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    Working with Children and Families

    Dr Margy Whalley Thursday 6th October 2016

    The Pen Green Centre Project 1983-2016


    Integrated centres for children and families a global project

    Children and family centres working collaboratively with parents and the wider community have the capacity to transform childrens life chances.


    Pen Green Integrated Centre for Children and their Families

    In every small community there should be a service for children and their fami l ie s . Th i s se rv ice should honour the needs of young children and celebrate their existence. It should also support families, however, they are constituted within the community

    Pen Green 1983 building on what has gone before


    Tracer Study: The voices of their childhoods


    Integrated centres for children and families matter. They matter to the families and children who use them, to the staff who work in them and for them, to the local authorities who are accountable for them and to those who share the ambition to reform the way in which public services are organised and delivered.

    What makes these centres so distinctive is the collaboration and co-operation of different professional groups, and how they bring together services for children and their families in new and radical ways.

    Childrens centres in the 21st Century Document Pen Green/Innovation Unit 201 page 9


    Integrated centres for children and families require a different kind of community engagement;

    How is more significant than what

    By encouraging families to participate in the re-shaping of the shared context in which they live out their individual lives

    By supporting parents and children to become effective public service users

    By building the capacity of children, families and communities to secure outcomes for themselves

    By harnessing the communitys energy for change and parents deep commitment to ensuring that their children have a better deal

    With thanks to Demos, the Scottish Government, Pen Green



    Roots and Routes: a town that marches


    Co-production 21st Century

    Co-production means delivering public services in an equal

    and reciprocal relationship between professionals, people

    using services, their families and their neighbours. Where

    activities are co-produced in this way, both services and

    neighbourhoods become far more effective agents of


    (From Boyle and Harris: 2009 The Challenge of Co-production)


    Finally, because timebanking and co-production grow out of my own life and work in the civil rights movement, I have to

    add that hell-raising is a critical part of co-production and of the labour that it entails it must value. Those with wealth, power authority and credentials hold those assets as stewards

    for those who came before and in trust for those yet unborn. They must be held accountable - and sometimes that requires the creation of new vehicles that give rise to scrutiny, to questioning, to criticism, and to social protest. Timebank programmes can create those vehicles in ways that enlist the

    community - and that tap the knowledge that the community has about what is working and what is not working

    Professor Edgar Cahn Washington Civil Rights Lawyer

    No more throwaway people: the co-production imperative

    Hell-raising for equality and social justice




    The two key concepts that underpin the work:

    Advocacy - parents and early years educators speaking on behalf of, and interceding on behalf of children

    Agency - children, parents, staff believing they can change situations and determine the outcomes of events. Agency reflects self esteem and self confidence. A child (or adult) high in agency will readily become involved in challenging problems and will be appropriately assertive interacting with peers

    e.g. Pen Green legal advisory service for SEND children 2016



    Coping with major changes


    Conflict over access

    Physical and emotional abuse


    Issues for children and parents using the centre


    Coping with daily transitions

    Being part of complex family networks that form and reform

    Living in more than one home

    Attending more than one daycare setting

    Coping with parents complex shift patterns

    Issues for children and parents using the centre


    Data needs to drive services but it should never be used to define families

    1. Safeguarding in Corby rates of child abuse/neglect 15 times higher

    than national average where domestic violence is a factor

    referral and re-referral rates amongst the highest in England

    2. Neighbourhood Level Challenges in Corby 22% of Corby children live in poverty; some

    neighbourhoods up to 45% 24.5% in low income working poor families; some

    neighbourhoods up to 43% pockets of poverty/social challenge

    3. Education and Well Being in Corby Some neighbourhoods have over 35% of

    adults with no qualifications (England average 22%)

    Corby childrens well-being low, particularly in relation to education outcomes (Corby 28.4% national average 19.8%).

    4. Health in Corby 50.2 % of Corby families live in health deprivation spots

    (England average 19.6%) low breastfeeding and high obesity rates professional concern regarding infant/adult mental

    health increase in number of children with disability/special


    5. Population expansion in Corby 35% increase in 0-5s in the last 3 years (Northamptonshire 13%

    in same period) very significant increase in white other (largely Eastern

    European) families 1.9% - 10.5% in 10 years


    Integrated centres for children and families are about social justice: equality is better for everyone

    disadvantaged discouraged confidence sapped stigmatised segregated social anxiety

    From The Spirit Level Wilkinson and Pickett


    Childrens Centres deal with complexity

    there is little value in having a generous and open mind if

    life is primarily a struggle for survival, where there are few

    or no trusted neighbours and where it is better not to think

    about other peoples states of mind Thoughtfulness is

    not useful in a thoughtless culture.

    (Sebastian Kraemer, 1999)

  • Safeguarding Children & building up their

    emotional wellbeing & resilience

    Well qualified social work and family

    support staff; comprehensive home

    visiting services, development of informal social

    networks, need for a strong outcomes focus

    and effective supervision for staff

    Securing childrens progress and development

    Well qualified teachers, (QTS/ITT) and Early

    Educators. Effective assessment from 0-5 tracking progress,

    action learning sets across childrens centres and into schools, highly

    developed key-worker role, need for a strong

    outcomes focus.

