to try something new and share their experience in their own way. Carefully tailored challenges and activities incited all children to move beyond their comfort zone and supported them to take steps, at their own pace, towards developing confidence and communication. Particular skills such as, perseverance when faced with a problem, confidence when trying something for the first time and valuing the ideas of others, are continuing to support all areas of our learning in class.’
Emma Corrigan – Year 4 Teacher – Maplecross Primary School
The 12th October saw our first school day at Moggerhanger Park, near Bedford. It was a day full of ‘wow’ moments as children from Maplecross School in Hertfordshire explored learning linked to ‘enquiry and voice’ – visit their blog here.
Despite all the planning so much learning took place in moments we had not even considered. For example those new experinces of
- feeling a spider run across your hand
- stepping into a wooded area and for the first time being totally surrounded by trees
- discovering an insect you had never seen before hiding in a log.
One girl told us she had always been afraid of the woods, but now she thorugh they were “really fun”.
New experinces in learning can simply be created by recongising the value of learning in different contexts, as children grow in their awareness of how to be a learner in the range of spaces that form part of their everyday lives.
This day was full of ‘awe and wonder’ for the children and for us as we were reminded of the power of the outdoors as a tool for learning.
We are really looking forward to seeing how the children make connections between their learning in the woods and their learning back at school. More to follow….
This week I was introduced to the Did you Know series of videos. Below is the original. It offers an important challenge to why we learn and what we are learning for. It highlights the speed of change within the world at the moment and the importance for educators (whether they be in the home, school or other settings) to recognise just what it is that we are supporting children to be part of (now and in the future).
What is clear is the need to focus on on an approach that equips the child for a life of learning. As we invest in giving children the knowledge, skills and strategies to navigate and confidently master the changing world around them!
EquippingKids are delighted to have a new Outdoor Learning Lead.
Henry Frankel (my brother) brings years of experience as a teacher with forest school accreditation, and a real passion for the outdoors to our developing ambitions to make the most of different learning spaces.
As part of our next steps to develop a base for outdoor learning at Moggerhanger Park in Bedfordshire we have planned some test events. If you are in the area – please join us!