Successful symposium showcases staff specialisms
27 June 2012
LJMU, in support of the Liverpool City Region and Life Chances Commission, recently hosted an event that brought together children's centre staff and support workers from across the city region (Liverpool, Sefton, Knowsley, St Helens, Halton and Wirral).
The aim of the symposium, (entitled Target and Reach-Identifying Best Practice: Barriers to Engagement) was to find ways in which LJMU can aid children's centres by using their combined knowledge and expertise to examine Aim 1 of the Commissions strategy, 'to ensure the best possible start in life for children and young people to improve their life chances' by:
- Developing a knowledge base of the issues faced by children's centres of increasing 'reach' and targeting hard to reach families'
- Highlighting and sharing Best Practice
- Building and fostering links between LJMU and the local communities
The Symposium was well attended and received positive feedback from children's centre workers who listened, contributed and discussed issues in relation to their own area of work within the centres. There was a range of engaging sessions delivered by guest presenters, all specialists in the field.
Martin Cole talked about the criteria of school readiness and debated with the audience whether it has to be so prescriptive. Sue Kay Flowers presented her research on the effects on children and the wider family of relationship breakdown. Derek Kassem and Lucy Richardson co-presented the positive side of being a 'Looked after Child' in terms of how education can help transcend the barriers to engagement. Jill Bennett, formerly head of Wirral Educational Welfare and long term foster carer of numerous children, reflected on how decisions on children's welfare can sometimes get it wrong. The delegates were also able to network and put forward their own examples of Best Practice in their areas.
Dr Diane Grant, Reader in Community and Social Studies at the Faculty of Education, Community and Leisure, who coordinated the symposium, said:
"We were delighted to be able to deliver this Symposium at the Faculty of Education Community and Leisure as we were able to showcase the range of the specialisms of our own diverse staff . All of the sessions were designed to be participatory and to bring together practitioners from various fields to discuss the role children’s centres play in today's society and the identification of possible barriers to engagement. It was rewarding to interact with specialists and practitioners from the children's workforce, and we received extremely positive feedback on the day. It was a real team effort - the wider staff support on the day included research students and staff from Bromborough children's centre. This is the first session of this kind and we hope to extend this, in conjunction with children's centre needs in the future, through the use of student placements and staff support”
Pictured above (left to right): Martin Cole, Derek Kassem, Dr Diane Grant, Jill Bennett Lucy Richardson and Sue Kay-Flowers
Pictured (top left): Open Forum session on Best Practice, included all delegates from across the city region
Pictured (top right): Staff and facilitators, Nina Catar (student), Dr Diane Grant, Derek Kassem, Mia Unsworth (postgraduate), Jill Bennett, Nicki Hirst, Joanne Kirkup (Bromborough CC), Diahann Gallard, Dr Claire Hennessy, Martin Cole, Lucy Richardson, Sue Kay-Flowers and Vicci Boyd