Safeguarding children in the early years: research messages for professionals in education

Join the discussion for this University of Oxford Department of Education seminar.

Monday 03 June 2013
5.00-6.30pm at 15 Norham Gardens, Oxford (Seminar Room A)

Professor Harriet Ward is Director of the Centre for Child and Family Research (CCFR) at Loughborough University, UK and co-director of the government-funded Childhood Wellbeing Research Centre – a partnership between the Institute of Education, University of London, Loughborough University and PSSRU, University of Kent. She has over 20 years experience both as a research director and field researcher, as an adviser to policymakers and service providers, and as a social work practitioner.

Evidence concerning the impact of abuse and neglect in the early years points to the importance of taking swift and decisive action when very children are suffering or likely to suffer significant harm. The decisions made by professionals who have safeguarding responsibilities are extremely difficult and will have long-term consequences for children’s life chances. Moreover intense public interest means that those who make the decisions can be publicly vilified by the media both if they are perceived as having left children too long in dangerous situations or as having removed them unnecessarily from their families.

Delayed language and communications skills and poor socialisation will have an enduring and negative impact on young children’s readiness for school and on their ability to benefit from formal education. This presentation focuses on the role of teachers and early years practitioners in safeguarding children and the issues that arise when abuse and neglect are identified. It draws attention to the mismatch between timeframes for professional decision-making and early childhood development, and the difficulties in providing preventive services in the current economic climate. Research evidence comes from the studies in the recent Safeguarding Children Research Initiative (Davies and Ward, 2012); specific illustrations are drawn from a prospective longitudinal study of the decision-making process influencing the life pathways and developmental progress of a sample of very young children who were identified as suffering, or likely to suffer, significant harm before their first birthdays and have now been followed until they are five (Ward, Brown and Westlake, 2012; Ward, Brown and Maskell Graham, 2012). Implications for policy and practice are discussed.


How to participate
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