    Comprehensive family support Focussed interventions for minoritized groups who may find it

    hard to access existing public services (Requires comprehensive data sets socio spatial mapping, staff appropriately trained and with a strong commitment to

    social justice, prepared to work in a different way)

    Developing the children and family centres as a learning organisation Involving parents in their childrens learning Encouraging parents to take up community education/adult learning opportunities Childrens centres as the University of the Workplace & Teaching Hospitals Ensuring all staff are well informed rigorous thinkers with good supervision and support





    The Primary Task of integrated centres for children and families


    Pen Green Centre for Children and FamiliesA place for learning through dialogue with others

    Early years education 0-5yrs

    Extended hours, extended year provision to support families

    Inclusive, flexible, education with care for children with

    additional needs and children with special rights (SEND)

    Adult Community Education

    Family Support Services and Integrated Health Services

    Focus for voluntary work and community regeneration

    Training and support for early years practitioners

    Research and Development

    Leadership Professional Development

    Early Years Teaching Centre/Teaching School


    Baby Nest






    Pen Green Nursery The Den


    Pen Green Nursery The Snug


    The Studio


    Extended Provision across centre


    Extended Provision across centre


    Extended Provision across Centre

    The Garden


    The Beach


    The Sandpit


    Pen Green Research, Training & Development

    Base and Leadership Centre

    Practitioner Research, Training, Development, Innovation

    Pen Green Integrated Centre for Children and


    Pen Green maintained Nursery School and Childrens Centre

    Pen Green Teaching School Alliance

    two halves of one constantly evolving whole Early Years Teaching Centre/Teaching School


    Practice based evidence: parents and practitioners as partners in research

    Parents involvement in their childrens learning

    Childrens emotional well-being and resilience Ghosts in the Nursery: Issues of adult attachment

    Childrens Communication 0-3: Parents as language tutors

    Co-constructing differentiated pedagogical approaches

    Co-constructing a baby nest provision to support family life in the 21st century

    Children as philosophers Leadership in childrens centres

    Policy transfer: integrated centres for children and families (UK, Germany, New Zealand,


    Being in relation children engaging with their peers

    Emotional routes of learning


    Pen Green

    A Centre that encourages children to be all that they can be

    our image of the child is rich

    in potential, strong, powerful,

    competent and, most of all,

    connected to adults and

    other children.

    Loris Malaguzzi


    Im strong;

    Im able to challenge;

    Im able to question

    Im able to choose;

    I feel good about being me

    Communities of Oppression Learning to be Strong - children, parents and staff

    1984 Learning to be strong A curriculum document for parents and children

    Children should feel strong

    Children should feel in control

    Children should feel able to question

    Children should feel able to choose


    A centre where all children are encouraged to be feisty children: children with a sense of agency

    and resilient despite adversity


    Parents as Advocates

    Nothing gets under a parents skin more quickly and more permanently than the illumination of his or her own childrens behaviour. The effects of participation can be profound.

    (Athey, 1990, p66)


    Sharing Knowledge With Parents: Staff as cultural brokers/mediators

    The roles of professional experience and parents everyday experience are seen as complementary but equally important. The former constitutes a public (and generalised) form of theory about child development, whilst the latter represents a personal theory about the development of a particular child. An interaction between the two theories or ways of explaining a childs actions may produce an enriched understanding as a basis for both to act in relation to the child. Only through the combination of both types of information could a broad and accurate picture be built up of a childs developmental progress.

    (Easen et al, 1992)



    Parents are involved in supporting their own childs learning and development 24/7 - this needs to be recognised and home learning

    and nursery learning needs to be shared

    Parents engage in adult community education

    Parents get involved in devising or delivering services for other parents


    In Childrens Centres Parents and Staff Share Observations

    Film the children at home Keep a diary Film the children at the centre Apply theory to the observations Make portfolios about childrens interests

    and critical concerns



    Support for children and parents is offered during all critical transitions

    Staff, parents and children have meaningful conversations that support the childrens development

    Parents and workers become more aspirational Workers and parents develop their advocacy skills Involvement on the relationships parents have with their childs

    educator at nursery and subsequently at school Study groups are embedded in early childhood settings and

    local schools Parents undertake adult education, professional development


    Community Education Opportunities at Pen Green GCSE English or equivalent GCSE Maths or equivalent Introduction to Computing Computer Literacy and IT (CLAIT) Sign Language City and Guilds Stage 1 Creative Connections overcome the barrier to writing Family Literacy/Numeracy Communication Skills Creche Workers Course (NOCN) Homestart (NOCN) NVQ in Early Years and Education L2 and L3/NVQ Playworkers (now CACHE Diploma) Counselling Skills Course Between Ourselves Confident Parents/Confident Children (NOCN) Introducing Childminding Practice Making Choices Sewing/Crafts Group Protective Behaviours Stress and Relaxation Skills for Work/Confidence Building Course Baby Massage (IAIM Certificate) Involving Parents in their Childrens Learning NOCN Parents as Researchers NOCN


    EYITT Training

    University of Bedfordshire

    Initial Teacher Training University of Hertfordshire (2015)

    PhD Early Years Leadership Leicester University

    MA In Integrated Provision for Children and Families Leicester University/University of Hertfordshire Early Development and Learning Research Methods Practitioner Research Working With Parents and their Infants and Young Children Working With Families and Complexity Leadership Learning within Teams

    University of Hertfordshire (2015)

    Advanced Module in Groupwork

    Homestart Training

    Group Work Training (introductory)

    Emotional Roots of learning Northern School of Psychotherapy

    University of the Workplace

    PEN GREEN AS A LEARNING ORGANISATION - developing the early years workforce

    An Early Years Teaching School Teaching School Alliance

    BA (Hons) Top-up In Integrated Working with Children and their Families in the Early Years University of Hertfordshire

    Foundation Degree in Integrated Working with Children and their Families in the Early Years Hertfordshire University On site and on location in Devon, Kegworth and Bradford

    Adult Community Education Courses Functional Skills Get Creative Transactional Analysis Counselling Skills Mood Mapping

    Family Learning Programmes Maths English ESOL

    Parents Involved in their Childrens Learning groups Parents Support Groups / Discussion Groups

    Aim Awards credit for courses at levels 1 & 2 e.g., Crche Work Training, Confident Parent...